No matter how you travel, by car, bike, golf cart, or your own two feet, safety is probably your top priority. Even the most careful rider may experience the occasional accident. When that does happen, it helps to know your rights and responsibilities. If you are in an accident and are injured, there are several avenues of recovery available to you. These types of coverage will vary according to whether you suffered economic or non-economic damages. In many cases, of course, both economic and non-economic damages exist.
Economic Damage in Florida
Economic damage refers to tangible expenses after an accident and includes medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. In any accident involving a motor vehicle, the first avenue for recovery of economic damages is PIP insurance. PIP is a no-fault insurance that must be purchased by every person who owns a car in the state of Florida. Your PIP insurance will cover you and members of your household if you or a household member is involved in an accident with a car, whether as a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian. If neither you nor any member of your household owns a vehicle, the PIP insurance of the responsible driver may cover some of your economic damages. PIP will cover 80% of your medical expenses up to a limit of $10,000, and 60% of your lost wages, up to a limit of $10,000. Lost wages may include reimbursement for hiring people to do household chores like yard care, cooking, and cleaning if you are unable. Your PIP insurance does not cover property damage, but if another person was at fault for the accident, their PIP insurance will cover your property damage. If you own a vehicle, you may opt to add MedPay to your policy, which will cover medical expenses not paid by PIP.
All drivers are required to carry PIP insurance in Florida, but they are not required to carry additional liability insurance. If you are in an accident and the responsible party does carry additional liability insurance, their insurance may cover damage to your car or bicycle. If the responsible party was uninsured or did not carry liability coverage for property damage, you uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damage to property.
Non-Economic Damages in Florida
The Florida no-fault system is intended to eliminate lawsuits in automobile accidents, except when there is a serious injury, defined as a permanent injury, significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement, or loss of a bodily function. In these cases, an injured person may step out of the no-fault system and sue the responsible driver. Damages for non-economic losses can be recovered in a lawsuit outside of the no-fault PIP system. These damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
These types of damages are usually much greater than the economic losses.
Unfortunately, drivers in Florida are not required to carry any insurance beyond the mandated PIP limits, so a lawsuit against an uninsured or underinsured driver may result in a judgment, but little to no chance of actually recovering the money awarded. In those cases, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay for the non-economic losses, up to the limits of your policy.
How To Protect Yourself in Florida
If you are in an accident while riding your bicycle or driving a golf cart, and no motor vehicle was involved, your automobile policy will not cover anything. Your homeowner’s insurance policy may cover property damage to a bicycle or golf cart, but may require a special endorsement if the golf cart is driven on any public roads. Many policies only cover golf carts when on the homeowner’s property or on a golf course. Even with a golf cart endorsement to your homeowner’s policy, only theft or damage to the golf cart may be covered. Neither your economic nor your on-economic damages will be covered if you are injured.
If you injure someone while driving in a golf cart or riding a bicycle, their PIP insurance will cover their medical expenses and lost wages up to the policy limit, and their MedPay coverage will step in for any medical expenses over and above the PIP limits. You will still face possible liability for any non-economic damages. The best way to protect yourself is to purchase a stand-alone bicycle or golf cart insurance policy, which will cover property damages, medical expenses not already covered by health insurance, non-economic damages up to the limit you choose, and liability, up to the limit you choose.