When it comes to car accidents, the State of Florida follows “no-fault” laws. What exactly does this mean?
In its most basic terms it means when it comes to filing your car accident injury claims, the question of “who is at fault?” is largely irrelevant. This can have significant impact in how your insurance claim process goes and how much money you can receive from injuries.
In the following article, we'll explain the main concepts you need to know in order to protect yourself while driving in Florida.
Specifically we'll explain…
In the 1970's many states in the U.S. began adopting “no-fault” insurance laws. At the most basic level this simply means that after an accident you will file a claim with your own insurance carrier regardless of who caused the accident. Some states limit what you can claim, others throw the doors wide open.
Supporters of no-fault insurance believe it makes resolving claims simpler and keeps premiums low by limiting liability.
Opponents like to cite a study by the University of Pennsylvania  that concludes no-fault laws have increased drunk driving, the average speed of crashes, and overall fatality rates.
Florida law states that all drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP). Sometimes the phrases “PIP” and “no-fault” claim are used interchangeably.
If you (or someone in your car) are injured in an accident your PIP coverage will kick in and pay for medical expenses, and some other damages such as lost wages (up to policy limits).
In Florida, there is (generally) no decision-making process on who to pursue after a car accident. It's a simple one-to-one transaction between you and your insurance company.
And because of this, you are required to cooperate with your insurance company to a higher degree than you otherwise might (for example, in deciding whether or not to give a recorded statement).
By comparison in a “fault” state drivers have to determine whether to pursue the other party (or their insurance company) directly or file through their carrier and let the insurance companies hash it out.
One nice thing about personal injury protection is that it offers coverage that applies to many different situations. It covers you if you are a passenger in another car, are a pedestrian or riding a bicycle (given that a motor vehicle is involved).
In addition, PIP coverage applies to :
In the case of an accident with four people in a vehicle, each individual's PIP coverage will take care of each person. The same holds true for anyone driving your car, as long as they have your permission.
It's also good to be aware what's not covered under PIP. In most PIP policies you are not going to find coverage for:
Insurance contracts and policies are loaded with exceptions and exemptions. Therefore it comes as little surprise that Florida's no-fault laws have some notable exceptions.
The most important one is that in some circumstances you are allowed to directly bring a claim (or sue) against another party. The first scenario where this is allowed is if you (or a passenger) have suffered a permanent or severely debilitating injury.
If you meet the legal criteria for “severe or permanent”, no-fault protections are waived and you can seek medical damages, lost wages, and pain and suffering from an at-fault party.
Another exception scenario is if the policy limit has been exceeded. In this case, a person can legally claim damages against an at-fault party for the costs that are above policy limits.
Now that we've covered how no-fault insurance functions, we're still left with the question of how much and what types of coverage is required?
There are two primary requirements:
A lot of states also includes Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) as a requirement. BIL covers the injuries of others if you're at-fault and one of the exception scenarios arises. In Florida, BIL is not a requirement, but it might be good to have anyway.
All insurances policies must be purchased from an individual or company with a current license. Driving without insurance in Florida is illegal and can result in having your driver's license suspended.
Understanding insurance laws and regulations can be confusing (and, let's be honest a bit dry). But part of being a responsible driver is understanding the legal parameters you're operating under. And when it comes to accidents you'll want to understand the basics.
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