As a trial attorney in Weston (Ft. Lauderdale), Florida, who has specialized in personal injury matters, I have seen a lot of misconceptions regarding insurance and injury issues, which I believe that everyone should have some awareness of. I am creating this blog to bring some of these issues to the forefront and educate the general public.
The first, and probably most common misunderstanding deals with car insurance. When a potential client comes into my office after an automobile accident, one of the first questions I ask is “Do you have car insurance?” The typical answer I hear is “Oh yeah!! I have full coverage!!” The problem is that “full coverage” in Florida does not protect the insured person for anything more than $10,000.00 in medical expenses or lost wages. When injured parties come to the realization that the at-fault party had the same “full coverage” and that there is no insurance coverage, they wish that they had spoken to me prior to the collision and had spent a bit extra for insurance.
Florida law requires every automobile to be insured with $10,000.00 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and Property Damage coverage. THAT’S IT. The PIP covers only 80% of the insured person’s medical bills and 60% of the insured persons lost wages, up to the policy limits, regardless of who caused the accident. The PIP coverage does not provide for any pain and suffering or non-economic recovery. Typically, these PIP policies have a deductible up to $2,000.00 further limiting the coverage. Property damage covers only the other vehicle if the insured person causes an accident. Once a person has secured these policies, he or she has “full coverage” under the law. Unfortunately, if the other person has this “full coverage”, and the injuries exceed $10,000.00 in medical bills and lost wages or if you have experienced any pain and suffering, you have no insurance to recover these damages. So how do you protect yourself?
Make absolutely certain that you have Bodily Injury and Uninsured Motorist Coverage. Bodily Injury Coverage (BI) insures you if you cause injury to another person in an automobile accident. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) protects you if you are injured in an accident caused by another driver whose insurance is limited to “full coverage” and your damages exceed your $10,000.00 PIP limits. UM also protects you if the other driver’s BI coverage is insufficient to cover your injuries. Also, look into Comprehensive and Collision Coverage which covers any damage to your car if you cause the accident or if the damage is the result of something such as theft, storm, or any other cause.