Were you at fault in a car accident that happened in Palm Beach County? Are you worried that you might have trouble with your insurance company? And if you are hurt, are you concerned that you might not be eligible to receive insurance money to pay for your injuries?
Don’t be. In Florida, we have laws that are designed to protect drivers who are in an incidence where an auto accident occurs with injuries, regardless of who is at fault for the collision or accident. Florida, and Palm Beach County by extension, operates under what is called “No-Fault” laws.
These laws specifically exclude insurance companies from withholding certain compensation for injuries you incur during an accident. Typically, that compensation is paid out for what’s called a “PIP claim”. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection, and it’s a basic policy of car insurance all drivers in Florida must carry.
Here’s how PIP works.
- If you are in an accident, and you are injured, your insurance company pays you up to $10,000 in PIP money, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
- PIP dollars can only be used to pay towards medical bills incurred as a result of the accident.
- You MUST have an insurance policy to qualify for PIP if you are injured in an accident. Basic PIP coverage is a minimum requirement under Florida law.
The last point is an important one, because it means that if you have any car, auto, motorcycle, or trucking insurance in Florida, you have at least mandatory minimum PIP coverage, and therefore, you qualify for compensation in the event of an accident.
It is illegal to own a car in Florida that you operate on public roads without the minimum Florida mandatory insurance coverage. PIP laws allow for Florida to be a no-fault state, and the fact that this coverage is required of every driver eliminates the need for the insurance companies to spend needless time and resources trying to figure out who is “at fault”.
But, you might ask, what if you are injured while riding as a passenger in someone else’s car? Your medical bills can still be covered as a passenger under what’s called “Host Vehicle PIP”. This allows the insurance company to pay your medical claims using the driver of the host vehicle’s PIP coverage, but only if the driver carries insurance, of course.
Here’s another scenario: If you do not own the car you are driving, but are involved in an accident, then you likely have no auto insurance because you do not own a vehicle (there is no requirement in Florida that a driver with a valid license own the car he or she is driving, or that he or she carry insurance – the mandate only applies to drivers who own and drive their own vehicle.) In this case, an insurance caveat called “Resident Relative PIP” could apply.
Resident Relative PIP allows you to be covered under the auto insurance policy of a family member or relative who lives in the same household as you do. For example, Resident Relative PIP could apply if you are driving the vehicle owned by a parent or spouse, sibling, aunt, or uncle, provided that you all live under the same roof.
Under Florida’s No-Fault laws, there are other protections in place for you if you are involved in an auto accident. Some other protections include Bodily Injury Coverage and Uninsured Motorist Coverage, which will be discussed in later blog posts (click the links if they are active).