“…But it’s a no-fault state!”
If I had a dime for every time I heard these words I’d be living in Bora Bora in a hut perched precariously above the ocean, taking periodic swims with my pet shark, Razor Ralph.
Why, oh why, didn’t I start collecting those dimes? I digress.
Yes. Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce (look out) AND when it comes to automobile insurance coverage requirements. But being a “no-fault” state in the automobile crash arena doesn’t mean what many people think it does.
The origin of mandated auto insurance in Florida
The Florida Legislature has opted to mandate certain types of automobile insurance coverage for each Florida resident owning a vehicle.
It did this, at least initially, in an attempt to avoid taxpayer assumption of bills racked up from the use of the public hospital system. It also served to combat the financial woes assumed by the persistently high numbers of Florida citizens without health insurance.
So, many years ago, Florida lawmakers determined it best served the public’s interest to mandate that each Florida resident vehicle owner carry insurance that will cover his/her OWN medical expenses, up to $10,000, regardless of fault in an automobile crash.
This means that even if you negligently cause a crash, you, through your own automobile insurance policy, are automatically entitled to coverage of up to $10,000 with which to treat YOUR OWN injuries.
This is the same coverage you are entitled to as the non-negligent victim of a crash. This coverage is “Personal Injury Protection,” or PIP. You’ve heard about it through Roz on radio and TV. Come on. You know her name and are probably reciting her tagline right now. Brilliant marketing to the right audience, truly.
Clarifying what ‘no-fault’ means
This “no-fault” designation causes an awful lot of confusion for my clients, for a couple of reasons.
First, it is logical to think since you didn’t cause a crash, you shouldn’t use your own insurance to seek treatment. Logic has nothing to do with it! The simple truth is that if you’re injured, your first $10,000 in medical expenses are covered by your own automobile policy (with all sorts of exceptions, replacements, etc. given various circumstances only your lawyer will really know or understand). This is what Florida law says, and it is the law by which we must abide.
Second, saying fault doesn’t matter for purposes of your PIP coverage does NOT mean that fault doesn’t matter for purposes of liability, or financial responsibility for the damages caused by the negligent party.
It’s no-fault until it isn’t
Just remember: “No-fault” doesn’t mean “no fault at all.”
It means “no-fault for purposes of your first $10,000 of medical expenses, but then absolutely someone’s fault, and that someone should be held accountable for the damages his/her negligence has caused, so you should contact Luhrsen Goldberg Law Powered by Women® if you are the victim of someone’s negligence.”