Florida is one of only 12 states that use a no-fault insurance system rather than a tort system, as identified by the Insurance Information Institute (III). Of those, it is one of only three states that limits lawsuits by a verbal threshold rather than a monetary threshold.
The differences between our system and the rest of the nation mean that it is easy to make mistakes in understanding how it works. So, what does all that mean for you when you are using Florida roads?
Defining Our Terms
No-fault car insurance is a colloquial term that describes Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP). The Balance provides a detailed breakdown of what that means, but the basic definition is that PIP covers medical and other related costs for you no matter where you are, and anyone else in your vehicle who does not have their own PIP coverage, up to a monetary amount determined by your policy. In Florida, the minimum PIP coverage is $10,000. This is in contrast to a tort system of insurance, in which drivers are required to carry insurance that pays for damages to everyone in an accident where that driver is at fault.
A verbal threshold, as defined by III, means that victims are limited in their legal options based on verbal criteria, such as death or significant disfigurement. This is in contrast to a monetary threshold, which allows lawsuits on any damages that exceed a specific dollar amount. Both of these are separate from systems which would not limit the availability of lawsuits at all.
What This Means For You
Insurance payouts can arrive much more quickly in a no-fault system, because they are collected from your own insurance company rather than requiring a legal process to demand it from the driver at fault. This also prevents the legal system from being bogged down by dealing with every accident that happens on the road, so cases which do require legal intervention have a shorter line ahead of them. There are, however, problems with the system. A study conducted and verified by Wharton College, seems to indicate that states with no-fault insurance tend to have higher rates of reckless driving behaviors. The lawsuit limits also mean that victims who need to pursue legal options face more obstacles to verify their claims.
What this means is that in Florida, the victims of an auto accident have a great need for legal counsel to properly navigate the law and identify their options. As we describe in this brief video, you may also be entitled to a portion of the insurance payout even if you were partly at fault. Every case is unique and requires special attention. Contact a professional who understands the laws on Florida’s roads today to discuss your options and plan your next steps.