Florida, like several other states, has a no-fault automobile insurance law. No-fault insurance often confuses people who suffered injuries in a car accident. People believe you cannot file a claim for personal injuries in a no-fault state like Florida. That is not the case. You can file an injury damage claim even in a no-fault state.
To understand how personal injury claims work in no-fault states like Florida, you should speak with an accident attorney. Injury attorney James M. Horne is an experienced, dedicated, and compassionate attorney in the Sarasota and Bradenton area who knows how to win. He can help you get the most out of your auto accident claim.
Florida Car Insurance Requirements
Florida law requires each vehicle with at least four wheels to be insured. Even if you live in another state and drive to Florida, your car must have at least $10,000 of personal injury protection, called PIP, and $10,000 of property damage liability insurance. Florida’s no-fault law helps people resolve injury claims without resorting to protracted litigation. Typically, the PIP process is quick. Your insurance carrier has 30 days to pay your bills and can deny coverage only if you intentionally injured yourself, faked an injury, or sustained an injury during the commission of a felony criminal offense.
Unlike other no-fault states, Florida does not require you to carry bodily injury coverage unless you have a DUI conviction.
You can also purchase additional coverage that can include bodily injury and death coverage, property damage coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, medical payment coverage, towing, rental, accidental death, and dismemberment coverage. None of these are required by law, although purchasing additional coverage is a good way to protect yourself if you ever cause an accident.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work In Florida?
As the name suggests, no-fault insurance means no one has to prove who caused the accident to collect compensation. To qualify, you must seek medical care for your injury within 14 days of the accident. Then, you submit your claim to your PIP insurance carrier. This is a first-party claim because you ask your insurance company for payment, not the insurance company covering the other driver. If your insurance company approves your claim, they will pay you:
- 80% of reasonable medical expenses,
- 60% of lost wages, and
- $5,000 for death benefits.
Keep in mind that you have to pay your deductible first. Deductibles range from $500 to $1,000, depending on your particular coverage. You cannot recover compensation for pain and suffering damages from PIP. Also, PIP does not cover auto repairs. However, you will not have to pay for the other person’s damages if their losses are less than $10,000 because their PIP coverage will reimburse them.
Seeking Compensation from the At-Fault Party
The minimum insurance coverage required by law is probably sufficient to cover minor injuries. But what can you do if your medical bills and lost wages are more than $10,000 and you were not at fault for the accident? In that case, you can file a personal injury claim against the other party.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will cover your losses that exceed the $10,000 PIP coverage limit. In Florida, you can file a third-party claim for damages like:
- Substantial or permanent loss of a bodily function,
- Long-term or permanent injuries,
- Scarring, and
- Wrongful death.
These damages are in addition to your damages claims for medical expenses exceeding the PIP coverage limit, lost wages, loss of future earnings, property damages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
How to Prove Fault in a Car Accident in Florida
Contacting an experienced car accident lawyer soon after your accident can help you prove the other driver caused your accident. An attorney will use evidence such as eyewitness statements, an examination of the crash scene, and reports from the investigating police department to help establish the other driver’s fault. This evidence could also help disprove the other driver’s claim that you contributed to the crash.
You still have to prove your losses exceed the PIP threshold. You can do that by compiling doctors’ opinions about the extent of your injury, collecting medical bills, accumulating pay stubs and other documents to prove your financial losses, and gathering other relevant evidence.
Florida’s insurance law allows injured parties to recover for damages even if they contributed to the crash. However, Florida is a pure comparative negligence state. That means an injured party’s full damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, assume a jury finds your losses total $100,000 and that you were 20% at fault for the collision. You will recover $80,000 in that case. In Florida, you can still recover damages even if you were more than 50% at fault for the accident.
Florida’s no-fault law does not allow a plaintiff to recover for PIP benefits. As a result, your award could be $10,000 less, or you will receive your full settlement amount, but you must pay your insurance company for the PIP benefits.
How an Attorney Can Help with My Car Accident Claim
An experienced and skilled auto accident attorney with a successful track record understands how to maximize your financial recovery. It starts with a thorough review of your case and your medical history. Insurance companies typically attack two fronts. First, they try to prove you caused the accident, and second, they will use your medical history against you by claiming you have a pre-existing injury. Even if you have trauma in your medical history, a knowledgeable lawyer knows how to present your case to best highlight exactly how the accident injured you.
A skilled lawyer can also identify any additional parties who could be responsible for your accident. A knowledgeable lawyer will also ensure you file your claim within the four-year statute of limitations. Florida law does not allow people to pursue a personal injury claim if they have not filed a case in court within four years of the accident. Finally, a skilled lawyer will understand how to maximize your damages claim by identifying the full extent of your losses.
Have More Questions About Is Florida a No-Fault State? Contact an Award-Winning Attorney for More Information
Florida accident attorney James M. Horne is an experienced injury lawyer recognized by Martindale-Hubbell as an AV-Preeminent rated attorney and by SuperLawyers. Only 5% of all lawyers earn the SuperLawyer rating for excellence. James Horne Law will give your case the attention it deserves so you can focus on your recovery. Contact us by phone or online today to schedule a free consultation.