Florida is a “No-Fault Insurance State.” Florida requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance. This No-Fault coverage pays the insured’s bills, regardless of fault, up to the limit of the insurance. The minimum limit is $10,000.
So whether you hear people refer to it as your “no-fault insurance”, your “PIP insurance”, or your “personal injury protection coverage”, that’s all referring to the same thing as a car accident lawyer can explain.
What is Florida’s No-Fault 14-Day Rule?
According to Florida Statue 627.736 after you suffer injuries from a car crash or any motor vehicle accident, you must obtain some form of medical care within 14 days. If you do not, you risk that your insurance company will deny your PIP claim.
Florida Minimum Car Insurance Coverage
Minimum limits for coverage are:
- $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
- $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) insurance.
The PIP insurance you have, besides partly covering your own medical expenses, will also cover injuries to your child or other household members if they were injured in a crash, your child if they are injured on a school bus, yourself if you are injured as a pedestrian or bicyclist and passengers in your car who do not have their own PIP insurance and do not own a car (otherwise their own PIP coverage would provide for them).
Two-Tiered System for Personal Injury Compensation
The state has a two-tiered system for personal injury compensation. One for damages $10,000 and under, and another for damages above $10,000
Typically, a driver has insurance to cover them if they cause an accident. The driver would have to pay for all damage to the other vehicle and any injuries to the occupants of the car and anyone else injured. This is a fault-based system which is used in most states.
$10,000 and Under: There is a no-fault system in place that doesn’t look at who was at fault. Each driver is required to pay for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) that covers the driver’s injuries from an accident. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident, only that an accident happened.
Who Pays Damages When You Have No-Fault Insurance?
All residents are required by law to have a $10,000 PIP policy. This means that when someone is involved in a car accident, all medical bills and lost wages up to $10,000 must be paid from the injured person’s own PIP which pays 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages.
PIP doesn’t cover damage to vehicles, so this would be paid by the at-fault driver, or by the driver’s own auto insurance policy if the accident is the driver’s fault.
Let’s say you get into an accident that is your fault or the other driver’s fault—it doesn’t matter. Your own PIP will pay for 80% of your medical bills and for 60% of your lost time from work.
Damages/Injuries Above $10,000: Once the amount of damages goes above $10,000, then the injured driver can sue the at-fault driver for all damages above $10,000. The law also allows the injured driver to sue if:
- There is a significant and permanent loss of important bodily functions.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- The at-fault person had to pay for all damages.
Advantages to Suing Compared to Using PIP
If you are able to sue, then there are some advantages to the injured person. Some of the most significant advantages are that you can collect pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of quality of life and other “special damages.”
Let’s say you get into an accident, and there is $10,000 in medical bills from your injury and the accident was the other driver’s fault. Because it’s $10,000 or under, you would have to use your PIP coverage which would pay $8,000 (80%).
Now let’s say there were $20,000 in damages, then for the first $10,000, you would get $8,000 from your PIP insurance and then $10,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
In another example, let’s say you have $5,000 in medical bills and $5,000 in lost wages. Then you would be given $4,000 for your medical bills (80%) and $3,000 for lost wages (60%). Since both medical bills and lost wages equal $10,000, then any damages above this amount the injured person can sue the at-fault driver for 100% of damages.
Why Florida’s No-Fault System Makes Sense for Insurance Companies
Back in the early 1970’s, state legislators called up the heads of the insurance companies to Tallahassee. The legislators said they were going to change our system from requiring everybody to have bodily injury liability coverage to cover the person you injured to a system where you are required to have PIP or no-fault coverage. So, they get all the heads of the insurance companies up to Tallahassee and they explain this that even if you’re insured isn’t at fault you’re going to have to pay out up to $10,000 of their medical bills and you’re not going to be entitled to get any of that money back from the at-fault party’s insurance company or the at-fault party. As you can imagine, the heads of the insurance companies said something like “why would that be a good deal for us, if we have to pay our own insurance medical bills even if they’re not at fault and we can’t get our money back from anybody?”
The reason is that in exchange for having to pay out of the $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages for their own insurance when their insurers get sued, the injured person is required to prove that they have a permanent injury as a result of the accident in order to be entitled to any money for pain and suffering. So the insurance companies, knowing that every single personal injury claim involves a claim for pain and suffering damages, jumped on that deal because they know that over the course of time they’re going to pay out less in personal injury claims even if they have to pay out up to $10,000 for their own insurance medical bills.
It’s not a great system. We have been fighting to get the no-fault system repealed. Hopefully, we go back to a system of mandatory bodily injury coverage and no-fault system. But that’s what we have to live with for right now, and this is our system that’s been in place since the 1970s. Until it changes, the no-fault system requires everybody to have PIP coverage and that coverage is required to pay out the first $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages.
Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer
Auto accident lawyer Mike Hancock has obtained verdicts and settlements of more than $1 million in motor vehicle accidents, but we welcome any case, big or small. To learn more about no-fault insurance in Tampa car accident claims, call now for your free, confidential consultation.