“No-fault state” is an expression you have likely heard if you are a licensed driver in Florida. But do you know what the term means? How does it affect you if you’re in a car accident? If you’re involved in a car accident, how can no one be at fault? As a Florida driver, it is important to understand what “no-fault” insurance means. 

What is no-fault insurance?

Florida is only one of twelve states that have a form of no-fault insurance law. If injured in a car accident, drivers and their passengers submit their claims to the insurance company covering their personal vehicle. The only time you file a claim under another person’s auto insurance is when you do not carry your own policy. Submitting a claim allows you to receive compensation for your injury without filing a lawsuit. 

No-fault benefits
can include payment of medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket injury-related expenses regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. 

What does no-fault mean in Florida?

All drivers in the state of Florida carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage as required by law. The coverage is applied if you damage someone else's vehicle or property in an accident. PIP insurance covers all injuries to you, regardless of who was at-fault for the accident. It can also cover you for workdays missed or compensation for lost wages due to the injury. 

Under PIP, you can claim the following benefits::

  • Medical care and treatment 
  • Ambulance
  • X-rays  
  • Hospital stays
  • Physical and rehabilitation therapy 
  • Nursing or in-home care services 
  • Prescription medications
  • Prosthetic devices

However, PIP only pays 80% of medical expenses related to the accident and 60% of lost wages up to the policy limit of $10,000. To further protect yourself, you can purchase coverage above the $10,000 minimum required by law. You must see a medical provider within 14 days after your accident to claim your PIP benefits, or you waive your rights to these benefits.

How does the no-fault law affect accidents?

Florida’s no-fault law does not compensate you for any pain and suffering as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. Despite these regulations, our right to sue another party to recover damages beyond that PIP payments is limited by Florida law. However, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party if one of the following circumstances occurred as a result of your accident: 

  • Death 
  • Permanent or significant loss of a vital bodily function 
  • Permanent or significant scarring 
  • Permanent injury (based on examination by a medical professional)

How can I legally protect myself?

By documenting as much as you can about the accident, you can protect your right to sue in Florida (and other no-fault states) The information gathered after an accident should include but is not limited to:

  • Names, drivers license numbers, and contact information for all drivers 
  • Insurance company information for all drivers and vehicles
  • Year, make, model, color, and vehicle identification number of all vehicles involved
  • Photos of the accident scene as well as the location of all vehicles involved
  • Names and contact information of all accident witnesses to the accident, including passengers of the vehicles 
  • Any information or documentation gathered after the accident that can help your attorney evaluate your options for compensation

Accidents happen, and when they do, you and your family will have questions about your rights and the impact on your life. The attorneys at Doran, Beam & Farrell understand your concerns and are ready to answer any question or address concerns that you may have about your claim. To schedule a FREE consultation, call us at (727) 846-1000 or complete our online contact form.


Sources:
https://floridaphysicalmedicine.com/florida-no-fault-state/ 

https://www.coverage.com/insurance/auto/what-does-a-no-fault-state-mean-for-auto-insurance/ 

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-no-fault-car-insurance.html