Imagine you are driving along Del Prado Boulevard North in Cape Coral, Florida with your family and— out of nowhere— you are sideswiped by a car going much faster than you. You spin out and so does the other car, causing multiple other vehicles to be involved in the accident.
Thankfully, there are no fatalities, but there are injuries. Your wife has a broken wrist from a side airbag, your son hit his head, and you have multiple abrasions from broken glass. Everyone has bruised, if not broken, ribs from their seatbelts.
To you, the person at fault is obvious. It was the crazy driver who was going too fast and hit your car. You’ve only lived in Florida for a 8 months and when the police show up at the accident scene, someone mentions Florida’s no-fault law. You’re outraged. No fault? It’s obvious who was responsible for this accident!
Florida’s laws for car insurance coverage are different than most other states in the country. Because there are so many people who live in Florida for half of the year (the folks that we affectionately dub snowbirds), it is important to understand these laws. If you are in Florida for more than 90 days in a year then you are required to carry Florida automobile insurance.
What are Florida’s auto insurance requirements?
Every driver who has a vehicle registered in the state of Florida must carry a minimum of $10,000 coverage in property damage liability (PDL) and a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP). Florida is one of only two states (the other is New Hampshire) to not require any bodily injury liability (BIL).
PDL covers the damage you may cause to someone else’s property due to your fault in a car accident. BIL covers you when you are at fault in an accident where others are injured. PIP is where the no fault law really comes into play.
PIP basically means regardless of who caused the accident, the first $10,000 worth of medical bills will be paid by your own personal insurance. This is why PIP is often referred to as “no fault” coverage.
These laws were instituted in Florida to keep car insurance premiums low. The reasoning of lawmakers was that payouts in accidents are much faster because there are less lawsuits to determine liability for the car accidents.
Whether or not these benefits outweigh the drawbacks is a hotly debated topic. A University of Pennsylvania study said conclusively that no fault laws lead to more DUIs, DWIs, and a greater instance of speeding. These higher rates of unsafe driving lead to higher fatality rates overall in no fault states.
What if I’m in an accident where I’m not at fault?
You might think that if you are in an accident in Cape Coral, Florida and the other driver is at fault, Florida laws preclude you from suing the other driver for the costs related to property damage or large personal injury bills. This is absolutely untrue.
In Florida, it is even more important than in other states to have the right attorney on your side if you’re the victim of a car accident that lead to personal injury. For example, if you do not seek medical attention within 14 days of an accident, you are no longer qualified for PIP benefits. It is important to speak to an attorney immediately after your car accident to ensure you take all the required steps to receive all the personal injury benefits you are entitled to.
In Southwest Florida, Lusk, Drasites, & Tolisano have been representing Florida residents in personal injury claims due to car accidents for over 30 years. Our motor vehicle accident attorneys specialize in Florida no fault laws and can get you the best settlements for your personal injury claims. If you have recently been in a car accident in Cape Coral or surrounding areas, call our offices today to set up a meeting with one of our expert attorneys to ensure your rights are looked after.