You may already know that Florida is one of a handful of states that has a no-fault system for car accident liability. But you may not know what the no-fault system is or what you need to do to comply with it.
What you do after an accident can have an impact on the success of your claim. That’s why it’s essential to work with an experienced car accident attorney to determine your rights under Florida’s no-fault system. Here’s your complete guide to Florida’s no-fault insurance laws.
What is Florida No-Fault Insurance?
Florida’s no-fault insurance law is a system where all drivers buy insurance coverage. For minor car accidents, the insurance coverage applies whether or not you’re at fault for the crash.
Instead of sorting out who’s to blame for each accident, each person involved in the crash looks to their own PIP insurance coverage to recover for their own damages. The goal is to have cases resolve quickly, accident victims get the payments they need, and fewer cases end up in court.
What Kind of Coverage Do I Get Under the No-Fault System?
Under the no-fault system, every person must buy Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance. PIP insurance covers a range of damages for a victim in a crash. The insurance also covers victims in your household anytime they’re in a collision even if you’re not in the vehicle.
Also, PIP insurance covers passengers in your vehicle if they don’t have their own insurance or coverage through a family member. PIP insurance applies without your having to prove the other side caused the accident. PIP insurance pays for qualified losses up to the policy limits.
What Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) Coverage Do I Need?
There are minimum amounts of PIP coverage that you have to buy. You must purchase an amount to cover bodily injury for one person, another amount for total bodily injury for everyone covered by the policy, and another amount to cover property damages that occur in the accident. The current minimums are as follows:
$10,000 for bodily injuries to any one person
$20,000 for total bodily injuries for everyone covered under the policy
$10,000 for property damage
What does Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) Pay?
Many people are surprised to learn that PIP insurance doesn’t pay for 100 percent of their losses in the event that they’re in a crash. Instead, PIP insurance pays a percentage of the loss depending on the category of the loss. PIP insurance pays for damages as follows:
Medical bills: 80 percent
Lost wages: 60 percent
Replacement services: 100 percent
Death benefit: $5,000
Replacement services are anything that you need to hire out because of your injuries. For example, if you have to hire someone to mow the lawn when you used to take care of it yourself, the cost of hiring a lawn mowing service is a replacement service under Florida’s PIP benefits. You should receive 100 percent reimbursement for all replacement services and the respective percentages of other types of coverage, up to your policy limit.
Don’t Forget About the Deductible
Remember that you’ve got an insurance deductible. Your losses must meet the deductible before the insurance policy kicks in. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, and you have $2,000 in medical bills, your insurance pays you 80 percent of $1,000 or $800. You must cover the remaining damages out of pocket.
Who Needs No-Fault Insurance?
If you register a vehicle in the State of Florida, you must have no-fault insurance. If you don’t own a car, you don’t have to buy PIP insurance.
You may be covered under your family member’s PIP policy as long as you live with them. When you don’t own a vehicle, and no one in your family has PIP insurance, the vehicle driver’s PIP insurance can step in and cover your losses, and you don’t need to buy insurance.
Can I Ever Bring a Claim Outside of the No-Fault System?
In serious car accidents, Florida’s no-fault system may not apply. Florida law 627.737(2) applies in cases of accidents with permanent injuries. To qualify, you must suffer a significant or permanent loss of an important bodily function, significant scarring, major disfigurement or death.
If you have a qualifying injury, you may move outside of Florida’s no-fault system and bring a traditional lawsuit against the responsible party for the full value of your claim. Your attorney can help you understand if you qualify to bring this type of claim.
When Would I Bring a Legal Claim Under No-Fault?
There are times that you may need to bring a legal claim based on Florida’s no-fault laws. If the insurance company doesn’t agree to pay you what your claim is worth, you may need to bring the case to a courtroom.
The case would be against your own insurance company or against the insurance company that should be covering your PIP benefits. Under the no-fault system, the claim isn’t based on fault. Rather it’s a claim based on the insurance company’s failure to honor the terms of the PIP policy.
What Other Kinds of Coverage Can I Get?
In addition to basic PIP coverage, there are other types of coverage that you can get under Florida’s no-fault insurance. You can buy insurance that covers additional medical bills. That’s called a medical payment rider. The medical payment rider kicks in to cover additional medical bills up to your policy limit after your PIP insurance is exhausted.
There’s also optional coverage in case you’re in an accident that falls outside Florida’s no-fault system. There’s bodily injury coverage in case you’re at fault for an accident where someone else gets catastrophically hurt. There’s also uninsured or underinsured coverage in case the other side is at fault, but they don’t have bodily insurance coverage to compensate you. Both of these types of insurance are important to have to keep your assets and peace of mind protected as you travel in Florida.
How Can An Attorney Help?
Florida’s no-fault insurance scheme can be complicated and confusing when you’re in an accident. If you’re not sure how to recover after your Florida car accident, contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys to discuss your options. Our legal team has the experienced to help you successfully navigate the no-fault system and get the compensation you need.
If you’re not sure how to proceed under Florida’s no-fault laws after a crash, call us at (813) 333-6666 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation. There is no fee unless we win.