The Florida Homestead Law in Relation to Suing a Florida Driver Personally
Every Florida driver must carry insurance. However, by law, the insurance that is required is not necessarily the coverage that protects innocent accident victims from the injuries and damages sustained as a result of one’s negligence. If a negligent driver does not carry insurance and, thus, you cannot pursue a claim for damages against sure coverage allotted by an insurance company, can you sue that negligent driver personally? Yes. In suing the negligent driver personally, can a forced sale be required to satisfy the judgment, if you obtain one? Probably not. The Homestead Exemption is a constitutional safeguard and one purpose of why it is afforded is to protect the family home from a forced sale necessitated by paying a debt. Certainly, there can be other methods to satisfy a debt arising from a judgment for an auto accident other than depriving a family of their household (one example of how a debt can be satisfied is by garnishing one’s wages). The Homestead Exemption is governed by Article X, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution and states, in pertinent part: There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court…the following property owned by a natural person:personal property to the value of one thousand dollars. (A) There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court…the following property owned by a natural person: a homestead, if located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land and improvements thereon…
personal property to the value of one thousand dollars.
(B) These exemptions shall inure to the surviving spouse or heirs of the owner It is also important to consider that there can be exceptions to the Homestead Exemption, including the ability of certain entities to circumvent the protection. Examples include: 1) the government can pierce the exemption for one’s failure to pay taxes, 2) if one does not make a mortgage payment, a mortgagor can pierce the exemption, and 3) a contractor who has done work on the home, but who has yet to receive payment, can also pierce the exemption. Although several states extend this protection, the specific homestead laws vary from state to state. In any event, do not let the Homestead Exemption deter you from pursuing a claim for injuries and damages suffered as a result of a motor vehicle collision. Your right to be provided compensation for injuries can be effectuated in an alternative way; although a home may be protected from a legal judgment resulting from an auto accident, other assets or savings can be pursued. The ideal scenario, however, is that the negligent driver was careful enough to purchase extra coverage to protect innocent victims of potential negligent behavior or acts (even though you may be able to obtain a judgment against a driver for negligence, there is the risk they can proceed with bankruptcy causing such debts to be discharged). To consider your rights and get the justice you deserve, and to determine whether or not there is automobile insurance coverage to pursue for your injuries and damages, contact Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A. an aggressive firm who will fight for your rights.