Is an Injured Child Automatically Entitled to Compensation for Automobile Accident Related Injuries in Florida?

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In the State of Florida and other states, a common automobile accident case involves one motor vehicle crashing into the rear end of another motor vehicle. This is commonly referred to as a “rear end crash” or a “rear end collision”. In Florida, the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the vehicle in front of this driver is typically responsible or liable for the damages and injuries caused by the automobile accident. There are some limited exceptions to this general rule or statute. Namely, if the driver in front stopped very abruptly or suddenly, then there could be an argument that the abruptly stopping driver is at fault or partially at fault for the crash. When there is a rear end accident a question that is often posed is as follows:

Is a child automatically entitled to compensation when there is a Florida rear end automobile accident?

This question is loaded in some sense by the insertion of the word “automatically”. While there could be compensation to a child injury in a rear end accident, the automatic part is something that changes the question dramatically. In Florida, a child injured in a rear end accident could be entitled to compensation under an automobile insurance policy as follows:

PIP (Personal Injury Protection).
PIP refers to personal injury protection. Typically, a child is covered for PIP under his parents’ automobile insurance policy regardless of who is at fault for the accident. This follows Florida’s No-Fault laws as it pertains to the payment of medical bills. Under Florida law, a child could be entitled to “Up to $2500” of medical bills OR “Up to $10,000” in medical bills depending on the severity of the injuries, the type of treatment rendered, and whether the child had suffered what is known as an Emergency Medical Condition otherwise referred to EMC. If the child obtains treatment within 14 days following the automobile accident, then PIP will pay 80% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the automobile accident up to the aforementioned limits. Because of the complexities of Florida’s automobile insurance laws, it is important that the child obtain medical treatment from a medical professional who is both qualified in the area of medicine and knowledgeable as to the documentation and billing requirements of Florida PIP laws and procedures.

BI (Bodily Injury).
A child may be entitled to bodily injury coverage under the at fault driver’s automobile insurance policy for the payment of medical bills not otherwise covered by PIP and for pain and suffering related damages or injuries. Also as part of Florida’s No-Fault laws, there is a provision that requires that an accident victim suffer permanent injury or significant scarring in order to be entitled to pain and suffering type of damages otherwise referred to as the economic damages. A permanent injury does not necessarily mean that the child cannot walk, cannot run, cannot function, and partipate in school activities or sports. A permanent injury means that the child did not fully recover from the automobile accident injuries from a physical standpoint and his left with some lingering and ongoing pain and / or medical problems.

Again, there are certain doctors who are well-versed in both the type of medical treatment necessary to be provided to injured children and in the requirements necessary for documentation of progress notes, final reports, and, yes, the testimony that is necessary to establish a permanent injury or scarring.

It should be noted that bodily injury insurance coverage in Florida is optional. In other words, if a person is at fault for a rear end accident, there is no requirement that this driver or owner carry bodily injury insurance. As such, when there is a Florida automobile accident, it is always preferable that the at fault driver and / or at fault owner of the motor vehicle carry the optional type of insurance called bodily injury insurance coverage.

UM (Uninsured or Under Insured).
One of the more confusing types of insurance available to owners of vehicles in the Florida is called Uninsured or Under Insured motorist coverage otherwise known as you UM coverage. Like BI coverage, the purchase of you UM coverage is optional. UM coverage can provide for benefits to an injured child under the parents’ automobile insurance policy and / or the policy of the vehicle occupied by the child. Like BI coverage, a child may be entitled to compensation for medical bills not otherwise covered by the PIP coverage. In addition a child may be entitled to pain and suffering type of damages that are not otherwise covered by bodily injury insurance coverage. It should be noted that UM coverage only kicks in if there is no BI coverage OR if the BI coverage is not sufficient in the amount to cover the full value of the personal injury case.

Because of the complexities of Florida law and insurance coverage, a parent of an injured child should consult with a Florida Child Injury Lawyer when there is an automobile accident. The book titled – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident, has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, and other topics.