Florida is just one of 12 states that follow no-fault insurance laws. These rather unpopular laws mandate that car accident victims must seek damage recovery through their own insurers regardless of who was at fault for the crash. It also makes it difficult to bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver for bodily injury or property damage outside of the no-fault system. As someone living in or visiting Florida, it’s important to understand the ramifications Florida’s no-fault system could have a car accident claim. Otherwise, you could find yourself struggling with your claim or even facing a lawsuit against you. If you were the victim of a car accident in Broward County, contact a Fort Lauderdale auto accident attorney to discuss what remedies may be available to you. (954) 568-3636
Drivers can find the text of the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law in Section 627.7407 of the Florida Statutes. The statute requires all Florida drivers (beginning on January 1, 2008) to maintain at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). PIP insurance will protect the policyholder by covering injury-related expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault. PIP insurance will also cover the loss of consortium and funeral expenses in the event of wrongful death. PDL insurance covers damages you caused to another person’s vehicle or property.
No-fault car insurance laws have pros and cons. On one hand, there is no need for injured victims to prove the other driver’s fault to collect damage recovery. It also saves the at-fault driver from having to pay for losses out of pocket. Even if the victim caused the accident, he or she can expect financial coverage from his/her own insurance company. No-fault laws also help reduce the traffic in Florida’s courthouses, as it’s much harder to file a lawsuit against a driver in pursuit of additional recovery.
On the other hand, no-fault insurance states tend to have much higher premiums than fault states. Florida is one of the top ten most expensive states for vehicle insurance in the country, along with fellow no-fault states Michigan and Delaware. No-fault insurance states also open the door to insurance fraud, as drivers can cause their own accidents and then obtain payment from a PIP insurance payout. Finally, many policyholders find no-fault insurance laws redundant since most health insurance plans would already cover personal injuries.
The main thing to know about living in a no-fault state like Florida is that your own vehicle insurance policy is your primary source of financial recovery after a car accident. After a crash, regardless of who was at fault, call your insurance company and report what happened. The company will investigate the crash and offer coverage in the form of a settlement if it accepts your claim. There is no need for you to prove that you weren’t at fault for the crash to receive coverage, but you might want to do so to reduce the chances of your premium increase.
Most insurance companies in Florida (with the notable exception of State Farm) will increase your insurance premium after an accident regardless of whether it was your fault or not. If you were at fault for the accident, there is a chance that the other driver could choose to file a lawsuit against you for additional damages. In Florida, someone could bring a suit against you after a crash if you were at fault and the crash caused “serious bodily injury.” In general, serious injuries are those with permanent effects, scarring, or disability. In the event that another driver chooses to file a claim against you, retain an attorney for assistance. If you were the victim of the accident and would like to file a claim against another driver, contact Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer David Fuchs.