Personal injury is a what you need to have to be entitled to money damages from someone else. The injury has to be to your body or “person.” A broken bone, herniated discs in your back or neck, anything that causes you pain and suffering and requires medical attention. The best personal injury cases (from a “value” standpoint) are the ones where there is a life-changing and permanent injury to a middle-aged person who had no previous injuries.
Most people understand if you are injured in an auto accident, you may be entitled to recover money for your injuries. That’s true. But there are many more “causes of action” that are covered under “personal injury.”
Many people hurt themselves in grocery stores, homes, theme parks, churches, hospitals, and restaurants. They also get hurt on sidewalks and while in parking lots. You may even be bitten by a dog or become the victim of some horrible crime in a theme park parking lot. All of these are personal injuries – and you may be entitled to compensation.
Here is a brief overview of some of the major personal injury categories – and what to do if you are hurt.
Motor vehicle accidents (or “MVAs”) include cars, trucks and motorcycle accidents. Money is usually recovered in these types of accidents by finding the applicable insurance policy to pay the injured party.
That is a very good question! Florida is a rather unique State when it comes to auto insurance. The coverages can also be confusing. You only need two things on your auto policy to be able to drive a car in the State of Florida:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability.
Insurance policies are like pies. Each piece of the pie does something different.
Personal Injury Protection or PIP, as it’s usually referred to, covers your medical treatment as a result of an accident. You must seek treatment within (14) days of the accident and, if you do, your medical bills should be covered for $10,000 worth of services. If you do not seek treatment within (14) days, your auto insurance company will only pay $2,500.00. You must also have a qualified medical doctor to determine that you suffered an “emergent medical condition.”
PIP generally covers:
Medical expenses from a car accident.
Wages lost due to the injuries.
Replacement services for things you can’t do for yourself or your family, because of the accident, such as house cleaning, childcare as well as lawncare.
The basis for PIP in Florida is the “Florida No-Fault Law.” The “No Fault Law” tends to confuse people who have not been in an accident. You would think that because it says “No-Fault” and you were not at fault, the other guy’s insurance would pay for your medical bills.
It does not matter who caused the accident, each injured person, must use their own auto insurance policy. Actually, this is a good arrangement. Many years ago, in Florida, fault would have to be determined before you could get your bills paid. As you can imagine, that took a while!
This coverage is much easier to explain than PIP. If you are at fault for the accident this coverage pays for the other person’s property damage. See? Simple.
But, wait, wait…there’s more! Here’s the bad news. You will be out of luck if you are hurt, and the other driver only has PIP and Property Damage Liability on their policy.
Here’s why…the piece of the pie that the at-fault driver needs is called “Bodily Injury Liability” coverage.
Have you heard the countless attorneys who promise to compensate you for PAIN & SUFFERING? Bodily Injury Liability coverage is additional, and it is not required by law in Florida.
Scenario: You are minding your own business, stopped and waiting for the light to turn green. All of a sudden, you hear a very loud bang and feel a jolt from behind. You think, what the heck?
Harold, the driver of the pickup truck that was traveling behind you, forgot he was driving and struck your car from the rear. You are transported to the hospital and you spend eight months treating with a chiropractor. You are in luck! Harold elected to have bodily injury liability coverage on his auto policy. While you may be very angry at Harold, you are fortunate that he decided to pay extra for his auto insurance.
What happens if Harold, the pickup truck driver, only carried the bare bones coverage (PIP and Property Damage)? So glad you asked! The pie gets cut into another piece here. Enter, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is going to sound pretty crazy, but uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is coverage you purchase and pay for, to make up for people who don’t pay for insurance or they didn’t pay for enough insurance.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage comes in to play if the person who caused the accident either did not carry bodily injury liability coverage, or, they had no auto insurance at all. (As in, deadbeat.)
Underinsured Motorist Coverage piggy backs onto bodily injury coverage. In other words, if your injuries or case is worth more than what the bodily injury coverage is, you can make a claim against your underinsured motorist coverage.
Scenario: Remember Harold, the pickup truck driver? So, in this scenario, Harold does have bodily injury liability coverage. His policy limits, (the maximum you can recover from the policy), is $10,000.00.
You treat with a chiropractor who sends you for an MRI, and the MRI is positive for disc damage. The chiropractor sends you to an orthopedic surgeon who tells you; you must have surgery, now. You have the surgery, and the hospital charges you $110,000.00. The $10,000.00 is a drop in the bucket and not enough money to make you whole.
Voila! You have an underinsured motorist claim. Your auto insurance company basically stands in the shoes of the wrong doer, (or, at-fault driver).
What’s the moral of this story? Keep in mind that when someone tells you they have full coverage, they may be in compliance with Florida law, but that doesn’t mean you will be properly compensated for your injuries.
Just in case your head is not spinning, there is also a “threshold requirement” in the law. There are exceptions, but generally, you must have a doctor state that you have suffered a “permanent injury” as a result of the accident. This is another one of those confusing little details in Florida law.
2nd moral of this story? Check your auto insurance policy today. If you can’t determine what type of coverage you have, give Fighter Law a call. We’re happy to answer questions you may have concerning your auto policy.
I should also mention right about now, that if the at-fault driver did not have the proper insurance and your agent did not suggest uninsured motorist coverage, you can always file a lawsuit against the owner of the car that caused the accident.
Premises liability is where you are hurt on someone else’s property where they owed you a duty of care. They are “liable” when you are on their property or “premises.”
What if I slip on liquid at a grocery store, do I get money? You would think that if you slip and fall in a grocery store, you will get some money, right? Not necessarily. You must be able to prove “notice”. This means that the owner of the store or the employees, had a reasonable amount of time to clean up the liquid and failed to do so.
Scenario: You are on your way home from work and you stop at a grocery store. You’re walking in the fruit and vegetable aisle, looking for cumquats, when suddenly, your feet disappear out from under you. The next thing you know, you are sitting on the floor with a number of people staring at you. Awkward. When you finally get up off the floor, you see a spilled cup of ice melting on the floor. Since it takes time for ice to melt, it’s reasonable to believe the store employees should have seen the spill and cleaned it up. This means the store owner or the store employees had “notice” of the spill and did nothing to clean it up.
On the other hand, if a child had just spilled the ice on the floor and you slipped, the employees would not have necessarily noticed the spill. Make sense?
If you slip or trip anywhere, it is important to keep these things in mind.
General liability is where someone else owed a duty of care to you and failed to protect you under that duty. If they are not “generally” careful, they may be “liable” for what happens to you.
What if a dog bites me? Sometimes dogs are not the cute and cuddly kind. If a dog bites you, be sure to report the incident to the dog owner. It is also a good idea to report the incident to animal control. Most importantly, confirm the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance information. Homeowners Liability Coverage is the type of insurance that will pay for your medical bills as well as compensate you for pain and suffering.
Another example of a potential homeowners insurance claim:
Scenario: Back again to the grocery store. You are standing in line when another shopper rams into you with their shopping cart. As a result, you are thrown into a display and cut your arm rather badly. If the joker with the grocery cart owns a home and has a homeowners policy, you can make a claim against that coverage.
What if I’m in a parking lot and someone assaults me? This type of a claim is known as “Negligent Security.” Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises safe for their customers. If you are assaulted in a parking lot, you may be able to bring a claim for personal injury against the property owner. Often times, there are insurance policies that the property owner will have that may cover this sort of thing.
We have discussed a number of different types of personal injury. Fighter Law hopes you never have to deal with any of these incidents. If you or someone you know has been hurt, please call us and we will be happy to discuss your options.
Thomas Feiter is an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney. Personal injury means car accidents, slip and fall, criminal acts resulting in injury, dog bites, negligent security, bed bugs, truck accidents, school bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, almost anything where a person has been hurt at the fault of another. We have handled many types of these cases and would be honored to help you or your loved one.
It is very important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to make sure you are not foregoing any of your rights. For example, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident or your insurance company could deny you certain benefits. Contact us today to learn more. To get all of your insurance medical benefits, you have to suffer what is called “an emergency medical condition.” If not, your insurance coverage for medical bills can be limited from $10,000 to $2,500!
It’s also important to remember that you may still have a case even if you were cited for the accident. Florida Law does, however, require that you demonstrate that you have a “permanent injury” before the insurance companies are liable to pay you anything for your injuries. If you make a full recovery, you may not be able to recover anything! Most people do not understand (or believe) that when we explain it. So it is almost always in your best interests to at least consult with an experienced personal injury attorney prior to making a demand to the insurance company or expecting that you will get reimbursed without the proper medical documentation.
Please do not misunderstand this concept, however. Even if you have not suffered a broken bone, scarring, burns or paralysis, you still may have a good claim for damages. In car accidents, for example, personal injury protection (or PIP) may not cover all of your medical expenses. When another person’s negligence harms you and your family, it is highly advisable to talk to an attorney right away to protect your rights.
Uninsured motorists are a big problem in Florida. If you are the victim of getting hit by someone who didn’t carry car insurance or didn’t carry enough, call us today at 407-344-4837 to discuss your case with an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney. And always make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage included in your policy. It is well worth the money and it usually is not that much more.
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