When an Accident Happens on Your Florida Vacation
Central Florida is a popular summer destination for families, who travel across I-10 or down I-75 to get to Disney World and other amusement parks. With a prime location at the intersection of two major interstates and thousands of hotel rooms on offer, Lake City is a natural stopover for both Floridians and tourists. And with so many cars on the road at this time of year, accidents are bound to happen and leave families with a different set of memories than they had planned for.
Most drivers have no idea how traveling across state lines might affect their automobile insurance coverage and the claims process should they be involved in an accident. If you’re planning to visit Florida or have already been in a car accident here, it’s important to note that the state’s no-fault insurance rules apply, even if your policy was issued in an at-fault state, such as Georgia. Under Florida law, each driver’s insurance pays for the policy holder’s own medical costs up to a certain amount. In at-fault states, the only way to claim damages is to first prove that the other driver caused the collision.
Understanding these basics of Florida’s no-fault system can help you recover maximum compensation for your medical expenses and other injury-related costs:
- Delaying medical attention could cost you — Under Florida law, accident victims are entitled to medical benefits under their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage only if they seek treatment within 14 days of the accident. Another benefit of not waiting to see your hometown doctor is that a contemporaneous medical report links the injury to the accident and is proof, should you need it later for a lawsuit, that you were truly hurting enough to seek treatment.
- Not all damages are covered — Florida law requires all drivers to carry the PIP minimum coverage level, which applies to medical costs and lost wages. However, PIP only covers 80 percent of medical costs and 60 percent of lost wages up to the policy amount ($10,000 minimum per state law). Any deductible you have on your policy will also come into play.
- You may be able to sue for a serious injury — Accident victims cannot pursue a lawsuit unless they suffer serious, permanent injuries or injuries that result in more than $10,000 in medical expenses. Under the state statute, permanent injuries include those that result in a loss of a bodily function, such as sight, loss of a limb and disfigurement. When a policy holder is killed in a collision or dies as a result of the injuries sustained, next of kin may sue for damages above what PIP coverage pays in death benefits.
Because of the complexity of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, injured tourists should consider working with a local attorney who know the courts, roads and law enforcement personnel and has experience fighting insurance companies within the no-fault construct.
The attorneys at Robinson, Kennon & Kendron, P.A., with offices in Lake City and Live Oak, Florida, have vast experience representing clients in auto accident cases. Call us at 844.210.0025 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.