Is Florida a No-Fault Insurance State?
This is a very common question that we receive from many clients and potential clients who do not understand how the motor vehicle liability insurance scheme in Florida works. This is not surprising, as the system is quite complicated. One of the most misunderstood aspects of personal injury law in Florida is the limited no-fault insurance scheme associated with the payment of the initial $10,000 of damages stemming from a motor vehicle accident. Although most people know someone who suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver and who may have had to resort to filing a negligence lawsuit against the negligent driver and/or his insurer, few Floridians know they are actually required to seek benefits under their own insurance policies first before making a claim with the other driver’s insurance, even if the other driver was clearly at fault in connection with the accident.
This requirement occurs in the context of the mandatory $10,000 in personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage that every Florida driver is required to carry in order to operate a motor vehicle on Florida’s roads. PIP is a form of no-fault insurance that covers any injuries, damages or losses a driver suffers in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault. The best way to think of PIP is as the first layer of insurance that will apply if you are in a motor vehicle accident. Once the PIP coverage available under your own insurance policy has been exhausted, then you will seek to recover the remainder of your damages and losses suffered in a Florida motor vehicle accident directly from the negligent driver and his or her insurer.
Florida’s Limited No-Fault Scheme for Motor Vehicle Accidents
Florida is one of only a few states that has a limited no-fault insurance scheme in place to deal with the consequences of motor vehicle accidents. Although it had been widely expected to pass, a PIP reform bill died in the 2018 session of the Florida Senate; the bill did not receive enough votes in a Senate subcommittee to pass onto the full Senate floor despite previously being passed by the Florida House on a vote of 88-15. Therefore, although there is speculation that a PIP reform measure will be considered again in the 2019 Florida legislative session, PIP is still required in Florida for every motorist on Florida’s roads and Florida’s PIP law is still in place.
As noted above, pursuant to Florida’s PIP law, every driver in the Sunshine State is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage. If a motorist is involved in an accident, no matter who caused the accident or the circumstances of the accident, then each driver looks to his or her own PIP insurance policy first (assuming the driver is carrying the state-required minimum insurance) for payment of any medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses suffered as a result of that accident. PIP is required to cover 80 percent of a motorist’s medical expenses and 60 percent of any lost wages up to the total cap of $10,000. Only when the individual’s damages exceed the required $10,000 amount in PIP coverage is he or she then free to seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurer, as well as from the negligent driver him or herself, of any remaining damages above that $10,000 amount.
What Does This Mean in Practical Terms for a Florida Motor Vehicle Accident Victim?
Therefore, if you are in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, regardless of how the accident occurred, it is important to always call your own insurer to report the accident because a certain portion of your damages will be covered by your own insurance even if another motorist is ultimately determined to be at fault in causing the accident. You must seek benefits under your own PIP coverage before filing a claim, and perhaps eventually a lawsuit, against the other driver and his or her insurer.
Is It Likely That My Damages in a Florida Motor Vehicle Accident Will Exceed $10,000?
Believe it or not, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes.” Ten thousand dollars is not a large amount of money when you consider all the unfortunate side effects that can occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Apart from often expensive medical treatment that may be necessitated as a result of your injuries, there is also the time that you may need to miss from work to heal from your injuries, or even work that you need to miss because your car is in for repairs and you have no way to get to work. Then there are repairs to your vehicle that can often run into the thousands of dollars. In addition, you are entitled under Florida law to be compensated for your pain and suffering as a result of your injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. All these things quickly add up and can result in a motor vehicle accident victim suffering damages far in excess of $10,000.
Contact the Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley
If you are in the unfortunate situation of having been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, you likely are confused as to whose insurance will cover what and who to contact to be properly compensated for your injuries, damages, and other losses as a result of the accident. This is perfectly natural, as Florida’s motor vehicle accident insurance scheme is far from clear to those who do not deal with it daily like we do. However, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing those who have been injured in a variety of motor vehicle accidents, and we know the process of submitting insurance claims, whose insurance pays for what, and other details inside and out. Therefore, if you or a loved one have been involved in an accident in Florida and have questions regarding whose insurance will pay for what and which insurer to file a claim with, please call us today for a free consultation at (877) 694-6079 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss all of your questions.