Florida No-Fault Policy and Your Car Accident Claim
If you were injured in an auto accident and you believe that the other party is at fault, then it may seem obvious to you that the person at fault should be financially responsible for your medical bills and damages. And, that’s how it works in most states in the country. In Florida, however, the rules are different.
Florida is a so-called no-fault insurance state. In this post, we discuss what that means, and how it affects your rights to compensation for injuries you sustain in a car accident here, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
Florida: A No-Fault Auto Insurance State
Florida is one of only a handful of states in the country that is has a no-fault insurance law. When drivers are injured in an auto accident in Florida, both parties turn to their own auto insurance for compensation regardless of who is at fault. All Florida drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance (PIP). The idea behind no-fault insurance laws is that they help to speed up the process of paying care for both parties in an accident since neither party’s insurance company has to argue over who was at fault. In practice, that is not always the case, and the no-fault law has been criticized for leading to widespread fraud higher insurance rates for all drivers.
How No-Fault Insurance Works
If you were injured in a car accident in Florida, you will have to file a claim against your own PIP insurance for injuries and lost wages valued at up to $10,000 regardless of who is at fault. Unfortunately, there are limitations to personal injury protection insurance coverage. PIP policies are only required to cover 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages up to $10,000. It is also important to remember that in order for PIP insurance to cover any medical bills resulting from your accident, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident. Failing to seek prompt medical care could not only prevent you from receiving coverage under your PIP policy, but it may also prevent other insurance from covering your medical costs.
Will Your Insurance Rates Go Up After Car Accident Claim?
Even though you will have to file a claim against your own PIP insurance for your first $10,000 worth of damages after being in an accident, the good news is your insurance rates will not go up. Florida law prohibits insurance companies from raising premiums when customers file a claim against their PIP insurance. Your rates would only go up if you are found to be substantially at fault for the accident and the other driver made a claim against your insurance for damages above $10,000.
Can You Sue The Other Driver in a Car Accident Claim?
If you believe that the other party is at fault, then you may be wondering if you have the ability to sue them for compensation for medical bills and lost wages. The answer is yes, but only in some cases. Here is an overview of what you need to know about your ability to sue for injuries received and wages lost with a car accident injury claim.
- Injuries with damages less than $10,000: By design, under Florida’s no-fault law you cannot usually sue the other driver to compensate you for your losses not covered by your PIP insurance if the damages are valued at less than $10,000. The only exception to this rule is if you sustained injuries that are deemed to be permanent. For an injury to be considered permanent it has to cause significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or it has to result in the permanent loss of important bodily functions. If your injuries are determined to be considered permanent, you would then have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver for your injuries regardless of the value of your medical bills.
- Injuries with damages more than $10,000 (or your PIP Policy’s maximum benefit): Fortunately, even though Florida is a no-fault state you are still allowed to take legal action against the other driver if your medical costs exceed the limits of your PIP insurance policy. In that event, you may have the ability to bring suit against the other driver for your remaining bills, for any lost wages, and for any pain and suffering your injuries have caused. However, when you attempt to sue the other driver for your losses, you will not only have to prove that they were at fault for the accident, but you will also have to contend with Florida’s comparative fault laws.
Comparative Fault and Car Accident Claims
When determining fault after being involved in an auto accident in Florida, you will have to deal with the state’s comparative fault laws. Comparative fault laws make it possible for both drivers to share blame in an auto accident. This means that even if a court determines that the other driver was primarily responsible for causing your accident, you may still be found partially responsible for the accident. In that case, any damages you recovered would be reduced by the percentage of your own fault. For example, if the other driver is found to be 90 percent at fault, and you were found to be 10 percent at fault, you would be entitled to recover only 90 percent of your total damages.
Call the Dolman Law Group After an Accident Where the Other Driver Is at Fault
After an auto accident in Clearwater, consider contacting the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group. If you aren’t sure if you need to hire a car accident lawyer, check out our article asking leading attorney when someone needs to hire a lawyer.
Depending on the monetary damages your injury has caused, and the severity of your injury, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Retaining an experienced auto accident attorney can help to ensure your rights are protected and you have the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve. Contact the Dolman Law Group at (727) 451-6900 to schedule a free consultation and learn about how we might be able to help.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765