A bill to repeal Florida’s no-fault auto insurance is rapidly advancing through the Florida Legislature. As of this writing, the bill has passed the Senate and is moving towards a full House vote, and if it prevails, then onto the full Legislature. Under the Florida Senate Bill 54, the no-fault provision would be eliminated but each driver would be required to have bodily injury coverage. What do these changes mean for drivers?
What Is Florida's No-Fault Car Insurance?
Florida, like several other states including New Jersey and New York, are currently no-fault states, which means if you’re in a car accident, your auto insurance carrier is responsible for paying certain damages from the accident, regardless of fault. So, even if another driver could be clearly at-fault for the accident, your auto insurance pays the claim for your medical bills. However, Florida’s decades old laws have very low minimums which do not even come close to covering the costs for serious injuries.
Florida drivers are considered the fourth-worst drivers in the nation. With an average of 1,101 crashes per day and over 150,000 injury accidents per year, it's not a surprise that Florida has a high rate of crashes for its size and population. Drivers also carry the risk that they may be involved in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver since 20% of Florida drivers don’t have any insurance at all. Coupled together, these factors put drivers at high risk of being injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault and having no recourse to be compensated for their injuries.
Changes Under Florida's New Car Insurance Law
Currently, in order to register a vehicle, Florida drivers are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) which allows up to $10,000 for their own medical, disability and funeral expenses if they are injured in an accident or cause an injury accident. $10,000, however, is not enough to cover even a basic hospital visit, which leaves at-fault drivers open to lawsuits. While many Florida drivers carry liability coverage beyond these minimums, the proposed new law would mandate Bodily Injury Coverage.
Bodily Injury Coverage pays for the medical costs for other people if you injure them in a car accident. The new law requires Bodily Injury Coverage, with minimums of $25,000 per occupant and $50,000 per incident. As of now, the new law does not have any requirements for PIP coverage.
According to recent news reports, critics of the bill argue that a study should be done to understand how this change will affect car insurance rates. Some argue that rates will increase pushing more people to driving without any insurance. Many Florida drivers are already carrying policies that go well above the minimums required and are arguably already paying for higher levels of coverage. Both sides agree there is not enough data to say how much premiums would increase for drivers.
Florida’s repeal of the no-fault car insurance laws would mean that injured victims could recover compensation for more of their medical bills and other losses. The new law also allows for claims for future medical expenses, future lost wages, mental anguish or pain and suffering -- all currently not allowed under the state’s PIP laws. Clearly another win for innocent victims forced to endure medical treatment and rehabilitation caused by someone else’s negligence.
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Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, serves clients in and around Tampa, Florida, with car accident and personal injury claims. With our 12-hour callback guarantee, dedication to outstanding client care, and track record of success, our award-winning attorneys strive to meet every client's expectations and will work tirelessly to ensure the right outcome for your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.