The term “ no-fault insurance ” means that your own auto insurance carrier will carry the responsibility of paying some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings if you should get into a car accident, regardless of the attribution of fault. By contrast, in a liability state (a state that does not adhere to the “no-fault” principle), the drivers in an accident can choose whether to file a claim for personal injuries under their own policy or under the “at-fault” party, and they can even choose to litigate the claim to determine who is at fault and responsible for the damages and costs associated with the accident.
There are about a dozen states where the “no-fault” car insurance laws are in effect. These states include: Florida, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
A “no-fault” claim will fall under your personal injury protection benefits, otherwise known as PIP benefits. All Florida drivers are required to carry, at a minimum, PIP benefits under their respective policies. Personal Injury Protection will not only cover you, individually, in an accident, but will also cover your child, members of your household who are relatives, a passenger who lacks PIP coverage and does not own a vehicle, licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your permission, and some other case-specific scenarios.
THE INJURY THRESHOLD
A significant element to a “no-fault” claim is that, in many states, you are not permitted to make a claim for personal injury damages against a negligent driver unless your medical bills reach a certain threshold level, or your injury is deemed sufficiently serious. The Legislature placed these restrictions on drivers in an effort to eliminate smaller claims and the congestion in our court system. For example, in Florida, only car accidents that result in permanent injury, or significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, will allow someone to circumvent and make a claim outside of the “no-fault” system. As these are very vague qualifiers, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether your claim meets Florida’s threshold for a serious injury.
As stated above, Florida drivers must carry, at a minimum, PIP benefits, which include: $10,000.00 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and $10,000.00 in property damage liability benefits. Florida does NOT require drivers to have bodily injury liability benefits, which would cover a non at-fault party should there be personal injury damages over and beyond the PIP policy of protection. This can prove significant when selecting the appropriate form of coverage for your individual policy.
BENEFITS TO NO-FAULT
Simply put, the Florida No-Fault Law allows for prompt payment of claims of medical bills and lost wages without the need to investigate and determine fault. It is limited in its benefit because it does not provide for intangibles such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, or anything of that nature. A claim toward the tortfeasor’s bodily injury policy or under your own uninsured/underinsured policy is the only way to essentially compensate yourself for these types of losses or for medical bills that exceed the applicable PIP payout.