In the event that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, one of the first steps you should take is reporting the accident to your insurance company for Personal Injury Protection benefits, otherwise known as “PIP benefits.” Personal Injury Protection coverage is the only coverage drivers are required to carry in the state of Florida. For reasons discussed last month in my article on “Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage,” it is advisable to carry much more than just this minimum coverage, but I think it is important to understand exactly what benefits Personal Injury Protection provides insureds.

PIP coverage is “No-fault” insurance coverage. What this means is that the insured is entitled to the benefits regardless of whether they are responsible for causing the motor vehicle accident.

The purpose of PIP coverage is to provide timely payments of medical bills as well as for lost income as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Basic PIP coverage entitles an insured to have his auto insurer pay 80 percent of his medical bills up to $10,000.00, or 60 percent of their lost wages. If a person carries additional “medical payments coverage,” the additional 20 percent will be paid for as well by the insurer. Deductibles can range between nothing to $1,000.00. What this means is that if a person’s medical bills reach $12,500.00, the insurer is responsible to pay $10,000.00 of these bills if the person has no deductible on their policy. If the person elected to have a $2,000.00 deductible, the insurer would be responsible for only $8,000.00 given the same circumstances.

Personal Injury Protection coverage does not only apply to the person driving his own vehicle. PIP benefits can also apply to passengers in the insured’s automobile, or to drivers whom the insured has given permission to drive his or her automobile. This depends on whether or not the injured person(s) own a car themselves. PIP coverage follows the person. If a driver or passenger does not own a vehicle, and they are injured in someone else’s car, the vehicle owner’s insurance would provide benefits for the person who did not own a vehicle. However, if the passenger or driver owns a vehicle, that person’s PIP insurance would be the applicable coverage.

Additionally, if a person who owns a vehicle is hit by a car while they are walking or riding a bicycle, the person’s auto insurance can provide them PIP benefits as well.

If the insurance company elects not to pay or cuts off benefits too early, a PIP lawsuit can be filed against the company to continue these benefits. Additionally, if the insurer purposefully or mistakenly does not pay valid claims within 30 days of obtaining notice of them, they are subject to monetary penalties such as interest on the amount owed.

A basic understanding of your rights with regards to Personal Injury Protection benefits should provide some comfort in knowing that medical coverage and/or lost compensation are available due to injuries suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a personal legal consultation.

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