When you bought your Florida car insurance policy you may not have known that Florida is one of 12 states with no-fault insurance laws on the books. No-fault auto insurance laws require every driver to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who may have been at fault. For the no-fault system to function properly, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP), which is why you were required to purchase PIP when you bought your insurance policy.
Why Florida is a no-fault state
The no-fault system, which came into effect in many states in the early 1970s, was intended to lower the cost of auto insurance by taking small claims out of the courts. Each insurance company compensates its own policyholders (the first party) for the cost of minor injuries, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Alas, if you’ve lived in Florida for some time you know that auto insurance here ain’t cheap. In fact, the Sunshine State is one of the most expensive auto insurance states in the nation, with drivers paying an average of $2,364 annually for full coverage and $1,101 annually for minimum coverage auto insurance.
We’ll refrain from opining on whether Florida’s no-fault law is responsible for the high cost of insurance, and move on to one of the main questions this article seeks to answer:
What happens when you get in a serious accident in a no-fault state?
Generally speaking, the standard coverage afforded by PIP is $10,000. That $10,000 is supposed to compensate an injured driver or passenger for lost income, medical bills, medication, hospitalization costs, and surgeries. When you think about it, these costs can easily snowball for a person who has sustained serious injuries, and $10,000 isn’t all that much money, given the high cost of health care in this country. Additionally, if you’re anything like us you might object on principle to your insurance company footing the bill when you were not at fault. After all, you may have suffered pain and anguish, even trauma, as a result of your accident, for which you have every right to be compensated and made whole again.
If you’ve been in a serious injury and you don’t think your insurance policy’s PIP coverage is going to cut it, or you have already exhausted your coverage, you have options. One of your options is pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Florida’s no-fault laws put restrictions on lawsuits, but there are exceptions.
Exceptions to Florida’s no-fault law allowing injured parties to sue the driver at fault
There are two circumstances that allow you to bring a lawsuit against the insurance company and the driver who caused your accident.
- You have sustained a permanent injury as a result of the accident. Permanent injuries include permanent loss of an important bodily function, scarring and disfigurement, or another permanent injury “within a reasonable degree of medical probability.” It goes without saying that if a loved one died as a result of an automobile crash you have the right to sue.
- If your medical bills surpass the $10,000 afforded by your PIP coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover your losses
No-fault does not mean no-accountability for reckless drivers. Through a personal injury lawsuit, victims of auto accidents in Florida can recover compensation for medical expenses, including hospitalization costs, surgeries, physical therapy and mobility devices; lost income; pain and emotional anguish; trauma; and disability.
Get Help from a Tampa Car Accident Attorney
You don’t have to deal with the insurance companies alone. An experienced Tampa car accident attorney can you navigate both the insurance claims process and personal injury litigation. A personal injury lawsuit allows you to claim necessary compensation to fully recover from your injuries without facing policy restrictions from insurance companies. Through these actions, Florida residents severely injured by reckless or negligent drivers can ease the financial strain brought on by an accident and experience a full recovery. Call Drake Law at 813-509-2426 today or fill out a quick form to schedule a free consultation.