What is the Florida “No Fault” Law?
As far as car accidents are concerned, Florida follows a no-fault system. This means that no matter who is at fault, it is your insurance company that will handle any claims that you make and it will be your insurance company that will pay out damages for any injuries that you may have incurred. The other driver may be the negligent party, but the law does not allow you to take legal action against them (unless there is an exception). They may, however, have to deal with an increase in their car insurance. Whatever the situation, the point is that if a car accident occurs, it is your policy that may be your first option for help. The biggest advantage of a no-fault system is that it helps avoid unnecessary legal battles. Nobody has to fight with anybody and drivers receive their benefits from their respective insurance companies.
There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. Even under a no-fault system, if you suffer permanent injuries because of the accident you can pursue a claim against the driver who was at fault. Similarly, if your injuries result in permanent scarring or disfigurement or permanent loss to an important bodily function, in these cases as well you can sue for damages. Your PIP cannot possibly compensate you for such permanent injuries, and that is why you have the right to file a liability claim or lawsuit. You can also claim damages for emotional factors such as pain and suffering. Finally, your PIP policy does not pay you for damages to your vehicle in case of an accident. If you want to be compensated for that loss, you have the right to sue the driver who was at-fault.
Another important scenario that you should keep in mind is that you can get into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. While driving without insurance is considered illegal in the state, there are still many drivers who continue to do so. Mandatory insurance requirements in Florida do not require drivers to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Now, in case you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver and your insurance policy does not include UIM coverage, you could be in a bit of a mess if you do not have enough coverage to cover your costs. You should talk to a lawyer if such an incident occurs to determine your options.