Florida is one of the dozen states in the nation that uses a “no-fault” system for auto insurance claims. The rules and procedures for car accident claims are complex and no-fault laws contain confusing language. Below, we explain the basics of the Florida no-fault law in simple terms and how the insurance claims process works.
For case-specific questions, or for help filing a car accident claim, call Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. for a free consultation at your convenience: 954-524-2820.
Florida adopted the no-fault system in 1971 to lessen the burden on local courts. In a no-fault state, drivers turn to their own insurance companies for recovery after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. In other words, fault does not play a role, hence the term “no-fault.”
In contrast, states with a fault-based system allow drivers to choose whether they want to pursue compensation for their losses from their own insurer (if they have specific policies) or from the at-fault party’s insurer.
Florida’s no-fault system limits victims’ options after a car accident. The types of damages you can recover are limited, and so are your avenues for recovery.
Legislatures rationalized that the no-fault system allowed victims for quicker (albeit smaller) recovery. “The principle underlying no-fault automobile insurance laws is a trade-off of one benefit for another, by assuring payment of medical, disability and death benefits, regardless of fault, in return for a limitation on the right to sue for non-economic damages,” explains the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
When you file a claim with your own insurance company, you can recover up to your policy limits. The types of damages you can recover depend on which coverages you have. Florida’s insurance laws require that policyholders keep at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. When you are in an accident, you file a claim with your own insurance company and your PIP will cover a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages.
You can recover $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages, unless you purchased additional PIP when you bought your policy. If you carry collision coverage, you can also collect reimbursement for your car repair costs, up to your policy limits. Check your insurance documents for details on your coverages.
Note: Under Florida’s no-fault laws, you are not entitled to pain and suffering damages when you file with your own insurance company. However, there are limited instances in which you can step outside the no-fault system and pursue fuller recovery (more on that below).
Florida no-fault laws provide certain exceptions in which car accident victims can file a claim against the other driver, rather than filing with their own insurance company. Florida Statute § 627.737 states that you have the right to pursue compensation from an at-fault driver when you sustain:
Also, when someone is killed in a car accident, his/her family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver.
When you step outside of the no-fault system and file a claim against the at-fault party, you can obtain additional damages you would not otherwise be entitled to. You can collect damages for the full costs of your medical bills and the full amount to loss of wages (not just a portion of them like PIP allows for), and for various noneconomic losses including:
Before you begin the claims process, talk to one of our attorneys at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. to get a clear understanding of what your options are. We can review your accident, determine liability, and explain the best way to move forward to collect the most money.
In the meantime, you can start collecting evidence to support your claim and prove your damages. This is important regardless of whether you file a no-fault or a fault claim. Try to gather pertinent items such as:
We can help with all aspects of your case, including filing the claim and accompanying documents, calculating your damages, and negotiating with your insurer for fuller recovery.
If your injuries are severe and another party (defendant) was at fault, we can act on your behalf and hold the defendant liable for your losses. In most accident cases, the defendant is another driver, but there may be other liable parties, too, such as a pedestrian, bicyclist, auto manufacturer, truck company, or even city entity.
CAUTION: Do not sign or agree to a settlement offer from any party or insurer without first running your case by our lawyer. This is a huge mistake. You are likely entitled to much more than it offered, and once you sign, you will not be able to ask for more later if your condition worsens.
At Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L., we offer our services on a contingency basis, which means we do not charge you unless we win your case. There are no upfront costs on your part when you enlist in our help and there is no charge for the consultation. Call us today at 954-524-2820 to get started.