Is Florida a No-Fault State?
In 2019 in Florida, there were a reported 401,867 auto accidents, of which 29,155 occurred in Hillsborough County, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This begs the question — if you’re injured in a vehicular accident in Florida, can you obtain compensation from the other driver, whom you clearly feel to be at fault?
The answer is often “no” since Florida is one of a dozen or so states that have no-fault statutes on the books. Your compensation will come solely from your own insurance policy, unless you suffered what the state defines as a “serious” injury.
If you live in the Tampa or St. Petersburg area, contact the Hoag Law Firm, P.A., where personal injury claims get the attention they deserve, along with the tenacity to pursue just compensation so you can return to living your life again.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law and PIP
Florida’s no-fault insurance statute requires operators of vehicles in the state to maintain riders in their insurance policy to cover Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). The minimum for both riders is $10,000. You are free to obtain higher levels if you choose.
Your PIP rider covers yourself, your children, and members of your household even if the injury occurs in someone else’s vehicle, plus passengers in your automobile who do not own their own vehicle and therefore lack PIP coverage.
When you’re injured in an auto accident, you must first turn to your insurance company, which will tap into your PIP coverage to compensate you for medical expenses and loss of income, but will not provide compensation for pain and suffering. Any vehicular damage will be covered by your PDL.
So what should you do if your losses exceed $10,000 for either personal injury or property damage? For injuries, you may be able to sue the other driver if you’ve suffered a “serious injury” as defined by the state. Florida law will also allow you to pursue compensation from the other driver for property damage recovery, so long as you can prove that person to be at fault.
Seeking Personal Injury
Compensation through Legal Action
You cannot sue the other driver or drivers for personal injury damages in Florida unless you suffered what the state defines as a serious injury. The statutes define serious injury as follows:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Bone fractures
- Substantially full disability for 90 days or more
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
When a serious injury can be identified, you are free to pursue compensation from the other driver. In this type of legal action, you can claim compensation beyond your economic losses from medical bills and income interruption. You can seek compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. All in all, you can seek compensation through an at-fault lawsuit for:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Loss of present and future income
- Pain and suffering
- Costs of household services when you are unable to perform them yourself (cleaning, lawn care, etc.)
- Disfigurement or physical impairment
However, you must prove the other driver was at fault for the accident, which brings up the legal issue of negligence.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Florida is considered a comparative negligence state, which means that you, as well as the other driver, may have contributed to the accident that resulted in your injuries. If the court finds that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident for which you’re seeking compensation, you would then find the judgment reduced by 20 percent to account for your percentage of fault. This means that if you were awarded $100,000 in damages, but were found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, you would only be eligible to receive $80,000 in compensation.
Remember, negligence is a double-edged sword, and you could find yourself on the hook for a judgment against you that your PIP might not cover. You will then be liable for the cost unless you purchase Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage along with your PIP and PDL. Your BIL coverage will help cover any judgment against you up to the limit that you have purchased.
Get Help from an Experienced
Personal Injury Attorney
If your injury is serious, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to go to bat for you. Even if you’re just filing a PIP claim, your insurance company will try to low ball you and get you to sign a waiver against any future claims arising from your accident — for instance, any injuries that become apparent later on after your settlement.
Your best legal resource in Tampa and St. Petersburg, or the nearby areas of Clearwater, Bradenton, and Land O’ Lakes is the Hoag Law Firm, P.A. The legal team at Hoag Law Firm, P.A. will fight hard to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. Call or reach out today for a free consultation. The team at Hoag Law Firm, P.A. will assess your situation and work with you on devising the best path forward to obtain the compensation you deserve.