Understanding Florida's No-Fault Law


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Understanding Florida's No-Fault Law

Perhaps more than any other industry, insurance companies lack transparency when it comes to informing their customers of the products they sell. For most Floridians, understanding the type, level, and extent of their coverage is often gleaned in the event of an accident.

The experienced car accident attorneys at the Shiner Law Group can dispel the complexity surrounding Florida’s no-fault law and help guide you through the claims process to secure a broad range of damages. For over 15 years, we have successfully represented thousands of car accident victims throughout Florida’s communities, recovering millions of dollars, because we are committed to ensuring that you receive the maximum financial compensation in order to not only get your life back, but to make a swift and full recovery.

Insurance companies are motivated by profits and will pursue every tactical advantage to mitigate or fully avoid financial liability. Having a Shiner Law Group attorney by your side means that we are prepared to take your case to court if the other side is unwilling to offer what you deserve. In fact, studies have shown that accident victims are usually able to recover three times more money when they are represented by an attorney.

What Exactly is the “No-Fault” Motor Vehicle Law in Florida?

In short, this law means that drivers have to have Personal Injury Protection coverage as part of their auto insurance. The reason for this is that the No-Fault insurance they get will pay for bills up to a minimum of $10,000. The official name for this is (PIP) Personal Injury Protection.

When Did This Start?

Florida was the second state to go with this system starting in 1971. That was when the Florida Legislature made an agreement with local insurance companies in Florida. This agreement covers any insured person who has been in a car accident up to $10,000, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.

“No-Fault” Initial Details and Exceptions

It’s important to note that “no-fault” doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have claims made against you for causing injuries in a car accident. It just means that any Florida driver has to file a report with their insurance companies to make a claim, fault aside.

PIP doesn’t cover everything, but it does cover:

  • 80% covers medical bills for injuries sustained in an accident
  • 80% of prescription medication from accident
  • 60% covers lost or reduced income
  • Travel to and from any medical facility

10 / 20 / 10

The rule in Florida is summarized as 10/20/10. In other words, someone with insurance who is injured in a car accident would get $10,000 of bodily injury coverage, with $20,000 being the maximum per accident as well as $10,000 of coverage for property damage per accident.

The PIP also includes a benefit of $5000 for a death. So, the insured person’s beneficiaries would receive this money if the insured person should die in the accident as a result of related injuries.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. An example has to do with a permanent injury. So, for example, you can file a claim directly against another driver deemed responsible for causing the accident if they caused you an injury that is deemed “permanent.”

The definition for this is an injury where you have a “significant loss” in terms of functionality in your body, including a significant chance that it will never go away as deemed by medical experts. This also applies to disfigurement or permanent scars. It also applies if the insured person died and the family wishes to pursue a claim.

In the case where there is a permanent injury sustained as defined above, then you can actually make a claim against a driver who is deemed to have been at fault. At this point, you can make a claim against them for almost any kind of damages including costs connected to rehabilitating from their injury, lost income, medical bills, and just charges to compensate for their pain and suffering. You could seek restitution for any number of other damages that fit the situation as well.

If the cost of the medical bills or income loss gets above $10,000, this is another possible exception to the no-fault system, depending specifically on the exact situation related to the accident, yourself, and other motorists.

Understanding Gaps

It’s worth reiterating that the No-Fault coverage does not cover everything when it comes to bills from an accident. You still have to worry about that extra 20% leftover from medical bills from injuries due to the accident since the minimum only covers 80%. Plus, there’s the 40% you have to worry about when it comes to lost wages or other income that the injured driver suffers due to their injuries. Depending on how extensive those injuries are, this can be a substantial amount of money.

The point is that it’s important to keep this in mind if you are looking for full coverage. Sometimes it helps to spend a bit extra to make sure that you are fully covered for everything. You don’t have to stay with just the minimums if you don’t want to do so. You can also find other ways to make sure you are fully covered, and if you want to understand what you bought and how it affects your current situation, it also helps to talk to a lawyer. This is especially the case when it comes to gaps.

Car Repairs

When it comes specifically to car repairs, these are covered under the PIP insurance associated with No-Fault laws. One of the advantages here is that you don’t have to fight over liability before you start getting payments in the mail.

This is a considerable advantage given the fact that you may need your car to work sooner rather than later, to properly carry you to work so that you can keep earning an income. The help from the plan could cover both, quickly. It doesn’t help your efforts to get your life back in order if you have to wait to see how much money you’re going to get from the insurance company to cover car repairs and medical bills. The No-Fault approach means that this will be unnecessary.

The downside, of course, is the gaps in coverage. Many people believe that it’s worth the tradeoff though, considering how stressful dealing with the delays while the insurance companies work out fault.

Deductibles

There’s also the fact that there’s likely a deductible on your account, so you will need to keep that in mind when you’re figuring out your final costs. This amount can vary widely depending on your insurance specifics. In general, it tends to range between $250 and $2500 depending. Also, this can, of course, vary widely if there are any special circumstances regarding your deductibles.

Parties with Potential Liability

There are various situations where there could be different parties who have liability for aiding you in your car repairs. In other words, depending on your situation, there could be other ways that you could potentially pay for your car repairs together with a No-Fault type policy. You have to carry $10,000 in property damage coverage as part of the law in Florida.

However, there are some situations where you could go over the cap from the at-fault party’s limit through their insurance company. These situations often depend on a third party.

For example, if the driver was currently at work during the accident, and there was some neglect on their part, there’s always the possibility that you could get additional funds through that company. Additionally, there are situations where there were no road signs to warn the drivers about unsafe conditions, so public organizations could be liable and it may be possible to get the additional funds from there as well.

Example Coverage

It’s required for you to get Personal Injury Protection, or “No-Fault Coverage” as part of your insurance, but you could certainly increase that amount if you prefer.

Additionally, it’s also worth noting how all of this would work in combination. For example, if a driver has basic PIP, which is required in Florida, with $5000 in coverage for Medical Payments, then this would kick in to handle 80% of the injured person’s medical bills going up as high as $10,000. This takes priority over anything else and pays out first.

Then, the insured driver’s Medical Payment would handle the rest of it up to $5000. So, for example, if an insured driver needed a lot more than that to pay medical expenses, then the first $15,000 would come from his policies.

After that point, the at-fault driver would have his policy handle up to $10,000 more with the No-fault policy in Florida, assuming that the at-fault driver is carrying the legal minimums. You can see here just how advantageous this can be because, without a No-Fault policy, the at-fault driver would have to pay that $10,000 himself. This means in a bill of $25,000, the at-fault driver would have it all paid through insurance.

From Accident to Filing a Claim

In general, it’s important to be cautious when making a claim in any circumstance, so that’s no exception when it comes to No-Fault insurance either. Considering the different factors at play, starting with the No-Fault coverage and going on from there regarding potential permanent injuries or deaths, you’re going to want legal help in making the claim. You’re also definitely going to want to attempt to move forward with everything quickly since the bill from the damages caused by the accident can pile up.

Many lawyers that deal in this field recommend writing down details of the accident as soon as you’re safe and have received medical care afterward so they stay fresh in your mind. That way, you’ll be ready to speak with someone well-versed in the No-Fault rules.

Summing Up

The No-Fault Law in Florida means that all motorists are covered against personal injury damages of up to $10,000 under the minimums required in the state of Florida. If you need help understanding any of the intricacies of this law, or how they pertain to a particular situation following an accident, it’s imperative that you talk to a car accident attorney as soon as that is feasible.

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