If you live in Florida and drive a car, then no doubt you’ve heard the term “no-fault” more than once when talking about car accidents. But do you know what it means to live in a no-fault state and what to do if you’re involved in an accident?
Car accidents can be complicated, made even more so when you must navigate personal injury claims in the wake of one that involves a drunk driver.
Here’s what you need to know if your expenses after an accident exceed your insurance coverage to ensure you are taken care of.
The No-Fault Law
In Florida, the no-fault law essentially means that if a car accident occurs, then both parties make claims to their own insurance regardless of who may have been at fault for the accident.
That’s why Florida drivers are required to have what is called Personal Injury Protection insurance included with their standard car insurance policy.
Why does Florida have a no-fault law? It’s meant to make it easier for people who may be injured in a car accident to get medical treatment, but it does have some restrictions.
Personal Injury Protection insurance, for example, has a medical expense limit, only paying up to a certain amount. Serious injuries that are the result of an accident may meet the injury threshold of the law, which is when you can file a lawsuit against another driver.
What To Do When Expenses Surpass Coverage
If you’re seriously injured in an accident and your PIP insurance is exceeded, then an experienced attorney can help you to figure out the next steps in the process to help get your expenses paid.
After you have exceeded your own insurance, then you can tap into the other driver’s liability coverage. Under the law in Florida, if the severity of your injury and the dollar amount of your damages exceed a certain threshold, then you can seek compensation through the other driver’s liability insurance carrier.
You can also use your own health insurance policy for treatment after you’ve exhausted the other options, but that can result in a large expense for many people for which they may want to seek compensation through the filing of a bodily injury claim.
Bodily Injury Claims
If your injuries exceed the personal injury threshold in Florida, then you may pursue the at-fault drunk driver for damages, something made easier if you have an experienced lawyer to help guide you.
How do you know if you meet the threshold? Under Florida law, you must have an injury that is:
- Significant enough to cause permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Significant enough to cause permanent loss of a bodily function
- Significant enough to cause death
If you meet one of these requirements, then you may be awarded damages to help compensate losses suffered as a result of the accident. Damages can include things such as:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses from the past, present, or future
- Loss of earning capacity in the future
- Property damages
- Pain, suffering, and distress
- Damages for permanent disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Other damages that may have been caused by the accident
If an Accident Occurs
If you’re involved in a car accident in Florida and are injured, it’s vital that you seek medical care for any injuries within 14 days of the accident or you may waive your right to any benefits you could obtain from insurance and your claims will be limited.
Make sure you never sign a settlement offer or release of liability form without fully understanding your rights.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.