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Fault Matters: Don’t Be Confused By “No-Fault”

February 2, 2017 | Category: Automobile Accidents | Share

Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state.  This “no-fault” auto insurance status can confuse drivers who have legitimate personal injury claims.  Certain questions tend to arise.  What does no-fault mean, exactly?  In Florida, does fault matter when litigating personal injury claims?  These concerns are best addressed together.

So, what does no-fault entail?

In the state of Florida, drivers are required by law to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage as a component of their auto insurance package.  When the driver is involved in an accident, the PIP coverage kicks in and pays for the first $10k of their medical expenses, regardless of actual fault for the accident itself.

Does fault matter in Florida?

Drivers unfamiliar with the application of Florida no-fault law frequently overestimate no-fault insurance protection, thinking that – as fault does not play a role in the minimal PIP payout – fault is inconsequential.  In reality, however, fault matters a great deal when it comes to recovering damages for your personal injury claim.

To demonstrate how fault matters, let’s take a closer look at a typical personal injury claim plays out.

How It All Fits Together

Consider the following example.

Suppose that you’re severely injured in a motor vehicle accident.  The defendant was speeding and rear-ended you at a red light, causing you significant neck and back injuries.  After working with a qualified attorney, you estimate your total damages at roughly $300k.

Florida no-fault law has very limited application.  With Florida’s no-fault PIP insurance, you will only recover the first $10k of your damages (medical expenses) from your PIP insurance coverage.  That leaves the bulk of your damages – roughly $290k – remaining.

These damages may include, but are not limited to past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, quality of life deterioration, and more.

To recover the remaining $290k, you will have to either file a lawsuit against the defendant or recover against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage (if the defendant is uninsured or underinsured).  When litigating a personal injury claim against a defendant in Florida or recovering against UIM insurance coverage, fault matters.

Bear in mind that if the defendant is found to have caused the accident that resulted in your injuries, then their insurance is responsible for your various damages.  If the defendant is not adequately insured, then you will have to recover against your own UIM policy.  It’s important to work with a qualified personal injury attorney to ensure that you properly identify the potential sources for recovery of damages.

If you are able to show that the defendant is at fault – and therefore liable – for your injuries, you may be able to successfully recover your damages in full.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, don’t be confused by Florida “no-fault” rules.  Fault does matter for recovering damages after the first $10k paid out by your PIP insurance coverage.  You will have to sue the defendant (or recover against your own UIM policy) in order to fully recover.

To work with a reputable Fort Myers accident law firm, contact attorney Randall Spivey today. At the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., we provide free and confidential consultations to discuss all legal options.

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