How Does Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Rule Work?
If you’re looking this up, you’re likely already aware that Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state – but what does that really mean? In its most basic terms, no-fault insurance means that if you are in an accident with another driver, you’ll each individually file with your own insurance, regardless of whose fault the accident was. This differs from other states, where the at-fault driver’s insurance is potentially liable for covering all the damage. For this reason, state law requires all Florida motorists to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (known as “PIP” coverage). PIP is intended to cover medical bills and lost wages in the event you are in an accident and applies regardless of fault.
Can I Sue an At-Fault Driver After a No-Fault Accident?
Yes, possibly. The no-fault statute isn’t saying that neither driver is at fault; rather, it’s saying fault is irrelevant for the purpose of filing insurance claims, since both drivers’ will file individually with their respective PIP regardless. However, legally, fault still exists, and there are two exceptions to the at-fault statute that allow you to privately sue the driver who was responsible for the collision.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Statute:
- Permanent Injury. If a person suffers permanent injury as a result of the car accident, they may sue the at-fault driver for damages. Under Florida law, a permanent injury is defined as (i) a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (ii) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; (iii) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (iv) death.
- Non-permanent injuries cause more than $10,000 in medical expenses. If the injuries do not qualify as permanent under Florida law, you may still be able to sue if the cost of caring for your non-permanent injuries exceeded your $10,000 PIP coverage.
Why Are These Exceptions Important?
These exceptions give drivers who have been seriously injured or financially damaged as a result of another driver’s negligence to seek justice and financial wholeness. If a driver suffers a permanent injury, as defined above, then the no-fault law does not apply, and the driver may sue the at-fault motorist for medical bills and lost wages, as well as for pain, suffering, and other intangible damages suffered as a result of the accident. A driver who has suffered non-permanent injuries as per the second exception, can sue to recover the cost of medical bills and lost wages not covered by their PIP insurance.
Talk to an Experienced Florida Auto Accident Attorney:
Car accidents are a stressful experience and can have life-changing consequences. If you or someone you know was recently injured in a car accident, it can be overwhelming trying to understand the laws and if recourse is available—especially while you’re likely still processing the stress and trauma of the accident. Contact the attorneys at Roman & Roman to assess your unique circumstances and determine if moving forward with a lawsuit is the best option for you. With over 100 years of shared experience, and locations in Clearwater, Hudson, and Tampa, you can trust that the lawyers at Roman & Roman know Florida law and are ready to advocate for you. Call 877-767-1032 to schedule your free consultation today.