"Whether it's a whiplash, serious injury or wrongful death case, we pride ourselves on representing you with the personal service and aggressive representation that you expect and deserve!" -Attorney Ron Sholes
Florida Car Insurance Laws
Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Car Accident Claim in Florida
Florida is one of several states to follow a no-fault insurance system. This means that, if you are involved in an accident, you can seek compensation for your accident-related damages, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. However, Florida’s car insurance laws limit how much you can recover after an accident.
Depending on the amount of coverage you have, as well as the severity of your injuries and other damages, you may need to step outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the liable party in order to recover the full cost of your damages. You can only do this in certain circumstances, so it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your legal rights and options after a serious car accident.
For a free consultation, call The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A. at (855) 933-3881 or contact us online. Our attorneys are here to answer your questions.
Car Insurance Requirements in Florida
State law mandates that all drivers carry auto insurance in certain minimum amounts.
These amounts include:
- Property Damage Liability (PDL): $10,000
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $10,000
This means that you must have at least $10,000 in coverage for both PDL and PIP, but you may choose to increase your limit and/or add additional coverage to your insurance policy.
While property damage liability (PDL) covers you in the event that you cause damage to someone else’s personal property, personal injury protection (PIP) covers you and certain other individuals in the event that you are injured in a crash. In Florida, your insurance pays for damage you cause to someone else’s property, but it pays for your injury-related damages, regardless of who was at fault.
In addition to maintaining the minimum amounts for both PDL and PIP, you may choose to add the following optional car insurance coverage to your policy:
- Bodily injury liability
- Medical payments
- Uninsured/underinsured motorists
- Roadside assistance
What Is Covered by PIP?
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, your PIP coverage kicks in automatically. You do not need to prove that someone else—such as the other driver involved—was at fault for the accident. However, you should know that PIP does not cover all injury-related damages after an accident.
In Florida, PIP covers the following:
- 80% of your “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses, up to $10,000 or your policy limit (if you have increased the limit)
- 60% of your lost wages/income, up to $10,000 or your policy limit; this includes certain expenses related to your care, such as in-home assistance or travel to medical appointments
- Up to $5,000 in funeral/burial expenses, paid to the surviving family members or the estate of someone who dies due to a fatal motor vehicle accident
Notably, if your injury is not considered an “emergency,” PIP only pays up to $2,500 for your damages. The state defines an “emergency medical condition” as “a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity,” including severe pain.
Who Is Covered by PIP?
As the policyholder, your PIP insurance covers you and certain other individuals in the event of an auto accident.
These individuals include:
- Your children, whether they were in your vehicle during an accident or riding on a school bus
- Anyone who lives in your home/is a member of your household
- Passengers in your vehicle who do not own a vehicle and do not have their own PIP insurance
In addition to being covered while traveling in your vehicle, you are covered by your PIP insurance if you are the passenger in another vehicle that is involved in an accident, or if you are struck by a motor vehicle while walking or bicycling.
It’s important to note that, in Florida, PIP follows the vehicle first. This means that, if someone else is driving your car and gets into an accident, they will be covered by your PIP insurance in most cases, even if they were at fault and do not live in your household.
What Is the 14-Day Rule for PIP Claims in Florida?
The 14-day rule is an extremely important rule that affects your ability to collect PIP benefits after an accident. In Florida, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of a motor vehicle accident to be eligible to file a claim under PIP coverage. If you are taken to the emergency room, go to the hospital, or see a doctor during the two weeks immediately after the accident, you can file a claim. If, however, you do not seek medical attention until more than 14 days have passed—or if you do not seek medical attention at all after the crash—you cannot file a PIP claim.
It is very important that you seek medical care as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident, not only for your own health and well-being but also to protect your right to seek benefits under your PIP coverage. Even if you believe that you are not injured or that your injuries are minor and will heal on their own, you should always see a medical provider after an accident.
How to Go Outside Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance System
Because Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, your ability to file a claim against another driver’s auto insurance company or sue the at-fault driver for damages is limited. Ostensibly, this helps to speed up the claims process and limits the number of lawsuits that pass through the court system. In reality, however, this can negatively affect car accident victims whose damages are not fully covered by the limits of PIP insurance.
PIP coverage is relatively low; if you have the minimum amount, you are only covered up to $10,000 for your medical expenses. Additionally, PIP will only pay 80% of your medical expenses up to your policy’s limit. If you suffer a moderate injury and incur $10,000 in medical bills, PIP only pays you $8,000. If you suffer a serious injury, you could find yourself facing thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, PIP only covers up to 60% of your lost income related to the accident, and it does not provide any compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Thankfully, Florida’s car insurance laws allow people who have suffered serious injuries—as defined by the state—to step outside the no-fault system. To do so, you must prove that your injury meets the state’s “serious injury” threshold.
An injury meets the “serious injury” threshold if it results in at least one of the following:
- Permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Permanent and significant loss of a bodily function, system, organ, or member
- Permanent and significant scarring and/or disfigurement
So, if you suffered a catastrophic injury in an auto accident, or if your loved one tragically passed away after being involved in a serious crash, you can bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and/or sue for damages in court. To do this, you will need to establish fault, meaning you will need to prove that the other driver (or another party) was at least partly at fault for the accident that led to your serious injury or the death of your loved one.
Do You Need a Lawyer to File a Car Accident Insurance Claim?
If your claim is extremely straightforward, you may not need a lawyer. However, most car accident cases are complex with numerous complicating factors. If you were injured, even if your injuries seem minor, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced car accident lawyer.
At The Law Offices of Ron Sholes, P.A., we help motor vehicle accident victims with all aspects of their insurance claims. From understanding the law and how it applies to your case to filing a claim and fighting for fair compensation, our team is ready to advocate for you every step of the way.
Give us a call at (855) 933-3881 or contact us online to request a free case evaluation.