The 50 US states and the District of Columbia apply their own law to auto accident compensation. The two predominant insurance systems that these jurisdictions choose from are “at-fault” and “no-fault.” Florida is a no-fault state. Even so, an injured party in Florida can seek fault-based compensation under certain circumstances.
Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System
You’ve just been hurt in a car accident. Was the accident your fault? In most cases, it doesn’t matter, at least if the accident happened in Florida.
Florida law applies certain insurance requirements to everyone with a car that is registered in the state. These requirements are:
- $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance; and
- $10,000 in Property Damage Liability insurance (PDL).
Note that PDL insurance is not part of Florida’s “no-fault” system.
How Florida PIP Insurance Works
Florida PIP insurance is no-fault. In most cases, you can obtain compensation for your injuries even if the accident was your fault (because you were negligent, for example). It won’t cover you for an intentional act, such as if you rammed someone in a road rage incident.
What PIP covers
In Florida, PIP covers:
- 80% of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses.
- 60% of your lost earnings.
- Up to $5,000 for funeral and burial expenses if you die in an auto accident.
The coverage limit is $10,000; however, funeral and burial benefits are not included within this limit.
Who PIP covers
Florida PIP insurance covers the following injured parties:
- Your relatives, if they live with you;
- Any passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident;
- Any pedestrian you hit;
- Anyone driving your car, as long as they do so with your permission.
Some of these people might have their own PIP insurance, which they should look to first.
When PIP covers you
PIP covers you when:
- You’re driving your own car;
- You’re driving someone else’s car with their permission;
- You are a passenger in someone else’s car;
- You are injured in a pedestrian accident.
If PIP is not enough, you might look to your health insurance to pay some of your medical bills.
At-Fault Insurance in Florida: If Your Injuries Are “Serious”
In truth, $10,000 isn’t a lot of money for a hospital. Consequently, you might need more than this if you suffer a serious injury. Florida provides a way for you to escape the restrictive no-fault system.
Compensation Outside of the Florida No-Fault System
If your injuries are “serious” under Florida law, you can file a personal injury lawsuit or a third-party insurance claim. In this way, you can seek full personal injury damages from the defendant. This compensation might include “pain and suffering” and other forms of non-economic damages. Non-economic damages often amount to most of the value of the claim.
Florida law defines a “serious” injury as
- Permanent loss of a major bodily function;
- A permanent injury;
- Major scarring or disfigurement; or
If someone dies in an accident, the personal representative (executor) of their probate estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages.
Remember that property damage is never covered under Florida’s no-fault system. Even if you have to rely on PIP to cover your injuries, you can always file a claim against the other driver’s PDL policy (or file a lawsuit) to pay for damage to your car.
The Auto Liability Insurance Trap
Unfortunately, Florida does not require its drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance. This means that even if you suffer a serious injury and prove that the accident was the other driver’s fault, the other driver might lack the funds to pay your claim.
How At-Fault Insurance Works in Most States
Only about a dozen states apply a no-fault system. The rest of the states apply an “at-fault” system. Under an “at-fault” system, all injuries are treated the same way that Florida treats “serious” injuries. That means you can immediately file a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance carrier or file a lawsuit in court. Keep this in mind if you get into an accident in an “at-fault” state such as Georgia.
Do You Need a Jacksonville Car Accident Lawyer in Your Corner?
If your injuries are minor or if you suffered only property damage, it’s possible you don’t need a lawyer. However, if your accident is more serious, there is a good chance you’ll benefit from hiring an attorney.
When in doubt, Contact our law office or call (904) 396-1100 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Jacksonville car accident lawyer from Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers. Personal injury lawyers typically work for free if they lose because they work on a contingency fee basis. So if the lawyer offers to take your case, you can be sure they believe they can win it.