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Basics of Insurance

Florida Trucking Accident Lawyer, Dean Burnetti provides professional Trucking Accident and Injury Attorney legal services in Lakeland, Tampa, Sarasota, Ocala, and Central and West Central Florida.

Call 863.287.6388 or 813.287.6388 about your Trucking Accident Personal Injury legal needs in the Florida Counties of Polk, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Levy, Highlands, Hardee, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, and Manatee County.

Dean Burnetti, Esq.

If you were injured in an accident involving a semi-truck, it’s important to understand not only how your own auto insurance works, but also how the trucking company’s insurance works.  Below are the requirements of each type of vehicle insurance and how they might apply to your accident:

What insurance is required to drive an automobile in Florida?
To register a personally-owned automobile (not a commercial or public passenger vehicle) in Florida, the minimum insurance coverage needed includes $10,000 in P.I.P. (or Personal Injury Protection) coverage, which insures you if you are injured in an accident (regardless of who is at fault), as well as $10,000 in P.D.L. (or Property Damage Liability), which covers damage to the other driver’s vehicle if you are involved in an accident and are at fault. 

What insurance is required to drive a commercial truck in Florida?
Florida and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have specific insurance requirements when it comes to commercial trucks (a/k/a semi-trucks, tractor trailers, or “big rigs”).  The minimum amount of Liability Coverage required depends on the type of cargo the trucks are hauling, such as:

In Florida, truck drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of “public liability” insurance in order to register their commercial truck.  The minimum requirement varies based on the truck’s weight.  The state’s minimum requirements (depending on vehicle weight) are:

For larger commercial trucks, Florida has the following insurance requirements:

Failure of a truck driver to carry adequate insurance is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation.

Certain types of trucks and commercial vehicles in Florida are required to carry B.I. (or Bodily Injury Liability).  In Florida, whether Bodily Injury Liability coverage is required depends on one or more of the following:

For purposes of Bodily Injury Liability Coverage on commercial motor vehicles, there are two statutes (Florida Statute §207.002 and §320.01) that define what a commercial motor vehicle is.

To break these statutes down so they’re easier to understand, a truck that weighs 25,999 pounds or less, and that is not owned or operated by a governmental entity, and is not used for interstate travel is not required to carry any amount of Bodily Injury Liability Coverage because it weighs under 26,000 pounds.

A commercial truck that weighs more than 26,000 but less than 35,000 pounds, and that is driven only in Florida, and is not used for interstate travel, and is not owned or operated by a governmental entity is required to have a minimum of $50,000 per occurrence in combined Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and Property Damage Liability Coverage.

A commercial truck that weighs more than 35,000 but less than 44,000 pounds, and that is driven only in Florida, and is not used for interstate travel, and is not owned or operated by a governmental entity is required to have a minimum of $100,000 per occurrence in combined Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and Property Damage Liability Coverage.

A commercial truck that weighs more than 44,000 pounds, and that is driven only in Florida, and is not used for interstate travel, and is not owned or operated by a governmental entity is required to have a minimum of $300,000 per occurrence in combined Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and Property Damage Liability Coverage.

A commercial truck that weighs 10,001 or more pounds, but it used in interstate commerce, meaning the truck is a for-hire (a for-hire carriage is a truck that is in the business of transporting the goods or property of another person, company, or entity for compensation), must carry a minimum of $750,000 in Public Liability Coverage.  Public Liability Coverage means liability for Bodily Injury and/or Property Damage.

In addition to the above insurance limits for commercial trucks, there’s the question of insurance on the trailer being pulled.  If the trailer was owned by a different company than the tractor, it’s possible that the trailer could have a secondary insurance policy in addition to the tractor’s insurance policy.

If the truck that hit you was owned by Florida state or one of its counties, cities, or municipalities, they are not required to carry the same limits of insurance as other commercial vehicles.  In an accident with a truck owned by state or local government, the most you can get is $200,000 per person / $300,000 per occurrence.

There is no limit on the United States government’s liability if its driver’s negligence caused your injury.  This is true whether you are in an accident with a United States Postal Truck, a U.S. customs vehicle, or another type of federal vehicle.

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Let’s explore the different options you have regarding your own auto insurance and explain the differences from the above trucking requirements:

What is “pip insurance?”
In Florida, a minimum of $10,000 in P.I.P. coverage is required to register a vehicle.  The acronym “P.I.P.” stands for Personal Injury Protection, also known as “No-Fault” insurance.  Regardless of who is at fault in a trucking accident, your own P.I.P. insurance covers a percentage of your own medical bills. 

P.I.P. also covers you if you are injured while you are a passenger in someone else’s car, as well as if you borrow and drive someone else’s vehicle and are injured.  Oftentimes, people will ask, “If I was a passenger in my buddy’s car, and we were rear-ended, why is my insurance involved?”  The answer is:  That’s how the law works.

P.I.P. is also known as “No-Fault” insurance because it is used, no matter whose fault the accident was.  Unlike other portions of your insurance coverage, using your own P.I.P. does not raise your insurance rates. 

If you have a family member living with you (known in the insurance world as a “resident relative”), and they are uninsured and are injured in a trucking accident, they would be covered under your P.I.P. insurance, even if the accident didn’t involve your car and you were not present at the time of the accident.  Again, this will not raise your rates.

P.I.P. insurance pays for 80% of your medical bills associated with your accident, a portion of your prescription costs associated with your accident, 60% of your wages lost due to your accident, and reimbursement for mileage to and from your doctors’ appointments related to your accident.

P.I.P. also offers limited death benefits.  If the named policyholder (only) is killed in a trucking accident, P.I.P. pays up to $5,000 for the costs associated with their funeral / burial expenses.
What is property damage liability coverage?
In Florida, a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability coverage is required to register a vehicle.  Property Damage Liability coverage pays for damages you (or whomever drives your car) cause to other people's property in a motor vehicle crash.  (This could be their vehicle that is damaged or something else that your vehicle damages, such as their fence, mailbox, house, cow, etc.  It could also cover something inside or strapped to their vehicle that is damaged such as their bicycle, kayak, luggage, school books, laptop, etc.)

Property Damage coverage does not protect the coverage owner’s own vehicle in the event of an accident.  Your own (optional) Comprehensive and Collision coverage protects your own property. 

The State of Florida requires Property Damage coverage to ensure that all drivers will be able to assume at least some financial responsibility for damage that they may cause in an accident. 

What is bodily injury insurance?
Bodily Injury (B.I.) Liability coverage pays for the injury or death to other people – not yourself – when you cause or are found at fault for a motor vehicle accident.  Your insurance company will pay for injuries up to the limits of your policy, meaning if you’ve purchased $50,000 in liability coverage, it will pay the injured party up to $50,000.  (However, if their injuries only amount to $7,000, that’s all they will receive.)  It also means that if you have only $10,000 in liability coverage, and the victim has $80,000 in injuries, they will likely collect the $10,000 plus it may be possible for them to attempt to seek more money through other legal channels, though this doesn’t often happen.

Another benefit of carrying Bodily Injury Liability coverage is that if you cause an accident that injures or kills another party, this coverage provides you with legal representation (a lawyer) – at no additional cost to you – if you are sued by the injured party.

If another driver causes an accident in which you get injured, and you seek an attorney, the first thing that attorney will do is see if the at-fault driver has Bodily Injury Liability coverage.  If, for example, they have what’s called a “10/20 B.I. policy”, that means that they have Bodily Injury Liability coverage in the amount of $10,000 per person, and $20,000 per accident.  That means if you and your spouse were rear-ended and received significant injuries, you could each receive $10,000 for your injuries.  If your spouse received only minor injuries, and you received great injuries, you cannot co-mingle the coverage and give $5,000 to your spouse and take $15,000 for yourself.  Also, if you, your spouse, and your child were all injured by someone who carried a 10/20 B.I. policy, a mediator would decide how to split the total of $20,000 without allowing any single person to have more than $10,000. 

While Bodily Injury Liability coverage is not mandatory to drive in the State of Florida, it’s not a bad thing to carry.
What is med-pay insurance?
Med-Pay Coverage covers the medical payments of all the passengers in your vehicle (including yourself) in the event that they become injured in an accident.

Similar to P.I.P. coverage, Med Pay covers medical expenses that result from an auto accident, regardless of who was at fault.  Only injuries caused by the accident will be covered by Med Pay (unlike P.I.P. that covers lost wages, medical mileage reimbursement, etc.). 

Med Pay is purchased on a “by vehicle” basis, meaning that if you have two cars, you must purchase Med Pay for both vehicles if you wish to covered while in either car.

Med Pay is not a replacement for health insurance. Med Pay coverage is strictly limited to injuries that occur during auto accidents and almost always has a limit of $25,000. 
What is uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist insurance?
Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (collectively known as “U.M. Coverage”) goes hand in hand.  You can’t purchase one without the other. 

The reason for U.M. Coverage is if you are injured in an auto accident by a driver that does not carry Bodily Injury insurance coverage, your “Uninsured Motorist” Coverage would kick in to take the place of the at-fault driver’s missing B.I. coverage.  If you were severely injured by a driver who carried only minimal B.I. coverage, your “Underinsured Motorist” Coverage would kick in, because, the at-fault party was literally underinsured.

What is stackable insurance?
Stackable (a/k/a “Stacked”) Insurance Coverage increases your Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage limits in relation to the total number of vehicles you insure.  This means you can combine the Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage limits for multiple vehicles or multiple policies, resulting in a higher potential payout after an accident.

What is comprehensive insurance?
Comprehensive and Collision Insurance often go hand in hand (they are purchased together). Comprehensive Insurance Coverage pays toward replacing your vehicle if it's stolen or repairing your vehicle if it becomes damaged in an incident (whether driving or parked) that is not a collision*.

(*While Comprehensive Insurance Coverage does not cover vehicle damage due to auto accidents, it will cover damage to your car caused by an accident with an animal, such as hitting a deer or alligator.  However, if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer or alligator and, in doing so, hit another car or tree, that accident would be covered by Collision rather than Comprehensive.  Accidents with animals are covered by Comprehensive because they are considered to be out of your control.)

Even though Comprehensive Insurance Coverage doesn’t cover vehicle damage resulting from a trucking accident, it will cover other damage that may happen while driving, such as when a semi-truck kicks up rocks or splatters hot tar on your vehicle.  It also covers auto damage or loss for a variety of other reasons such as:

What is collision insurance?
While Comprehensive covers events that are out of your control, Collision covers auto damage to your own car, resulting from motor vehicle accidents, even if you caused the accident that damaged your vehicle.
What is gap insurance?
The acronym G.A.P. stands for “Guaranteed Asset Protection.”  If you’re involved in a trucking accident and your car is declared a total loss, many insurance policies will reimburse you for up to the “fair market value” of the vehicle, though often, the “fair market value” is less than what you still own on the balance of your auto loan.

If you owe more on your car than it’s worth at the time of your accident and your vehicle is declared a total loss, G.A.P. insurance  would pay the difference between what the vehicle is worth and what you still owe your finance company so you’re not still responsible to pay out of your pocket for a car that no longer runs. 

If you were injured or if a loved one was killed in a trucking accident, and you aren’t sure what your insurance options are, Dean Burnetti Law can help.  Call Dean Burnetti Law at 863-287-6388 (Polk County) or 813-287-6388 (Hillsborough County) today to schedule your free consultation.

Call 863.287.6388 or 813.287.6388 today to schedule your free and confidential Trucking Accident Injury Legal Consultation with Central Florida Lawyer, Dean Burnetti.

Dean Burnetti, Esq

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