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How Florida's Auto Insurance Laws Affect Accident Claims in Port Charlotte

You may have heard that last year the insurance laws in Florida have changed as part of the "tort reform" effort. This sounds great right up until you have been in a serious car accident. If you have been in a crash recently, you’re probably also dealing with insurance companies and wondering how Florida’s new auto insurance laws will impact your claim. As a Florida resident, you know our state has some quirky laws, and auto insurance is no exception. The good news is, your attorney will understand the key laws and how insurance companies apply them, you’ll be in a much better position to get fair compensation for your accident claim.

Florida's No-Fault Insurance Law Explained

Florida's No-Fault Insurance Law requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection or PIP coverage as part of their auto insurance. PIP coverage pays for injuries to you, your passengers, and pedestrians in an accident regardless of who's at fault. The minimum PIP limit in Florida is $10,000.

PIP Coverage In Florida

In a no-fault accident in Florida, you still need to exchange insurance information with other drivers. After you are in. a safe place and have exchanged information with the other driver, either contact a lawyer immediately or file an initial claim with your own insurance company. Your PIP coverage will pay for 80% of reasonable medical expenses up to $10,000, including ambulance fees, hospital stays, doctor visits, therapy or rehabilitation. It also covers 60% of lost wages and other out-of-pocket costs. The other driver's PIP pays the rest.

Filing an Accident Claim

If you're in an accident, call the police and exchange info with the other driver. Get their name, address, phone number, license plate, driver's license number and insurance details. Seek any necessary medical attention right away. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible and file a claim. They will review police reports, medical records and bills to determine fault and compensation. If your injuries and expenses exceed $10,000, you may need to pursue a bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver's liability coverage.

How Liability Coverage Impacts Claims

In addition to PIP, Florida requires drivers to carry liability coverage to pay for injuries and damage to others in an accident you cause. The minimum liability limits are $10,000 for injury/death to one person, $20,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $10,000 for property damage. If an accident is clearly your fault, the other driver can make a claim against your liability coverage for amounts exceeding their PIP limit. You would then be responsible for paying the difference between your liability limit and their total damages.

What Is PIP Coverage?

PIP coverage, or Personal Injury Protection, is a type of car insurance that Florida requires all drivers to carry. It covers certain medical and lost wage expenses after an accident, regardless of who's at fault. Understanding how PIP works in Florida can help you better handle accident claims.

What expenses does PIP cover?

PIP coverage pays for reasonable and necessary medical expenses resulting from a car accident, up to $10,000. This includes things like hospital visits, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and rehabilitation. PIP also covers up to 60% of any lost wages if your injuries prevent you from working. Some insurers offer extended PIP coverage for higher limits.

How does PIP affect accident claims?

Since PIP pays out regardless of fault, it can affect the claims process. For example, PIP will pay your medical bills promptly so you can get treatment right away. You don’t have to wait for the at-fault party’s insurer to accept liability. However, PIP limits the amount the other driver’s insurer owes for your medical expenses. If your bills exceed $10,000, you’ll need underinsured motorist coverage to pay the rest.

You’ll also need to submit any PIP claims to your own auto insurer first before pursuing a liability claim against the other driver. Your insurer may require you to exhaust your PIP benefits before they will pursue the at-fault party to reimburse what they paid out. Some insurers may negotiate with the other insurer to recover PIP payments, while others may require you to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The bottom line is that while PIP gets you immediate coverage after an accident in Florida, it also introduces some complexity to the claims process that can affect your ability to recover full compensation for serious injuries. Understanding how PIP works is key to navigating accident claims in the Sunshine State.

The Verbal Threshold in Florida

Florida is unique in that it has certain laws regarding auto insurance and accident claims that differ from most other states. One of the most significant is the verbal threshold. To understand how this affects accident claims, it’s important to first understand what it means.

The Verbal Threshold in Florida

The verbal threshold refers to the requirement that injuries must be substantial or permanent in order to recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Minor injuries are not eligible. Specifically, the injuries must significantly impact the person's normal life activities, result in permanent injury or scarring, or cause the loss of a body part. Some examples that would likely meet the verbal threshold include:

  • A spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis
  • The loss of a limb
  • A traumatic brain injury causing long-term cognitive impairment
  • Severe burns over a large portion of the body

Conversely, a broken arm, whiplash, or soft tissue damage typically would not qualify as these are often temporary and the person can generally recover full use and mobility.

What this means for accident claims is that at-fault parties are typically only liable for economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, unless the injuries are substantial. Victims of car accidents in Florida can only pursue a lawsuit for non-economic damages if their injuries satisfy the verbal threshold. The serious injury threshold protects at-fault drivers from litigation over minor collisions while still allowing victims with grievous harm to recover adequate compensation.

It’s important for anyone involved in an auto accident in Florida to understand these laws. Speak with a personal injury attorney to evaluate your claim and determine if your injuries may meet the verbal threshold to pursue further legal action. An experienced lawyer can help navigate Florida’s complex auto insurance laws and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf following a serious accident.

Modified Comparative Negligence in Accident Claims

In Florida, determining who is at fault in an auto accident claim is not always straightforward. Florida uses a "modified comparative negligence" system, which means that more than one driver can share blame for an accident. Insurance companies will assign a percentage of fault to each driver, like 70% to one and 30% to the other.

Modified Comparative Negligence in Accident Claims

Under Florida's pure comparative negligence rule, even if you are 49% at fault, you may still recover damages from the other driver. However, your recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if damages are $100,000 and you are found 30% at fault, you can recover $70,000 (70% of $100,000) from the other driver's insurance.

The percentages of fault are determined by factors like:
  • Which driver had the right of way
  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Failure to signal
  • Distracted driving (texting, eating, etc.)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol
  • Weather and road conditions

Insurance companies will investigate the details of the accident to determine fault percentages for each driver before negotiating or settling a claim. Police reports, witness statements, photos of vehicle damage, and in some cases professional accident reconstruction are used to help establish comparative fault.

If you've been in an accident in Florida, speak to an attorney regarding your rights and options for pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit. An attorney can review the details of your accident, deal with insurance companies on your behalf, and potentially negotiate a higher settlement for your injuries and losses. They can also represent you in court if a lawsuit becomes necessary.

Working with a personal injury lawyer is typically contingency-based, meaning there are no upfront fees and they only get paid if they recover compensation for you. Be sure to find an attorney with experience handling auto accident cases in Florida who can guide you through the state's comparative negligence laws and help you pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.

Statute of Limitations on Accident Claims

The statute of limitations refers to the time period within which an accident claim or lawsuit must be filed. In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from car accidents, is two years from the date of the accident. This means if you were involved in a car accident, you have two years from the date of the crash to either settle your claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company or file a lawsuit to recover damages.

If a lawsuit is not filed within the two-year statute of limitations, the claimant's right to seek compensation is barred. While two years may seem like ample time, it can pass quickly, especially if injuries from the accident do not surface immediately or the full extent of damages is not immediately known. It's important to understand how Florida's statute of limitations applies to your unique situation.

The two-year clock starts ticking on the actual date of the accident, not from the date you discover injuries or damages. As soon as an accident happens, you should report it to the police and insurance companies involved as soon as possible. This establishes an official record of the crash, which can help support your claim. You should also get prompt medical attention, even if injuries seem minor.

Uninsured motorist coverage provides protection if the at-fault driver has little or no insurance. In Florida, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. If damages from an accident exceed these limits, you'll need to recover additional compensation from your own uninsured motorist coverage or by filing a lawsuit.

To protect your right to fair compensation, it's important to understand Florida's statute of limitations and auto insurance requirements. Be sure to report any accident immediately, get necessary medical care right away, and consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the details of your claim and legal options available. An attorney can help ensure the proper steps are taken within the limited timeframe to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Call to action for All Injuries Law firm of Port Charlotte, Florida

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Florida, it’s important to understand how the state’s unique insurance laws will impact your claim. Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning both parties’ insurance companies will pay for injuries and damages, regardless of who caused the accident. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is required.

All drivers must carry $10,000 in PIP to cover medical bills and lost wages after an accident. PIP will pay 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost income up to the $10,000 limit. The at-fault driver’s liability coverage typically won’t cover these costs.

You can still pursue a liability claim.

Even though PIP pays some costs, you can still file a liability claim against the at-fault driver to recover additional damages. Their bodily injury coverage will pay for pain and suffering, scarring or disfigurement, and other non-economic damages PIP doesn’t cover. You’ll need to prove the other driver was at fault to win a liability claim.

Seek legal counsel regarding “bad faith.”

If an insurance company denies or delays your PIP or liability claim in “bad faith,” you may be entitled to extra damages. An attorney can help determine if the insurer acted improperly and the best way to pursue additional compensation.

The statute of limitations is short.

You have only two years from the accident date to settle a PIP claim and four years to file a lawsuit for additional damages. Missing these deadlines will forfeit your right to compensation, so talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Call All Injuries Law Firm for help.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Port Charlotte or anywhere in Florida, call All Injuries Law Firm. Our experienced attorneys understand Florida's complex insurance laws and how to maximize compensation for your claim. We offer free consultations and will walk you through every step of the claims process, ensuring your rights are protected. Don’t delay—call today to schedule your free case review.

The basics on how Florida's auto insurance laws could impact you if you're ever in an accident in Port Charlotte. The no-fault system means you'll have to rely on your own coverage first, the PIP minimums determine how much you'll receive for injuries, and the statute of limitations means you only have so long to take action. Knowing these details ahead of time will help ensure you get the coverage and compensation you deserve. The next time you're cruising down Highway 41, you can feel confident knowing how the Sunshine State's auto laws have you covered in case of an accident.