Is Florida a No-Fault State?

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Florida is a no-fault state in terms of auto insurance and collision recovery. After a car accident in Florida, victims must navigate the insurance system to obtain compensation for their medical bills and property damages. Florida is one of just 12 states that abides by a no-fault auto insurance system. This means crash victims will seek recovery from their own insurers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. The more you know about Florida’s auto insurance laws, the easier the process will be for you after a harmful collision.

How Does the No-Fault System Work?

Like most states, every driver in Florida must carry auto insurance. Insurance policies must contain at least the minimum amounts of required insurance for the state: $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability. When an accident occurs, each driver will seek initial recovery for damages from his/her own policy. There is no need to prove the other driver’s fault or even get the other driver’s insurance information to receive benefits in Florida. As long as you have coverage and file on time, you will most likely recover.

Once you file your claim, your insurance company will review your case and issue a settlement check for an amount it believes appropriate. For the most part, your personal injury insurance will give you benefits in the amount of 80% of your medical bills and 60% of wages you lost from missing time at work after a car accident. You will have to pay a deductible that will depend on your type of coverage. The maximum deductible is $1,000. Discuss your exact policy with an insurance company for more specific information.

Most insurance companies have claim filing requirements for drivers to qualify for coverage. For example, some mandate that claimants call and report the collision within 24 hours. Always contact your insurance company and report the crash as soon as possible. You will need to give details such as where you were, how fast you were traveling, how the collision occurred, and whether any property damage or personal injuries occurred. Be honest with your insurance agent during the claims process.

Can You File a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver?

A no-fault auto insurance system doesn’t mean victims can’t hold a negligent driver responsible for the injuries he/she caused. Florida Statute Section 627.737(2) states that drivers may file lawsuits against other drivers for car accidents if the victim suffered a permanent injury. The legal definition of a permanent injury in Florida is one that causes significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, a permanent injury according to medical probability, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.

If you or a loved one’s injuries fall under these stipulations, you may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. A personal injury lawsuit can take longer than a car insurance settlement, but claimants generally receive larger compensation awards. A personal injury lawsuit could result in compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost enjoyment of life, and other damages that an insurance policy won’t cover. Contact an attorney if you’re not sure whether your injuries qualify as permanent.

If your car accident damages amount to more than your $10,000 in available coverage, you also have the right to file a claim for your remaining costs. The other driver’s insurance company may have to pay what’s left over if you can prove that the other driver negligently or recklessly caused your accident. Other circumstances in which you may have grounds for a lawsuit are hit-and-run accidents, uninsured/underinsured motorist accidents, and crime-related crashes such as driving under the influence (DUI) accidents.