Auto Accident Claims In A No-Fault State
Most of the time, when someone is in a car accident and is injured, they will file a lawsuit against the other driver to seek compensation for any injuries they suffered. However, it is not so simple in Florida, because Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that most of the time, auto accident claims are handled by insurance companies. While there are exceptions to this rule, it can be confusing for the average person, who after an auto accident just wants to be able to afford their medical bills. Understanding your options matters.
No-Fault Is Allegedly More Efficient
Florida is one of twelve U.S. states which currently has a no-fault system in place – its original law was passed in the 1970s and sunset in 2007, but a new one was passed the following year. The state’s no-fault law specifically exempts the overwhelming majority of drivers from tort liability (with exceptions). In the place of lawsuits and jury awards, drivers in Florida are required to carry at least $10,000 worth of personal injury protection insurance, as well as $10,000 worth of property damage liability insurance in order to lawfully drive a vehicle in the state. Bodily injury liability insurance is also recommended, but not required.
Allegedly, a no-fault system is more efficient and saves time for all involved because no fault must be determined, and the courts are not tied up for months per case. However, the reality is that very often, fraud rises since malingerers are more convinced they will succeed at being paid. Florida has dealt with a rise in fraud, and accordingly, a significant rise in insurance rates, since the reinstatement of no-fault insurance in 2008. This can put some people in delicate positions, with insurers skeptical and the cost of medical care going up.
Exceptions To No-Fault Law
The Florida no-fault system can seem quite daunting to many drivers, especially if you have been involved in an accident and been seriously injured. You may have real concerns about whether or not your insurance will cover all your bills, or leave you with significant sums owing. However, if you are involved in such a serious crash, and you suffer a permanent injury, scarring, disfigurement, or the “significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function,” Florida’s law does allow you to bring suit against the person who caused your accident.
If you do bring suit, however, be advised that fault issues may come into play at that point. You will have to prove that the defendant driver breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, which every motorist on the road shares. You will also have to show that the harm you suffered is directly because of that person’s actions, or failure to act, with no other supervening cause.
Can A Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
When you are in an accident, all you want to do is rest and recuperate. Dealing with your insurance company is the last thing you want to focus on. A Tampa auto accident lawyer can help you negotiate your way through both dealing with your insurer and potentially bringing a suit against the driver who caused your injuries. The experienced attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are happy to sit down with you and try to answer questions about your case. Call us today for a free consultation.