It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida.
However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive the financial compensation you need to pay off your bills and cover any damaged incurred in your accident. This blog post is designed to answer the big questions you may have about the process and procedures of filing PIP litigation in Florida. For a wider range of questions on personal injury law in general, click here.
Everything You Need to Know about Florida PIP Litigation
When Should You File a Lawsuit?
The first thing to do is to file a claim with your insurance company. This process may be slightly different for each type of insurance or insurer, so be sure to understand your policy before you begin.
There are tight deadlines associated with filing a PIP claim. Both you and your insurance company are required to follow these deadlines. We recommend filing your claim as soon as possible, and keeping documentary evidence of when you filed the claim and the response that you received.
If the insurance company refuses to pay the claim or the amount they offer does not cover your damages, it may be time to file a PIP lawsuit. Before you do that, though, you must write a Demand Letter.
What Goes in the Demand Letter?
This letter will detail your dispute and lay out the amount of money that should be paid to cover the claim, interest, and other costs caused by the rejection itself (postage, penalty, and so on). You cannot ask for attorney’s fees in a Demand Letter, though you can ask for them once you file a lawsuit.
The insurance company has 30 days to pay the claim. For many, a Demand Letter is all it takes to get compensation, but after 30 days are over, it’s time to file a lawsuit.
What Do You Need to File a Lawsuit?
Collect thorough documentation of your medical expenses and other forms of financial loss (public transportation tickets after an auto accident, pay stubs from the time that you were injured). Have witness testimony to back up what happened the day of your accident. Also keep any record of your interactions with your insurance company.
Your lawyer can help you go through your current insurance policy and find anything that supports your right to be compensated for your damages. Each case is different, but the more evidence you have against you insurance company, the better you will fare in court.
Will I Have to Attend a Hearing?
Most likely, your lawsuit will be settled out of court through negotiations, but if your insurance company continues to refuse to cooperate, you may have to go to trial.
What If I Have Already Used Up All of My Benefits?
At this point, you may not be able to file a PIP claim or lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
While there are tight deadlines for filing your initial claim, you have more time to take legal action and file a lawsuit. In general, Florida’s statute of limitations gives you five years past the day that the claim was due to file a Demand Letter and lawsuit.
Remember that there are limits to PIP, though. Based on the type of injury you have sustained (i.e., if the injury is severe and your damages exceed PIP coverage), you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit, which comes with a different statute of limitations.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.