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01/10/2014
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What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

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Personal Injury

Personal Injury Protection is a commonly confused concept. The reason for this is due, in part, to the fact that only a handful of states require policyholders to have PIP coverage, and because Florida has a high rate of both new residents and transient individuals, many are unfamiliar with no-fault laws. However, it is not uncommon for an individual, who has resided in Florida their entire life, to have difficulty interpreting policy coverage associated with PIP coverage. The auto accident attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. offer the following in an effort to provide clarification on the basic principles of Personal Injury Protection.

Many of us have heard of the term ‘PIP,’ and yet, we might not fully understand its meaning, particularly what benefits the coverage provides or encompasses.  PIP is an acronym, standing for Personal Injury Protection. All Florida auto policies are required to include a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for Personal Injury Protection. States that require PIP coverage, are often referred to as ‘no-fault’ states.

Florida Statute §627.736(1), pertaining to ‘Required Benefits, provides, in part:

“An insurance policy complying with the security requirements of s.627.733 must provide personal injury protection to the named insured, relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured motor vehicle, passengers in the motor vehicle, and other persons struck by the motor vehicle and suffering bodily injury while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle, subject to subsection (2) and paragraph (4)(e), to a limit of $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle…”

In interpreting the statute, one of the most common inquires that many have is ‘What will PIP provide coverage for?’ Personal Injury Protection can be more easily understood by distinguishing between four main categories of benefit coverage: (1) Medical Benefits; (2) Disability benefits; (3) Death Benefits; and (4) Other / Reasonable expenses.

It is important to remember that just because you have the required state minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage, does not mean that if you are injured in an accident you will automatically be entitled to that amount. Accordingly, when viewing each of the following categories of benefit coverage, keep in mind that there are numerous other factors, both statutory and factual, to take into consideration when assessing entitlement to PIP benefits under Florida law.

Medical Benefits. Coverage for 80% of medically necessary treatment and services, up to $10,000.

Disability Benefits. Coverage for 60% for loss of income or earning capacity from inability to work associated with an injury up to $10,000.

Death Benefits: Coverage for 100% of death benefits up to $5,000 per individual—in addition to medical and disability.

Other / Reasonable Expenses: Technically included under medical and disability, but it can be helpful to consider this in isolation from actual medical bills. Consider this coverage for any reasonable expenses that are not billed directly by or through a medical providers. This includes compensation for loss of services that would have been received absent the injury; compensation for mileage to medical provider; other reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses, such as cost or co-pay of prescription and non-prescription medication.

It is also important to know that the Florida’s PIP statute sets forth only the minimum amount of coverage required. Many insurance providers offer additional PIP coverage that the policyholder may elect to include. This type of optional coverage is sometimes referred to as ‘extended personal injury protection.’

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The Accident & Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. understand the concerns that clients have in interpreting coverage provisions associated with PIP benefits, and also take note of the impediments Florida’s no-fault laws have created in allowing the average consumer to gain a full understanding. Often, these impediments not only make selecting appropriate auto coverage difficult, but can lead to great confusion when the benefits are actually needed.

If you or a loved one were involved in an auto collision, contact our Gainesville – Ocala Lawyers today to discuss your legal rights and options. Let the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. go to work on your behalf to obtain the justice and compensation you and your family deserve.

To continue reading more information on Personal Injury Protection, see ‘Who is Covered by PIP?