There are a ton of misleading advertisements out there related to automobile accidents and your entitlement to ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) as a result of being involved in a car accident. These personal-injury-attorney ads are most frequently seen on day-time television and heard on the radio to or from work. There are multiple variations, but many of them sound something like: If you’ve been in a car accident, let the law offices of X & Y get you the $10,000 you are entitled to under Florida law!
The problem is that, for many people, this sounds like all you have to do is call the Law Offices of X & Y to receive your 10K check!
So, what’s really going on?
The $10,000 is a reference to Florida’s No-Fault Statute (which is found in F.S. 627.736). Florida law requires every automobile insurance policy issued in Florida to include $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. Unfortunately, contrary to what many are led to believe due to misleading advertisements; this does notmean that you, the person in the auto accident, will simply be written a check for 10 grand!
What it means is that if you are the named insured (i.e. the person who bought the car insurance policy); or you are a relative of the named insured (that lives in the same household); or you are the person who happened to be driving the covered vehicle (with the permission of the named insured); or you were a passenger in the covered vehicle; or if you were struck by the covered vehicle (but not while in another car)…. you are entitled to receive up to $10,000 for 80% of your medical bills (caused by an injury in the covered vehicle); 60% of any loss in income or earning capacity from an inability to work (caused by an injury in the covered automobile); and certain death benefits regardless of who was at fault in causing the automobile accident.
Chances are that the $10,000 is going to go to your medical provider. And this is a good thing, because doctors don’t work for free. But after an accident, they will see, examine, and treat you because they know that your car-insurance policy is going to allow them to receive up to $10,000 if there are $12,500 in medical bills (remember, PIP only pays for 80% of medical bills, so you would need to incur $12,500 for the doctor to get his/her $10,000). The remaining 20% is either coming out of your pocket or, if your lawyer believes that you have a good case, initially out of your lawyer’s pocket (which you will repay if there is a monetary settlement or verdict in your favor).
So the reality is, you don’t get a $10,000 check. But, if you sustain a serious injury, you may be entitled to pain and suffering compensation (which may be more or less than $10,000 depending on the severity of the injury and the apportionment of liability).
Personal Injury Protection, PIP, No-Fault are complicated areas of the law. If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me directly. NKP is here to help.
SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST POSTED, FLORIDA PIP LAW HAS CHANGED. Read about the PIP reform law.