Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System Explained
For those who are new to the state of Florida, or those who have just received their drivers’ licenses, it may be a bit confusing that most of the time, if you are involved in an auto accident in Florida, you are not allowed to sue the other driver for their negligence even if they were to admit fault. The reason for this is that Florida follows what is called a no-fault system of auto insurance – instead of filing suit, injured people are expected to tap into insurance coverage, though you still may need an attorney’s assistance to get through the process.
There are two main systems used for auto insurance in the United States, referred to as fault and no-fault. Florida uses a no-fault system, which means that instead of the person who is allegedly at fault for an accident being on the proverbial hook for both parties’ damages, each driver is required to maintain insurance coverage, which they can then use to ensure their medical bills are paid after a crash. The state requires at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) for every driver, though it is possible to carry more.
That said, those who are new to driving in Florida often experience an unpleasant surprise if they are unfortunate enough to get in a car accident – by law, PIP coverage is required to cover only 80 percent of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary care up to your policy amount. While this may not sound like much of a gap, that remaining 20 percent can add up, putting you in an awkward position while you are still in need of treatment. Generally, your health insurance policy will cover bills that accrue after your PIP coverage has been exhausted, but that does mean that you will likely wind up paying out of pocket at some point.
Sometimes You Can Sue
While the majority of auto accident claims will be managed under Florida’s no-fault system, it is possible to file suit against a driver you believe to have been negligent if you have sustained injuries serious enough to exceed $10,000 in medical bills. The statute specifically mentions “significant or permanent” loss or a bodily function or a limb, or permanent injury “within a reasonable degree of medical probability.” If you have been so unfortunate as to be involved in such a serious crash, you can file suit against the driver as if in an ordinary negligence case.
Filing suit should be a last resort, just because insurance companies have very deep pockets and can prolong legal proceedings longer than most injured plaintiffs. However, it is possible to reach a settlement with the insurance company should you have the right attorney on your side. Most insurers are looking at their bottom line first and foremost, but an experienced attorney can help to work out a solution that gets you the compensation and help you require.
Contact A Tampa Auto Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in an accident with another vehicle, it is important to be aware of how best to protect your interests while you focus on recovery. The Tampa car accident attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can help you get through the process of filing claims and handling legal issues while you try and get your life back to normal. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.