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What Does Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Law Mean?

What Does Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Law Mean?

Car accident attorneys from Fetterman & Associates, PA, deal with car accident claims regularly. We can help clients understand their rights and the amount of compensation they can receive. However, some clients don’t realize that Florida is a no-fault state. Understanding what this means helps set your case up for success and prepares you for the outcome.

Here you can learn about Florida’s no-fault insurance guidelines and how they will impact your car accident case.

Understanding the No-Fault Law in Florida

In Florida, the no-fault law means that if a car accident occurs, both (or all) people involved will file a claim with their auto insurance provider. This happens no matter who was at fault for the accident. To ensure drivers are covered, Florida requires all drivers to have Personal Injury Protection or PIP, included as part of their policy.

No-fault laws aimed to make it easier for individuals injured in an accident to get the medical treatment needed. While this is the goal, there are some restrictions to these policies and what they cover. For example, there’s a limit to how much PIP will pay for medical costs. This coverage only pays up to a set amount.

If you experience more serious injuries in a car accident, and they meet the “injury threshold,” or if they exceed your total PIP coverage, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. You should contact our car accident attorneys to help with this process.

The Origin of Florida’s No-Fault Law

There are just 12 states (including Florida) in the country that have no-fault laws. These laws were created in the 1970s in response to the frustration of trying to recover compensation after a car accident. The thought was that the inefficiencies of the insurance claim process could be minimized if a no-fault system was enacted. With the introduction of this system, many also thought that insurance premiums would go down; however, this didn’t happen. In fact, in most no-fault states, insurance premiums are higher than what people in at-fault states pay.

While this is true, it is still the law, and therefore those living in and visiting Florida need to understand how it can impact their car accident claim and the compensation they receive.

Is It Mandatory for Drivers to Have No-Fault Insurance Coverage in Florida?

In the state of Florida, anyone who owns or operates a vehicle must purchase no-fault insurance coverage. The statute doesn’t include motorcycles, which means motorcyclists don’t have to purchase PIP coverage. Also, nonresident owners who will be in the state for over 90 days in 365 days must purchase no-fault coverage.

Also, just like with many other auto insurance requirements, Florida provides another option besides purchasing PIP insurance. Most don’t use this option because it is typically more expensive and difficult than just purchasing insurance coverage. The other option is to provide “security.” There are two ways to do this:

  • Surety bond
  • Certificate of self-insurance provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety

Florida PIP Requirements

Florida has set minimum amounts for PIP insurance coverage for Florida drivers. You must have $10,000 in medical and disability benefits per person, per accident. There’s also a requirement of $5,000 for death benefits. These funds are paid without consideration of fault.

PIP insurance benefits cover the policy owner and relatives living in the same house as the policy owner. PIP coverage will be used for any injury that occurs based on vehicle ownership, use, or maintenance. For example, there have been situations where the court allowed PIP coverage to kick in even though the injury resulted from someone intentionally throwing a rock at a vehicle.

Personal Injury Protection coverage will pay for 80% of all medical treatments up to the $10,000 per person covered. It also pays 60% of disability benefits up to the $10,000 limit. A disability occurs when someone loses income or earning capacity because of the accident and resulting injuries.

PIP covers economic losses, not non-economic losses like pain and suffering. To recover non-economic losses, you need to make a claim against a bodily injury liability policy, against uninsured motorist coverage or file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident and injuries.

Dealing with Gaps

As you can tell from the breakdown of PIP insurance coverage above, no-fault insurance won’t cover everything regarding accident-related costs. You still have to handle the leftover 20% for your medical costs and 40% of your lost wages or income. While it depends on the severity of your injuries, this can be a significant amount of money.

You should keep this in mind when shopping for insurance. Sometimes, spending a little more now for full coverage insurance is worth it. This will ensure that all bills and costs related to an accident are covered if you are injured.

How Does Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Impact Your Car Accident Claim?

It’s important to note that the no-fault insurance requirement in Florida makes filing a car accident claim more challenging. It’s best to hire car accident attorneys from Fetterman & Associates, PA, to help you find options for covering all your accident-related costs.

Economic Damages 

Economic damages are the tangible costs of your accident. For no-fault states like Florida, this includes your medical bills and lost wages. Your PIP will cover the initial $10,000 of economic damages as mentioned above. It’s only possible to sue the at-fault driver for these damages if your PIP coverage doesn’t fully reimburse you.

Non-Economic Damages 

Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Florida no-fault insurance doesn’t pay anything for these things. Instead, you must make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance or file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s worth noting that a threshold requirement must be met to be eligible for non-economic damages in Florida. According to this requirement, you can recover non-economic damages if your injury results in any of the following issues:

  • Significant and permanent loss of any bodily function
  • Significant disfigurement or permanent scarring
  • Permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability besides disfigurement or scarring
  • Death

How to Handle a Car Accident in a No-Fault State

If you are a licensed driver in the state of Florida, you can have peace of mind knowing that medical costs will be handled by the PIP insurance coverage you have purchased. While this is true, taking notes about the accident is still pertinent.

While Florida uses a no-fault system for car accidents, if you experience debilitating, permanent, or severe injuries, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to receive the full compensation you deserve. After any car accident, it’s smart to note the following:

  • The name and contact information for the other driver
  • Driver’s license number and insurance information from the other driver
  • The license plate number of the other vehicle
  • Pictures of your accident
  • Visible injuries to you or your passengers
  • Official documents related to the accident, like a police report

Don’t Wait to Call Florida Car Accident Attorneys for Help

If you are involved in an accident, it’s important to reach out to car accident attorneys from Fetterman & Associates, PA, as soon as possible. They can review the facts of your accident and work to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Waiting to call for legal representation may make it more challenging to recover the compensation you deserve for your accident. Contact us for more info.

Read More

The Importance of Car Accident Reports in Florida

West Palm Beach Auto Accident: What You Need to Know

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