Friday, July 22, 2016

My Child Was Injured On The Bus; Do They Get Any PIP?


The answer lies in what type of bus your child was riding in. A city bus (HART etc.), a school bus (Cheese wagon) or a private bus (Greyhound etc.) But first we must answer the question: What is "Personal Injury Protection" (PIP) insurance?
 
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles defines it as: 

“Also called Florida No Fault Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance covers you - regardless of fault (i.e. whether or not you cause the crash) - up to the limits of your policy. Your PIP will also cover your child, members of your household, certain passengers who lack PIP Insurance as long as they do not own a vehicle. People riding in your vehicle who carry PIP will receive coverage under their own PIP for their injuries, and certain licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your permission. PIP also covers your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage protects you while in someone else's vehicle, as a pedestrian, or bicyclist if you suffer an injury in a crash involving a motor vehicle. The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, requires all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) if you own a motor vehicle in Florida. Florida law requires you to maintain PIP/PDL insurance continuously throughout the licensing and registration period.”

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is controlled by Florida Statute 627.736. (The Florida No Fault Law).

SCENARIO #1--CITY BUS:

The simple answer is no. A government bus is not considered a “motor vehicle” under Florida’s motor vehicle no-fault law. Specifically, “the term ‘motor vehicle’ does not include… any motor vehicle which is used in mass transit…and designed to transport more than five passengers exclusive of the operator of the motor vehicle and which is owned by a municipality, a transit authority, or a political subdivision of the state.”  Florida Statute 627.732(3).

Most people have no idea that, in Florida, buses, taxis, and other similar vehicles that carry people for a fee are classified as “common carriers”. Under Florida law, common carriers do not qualify as “motor vehicles” for automobile insurance purposes. The result being PIP benefits are not available for accidents related to those kinds of vehicles. 

Meaning, if your child was injured in a city bus or taxi accident, your child will need to rely upon health insurance, or will need to be prepared to pay cash for their medical expenses.

A silver lining however, is common carriers owe their passengers the highest degree of care for their safety.  Meaning bus and cab drivers owe a higher degree of care than simple “reasonable” care.  Stated more simply, things that might get a friend to being considered negligent if you were injured in their vehicle, might still expose a bus or cab driver, and by association, his or her employer, to liability for any damages caused to an injured passenger.

SCENARIO #2--PRIVATE BUS COMPANY:

The simple answer is yes.
For purposes of Florida PIP, “motor vehicle” includes:
  • Cars, SUVs and Jeeps
  • Campers and Motor Homes
  • Truck-Tractors
  • Private Buses and Private school buses
  • Taxicabs, Limousines
  • Emergency Vehicles (fire, police, ambulance)
  • Trailers (except mobile homes)
  • Semi-Trailers
  • Public School Buses
However, remember that PIP coverage follows the person and not the vehicle. Meaning if you as the parent, who lives with the child has PIP coverage, you would have the doctor’s bill under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This is because your own insurance covers all resident relatives who do not own a vehicle in which PIP was required. Therefore, your minor child would be covered under your own coverage.
However, what if you don’t have any car insurance yourself? Is your child out of luck? No, as long as you and/or no other person who is a relative to the child in the household does not own a vehicle that requires PIP coverage. If, for instance the child’s grandmother lives in the home and also has car insurance, your child’s coverage would come from grandma’s PIP insurance. When no person in the household owns a car in which PIP is required (scooters and motorcycles do not require PIP) then the child would claim the PIP insurance of the private bus.
SCENARIO #3—PUBLIC SCHOOL BUS:

Just as stated above, the answer is yes. Remember for purposes of Florida PIP, “motor vehicle” includes:
  • Cars, SUVs and Jeeps
  • Campers and Motor Homes
  • Truck-Tractors
  • Private Buses and Private school buses
  • Taxicabs, Limousines
  • Emergency Vehicles (fire, police, ambulance)
  • Trailers (except mobile homes)
  • Semi-Trailers
  • Public School Buses
Therefore the same with a private bus, if you have PIP insurance on your vehicle, your child gets your PIP coverage. If you and every relative who resides with you doesn’t own a vehicle that requires PIP, then your child would get the coverage under the county bus.

Call a St. Petersburg Vehicle Crash Attorney
If you or your child were involved in an auto collision while riding a bus, it is necessary to speak to a St. Petersburg auto accident attorney as soon as possible regardless of the extent of your injuries.  The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are experienced St. Petersburg bus collision lawyers who are prepared to review your case today and to assist you with that process to make certain that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.  Please call our office at (727) 222-6922.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922