“Florida is a no-fault state.” That’s what you may hear after being involved in a car accident. Many people don’t fully understand that what that means and could mislead you in your rights after an automobile accident. Let’s examine what being a no-fault state really means.
In a no-fault state such as Florida, your own car insurance covers most of your medical expenses and some of your lost wages regardless of who is at fault for the car accident. The maximum combined benefit is $10,000. This coverage is called Personal Injury Protection coverage or PIP coverage. It is one of the only two car insurance coverage which is required in Florida (property damage coverage is the other). Essentially, the no-fault coverage eliminates the need for a driver to go after another party’s insurance company in order to obtain medical treatment or be reimbursed for lost wages.
Florida is one of only 12 states that currently have no-fault insurance laws. The other states include Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. Three of those states—Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania—give residents the choice of picking no-fault insurance or opting out in favor of “full tort” coverage, which is available in just about every other state.
The Benefit of No-Fault Coverage
Although I am not personally a big fan of no-fault coverage because of the insurance industry control over the process, there are some benefits to being a no fault state. First, if there is a dispute of liability (who caused the crash), someone without health insurance coverage may not be able to obtain the needed medical care or be reimbursed lost wages while the issue of liability is disputed and litigated. Secondly, after a car accident, a person gets to choose their doctor for treatment. As long as the doctor takes PIP, the injured person can treat with the doctor of their choice.
The Negatives of Being a No-Fault State
The Florida legislature (with the guidance of the huge insurance lobbyists) have placed so many restrictions on the rights of Floridians who are required to carry no-fault insurance coverage. Now, if they can find a doctor to testify that the injured person does not have an “emergency medical condition,” the carrier can cap the benefits at $2,500 (despite the insured paying for $10,000 in benefits). Also, to be entitled to additional damages such as pain and suffering, the injured person must prove that he or she has sustained a permanent injury.
If you are involved in a car accident in Florida, it is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are in a no-fault state like Florida. It is best that you talk with an attorney who understands the repercussions of being in a no-fault state. But, remember, it only pertains to who initially pays for the medical expenses and lost wages.
Drive safely and watch out for those who don’t!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.