If you're new to the state of Florida and you plan to drive while you live here, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the state's somewhat nontraditional auto insurance system. Florida, along with a small handful of other states, has a no-fault insurance law. If you're coming from one of the many states that have traditional auto insurance systems that do assign fault, you may find Florida's system a little confusing at first, and it's best to learn how it works before you're in an accident. Here are a few things that can help you understand no-fault insurance.
How Can No One Be At Fault?
If you've ever been hit by a driver who crossed against a red light or who was greatly exceeding the speed limit, you may be left wondering how it's possible not to assign fault. Clearly, at least some accidents are caused by one or more of the drivers involved. The no-fault system doesn't free negligent drivers from responsibility. An at-fault driver may face fines or other penalties if the accident resulted from their disregard of the traffic laws.
What a no-fault system does is place most of the responsibility for paying for your damages and injuries on your own insurance company, regardless of who is determined to have caused the accident. Instead of going through the other driver's insurance company to get your medical treatments or damages paid for, your own policy will cover those expenses.
Advantages of No-Fault
You may wonder what the advantages are of the no-fault system are. Florida implemented the no-fault system in an effort to reduce the need for litigation and speed up the recovery process for accident victims. With no need to sort out fault in most car accident cases, you don't have to convince some other driver's insurance company that they owe you money. You don't have to sort out the facts of the case before receiving medical treatment or repairing the damage to your car.
Instead, you're protected by your own policy that you chose. You can start receiving medical treatment immediately, and you'll receive compensation for any property damage from your own insurance company. This can be an advantage for injured drivers, especially in the case of accidents where fault is unclear and difficult to determine. The streamlined system is also intended to keep the price of auto insurance in the state of Florida lower.
Disadvantages of No-Fault
No-fault insurance does have drawbacks. The law limits your ability to sue a negligent driver, as well as the amount of benefits that you can receive. Your insurance company is only required to pay for economic damages, such as prescriptions, medical bills, and property damage, up to the limit on your policy. Your insurance company is not required to pay you for non-economic damages, such as loss of future earnings or pain and suffering.
If you've suffered non-economic damages, you may still be able to sue, if your accident meets certain conditions. For example, in order to have a case for compensation for pain and suffering resulting from a car accident under Florida law, one of these four conditions must be present: there must have been loss of a bodily function that is both permanent and significant, a reasonable medical probability of permanent injury, significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement, or a death. If one of these conditions is present, you would still collect economic damages from your auto insurance company, but you would also file a lawsuit against the other driver or their insurance company for your non-economic damages.
Do You Still Need a Lawyer?
Just because Florida's no-fault system limits your ability to sue doesn't mean that you can't benefit from the advice of an attorney after the accident. An attorney can help you negotiate with your own insurance company and ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your economic damages. An attorney can also advise you as to whether you have a case for non-economic damages under Florida law.
When you apply for insurance in Florida, do your research and choose a company that offers high quality coverage at reasonable rates. Then, if you're ever in an accident, consult an experienced local personal injury attorney for advice about receiving the compensation that you're entitled to. You can also read more here about how to get the compensation you deserve.Share