What Florida’s No-Fault Car Accident Laws Mean for You

February 29, 2024

Florida is one of only 12 “no-fault” states when it comes to car accident liability. While there were efforts to change this a couple of years ago, the fact remains that pursuing car accident claims in Florida is quite different from the majority of other states. Of course, the no-fault system presents both advantages and disadvantages to accident victims, but it is important to understand how it will impact your case if you need to pursue a claim. If you have been injured in a car accident, an experienced car accident attorney can explain how the process works and what you can expect. 

How Car Accident Cases Are Handled in At-Fault States 

Understanding how car accident claims in at-fault states will illustrate what makes Florida’s car accident laws unique. In an at-fault state, every driver is liable to any other driver that they injure as a result of their negligence. As a result, an accident victim who is injured by another driver’s negligence must pursue a claim against the other driver in order to recover compensation for their losses. The challenge is that they must prove that the other driver was at fault in causing the accident in order for their claim to be successful. This can lead to seemingly unfair results if the victim cannot prove the other driver was negligent. 

How Car Accident Cases Are Handled in No-Fault States

In no-fault states such as Florida, the injured parties do not need to prove that the other driver was at fault in causing the accident in order to recover compensation. Instead, the injured parties pursue claims against their own insurance. The advantage of a no-fault system is that accident victims can get compensated for their injuries and other losses without proving fault. In addition, they can get the compensation they need more quickly than if they had to go through the legal process. This can be particularly helpful if the other driver does not have insurance. Many people argue that it also results in lower insurance premiums for residents of no-fault states.   

Unfortunately, insurance companies in no-fault states can be just as difficult to deal with as in at-fault states. In addition, there are limits to the coverage that your insurance will provide. If you have been injured in a car accident, understanding how those limits will apply to your case is vital to making an informed decision about whether to pursue a claim. A seasoned car accident lawyer can explain your options so that you know what to expect. 

Understanding Your PIP Coverage

Florida law requires that all automobile liability insurance policies include PIP coverage or “personal injury protection.” As mentioned above, PIP provides coverage in the event of a car accident regardless of fault, and it will provide coverage for both your injuries and your lost income. However, there are limits to the coverage PIP will provide: 

  • 80% of your medical expenses up to $10,000
  • 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000

As you can see, PIP will not cover all of your medical expenses or your lost wages. In addition, it will cover those losses up to $10,000. With the cost of medical care today, treatment for even moderate injuries could quickly exceed $10,000. Victims who suffer catastrophic injuries may be out of work for an extended period of time, meaning that their losses could also exceed the $10,000 limit long before they are able to return to work. Lastly, it is important to note that PIP will not cover any non-economic losses such as your pain and suffering. 

Why You May Need a Lawyer

Even though Florida is a no-fault state, you can pursue the at-fault driver for any of your out-of-pocket losses. It may not be worthwhile to pursue a claim against the other driver in most cases where the losses are under the $10,000 limits, but a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you with that decision. 

However, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney if either your medical expenses or your lost wages exceed $10,000. Pursuing a claim against the other driver is your only option for recovering your uncovered losses, which may be significant in this scenario. Keep in mind, this is not an all-or-nothing situation – you can make a claim under your PIP coverage while pursuing a claim against the other driver. For example: 

  • Maria is injured in a t-bone car accident when Richard runs a red light. Maria suffers a broken femur and broken pelvis, both of which require multiple surgeries. She must then undergo physical therapy. She is confined to a wheelchair for 6 months, making it impossible for her to work at her job as a flight attendant. Her medical expenses eventually totaled $100,000 and she lost approximately $20,000 in income. 
  • Maria would first file a claim under her PIP coverage, which would entitle her to compensation of $8,000 for her medical expenses (80% of $10,000) and $6,000 of her lost income (60% of $10,000). She could then pursue a claim against Richard for $92,000 in medical expenses, $14,000 in lost wages, and her pain and suffering. 

A car accident lawyer can help you with both parts of your claim to make sure that you get the medical treatment you need and that you get fair compensation for any losses that are not covered by PIP. 

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact The Grife Law Firm Today 

Figuring out the way forward can be overwhelming when you’re recovering from a serious injury. Fortunately, you don’t have to face this alone – a car accident lawyer from The Grife Law Firm can handle every aspect of your claim, from talking to the insurance companies to filing the lawsuit. Call us today at 561-998-0770 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and your options.