Our Accident Lawyers Break Down Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law
We often get calls from clients that have recently been injured and had their car damaged in a car accident. One of the initial questions they have is what Florida law requires owners of motor vehicles to be financially responsible for damages or injuries they cause? The prevailing thought would be that the at fault driver is responsible for all damages and injuries, but is that really the case? To answer the question, you must examine the different Florida car accident laws that apply.
The starting point is Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law which requires owners and operators of a motor vehicle to have two types of insurance:
- Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP)
- Property Damage insurance of no less than $10,000
PIP insurance covers your medical bills if you are injured in a Florida car accident. The minimum amount of PIP coverage that can be sold is $10,000. Most people think the at fault driver’s insurance should cover your medical bills, but that is not the law in Florida. If you are injured in a car accident, the first $10,000 of your medical bills is covered by your own PIP coverage.
Another misconception by Florida drivers is property damage coverage covers damage to your own vehicle if you are hit by someone else. That is not accurate. The minimum required property damage in Florida covers damage to another person’s car if you cause an accident and their vehicle is damaged. To have insurance coverage to cover damage to your own vehicle, you must purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage covers your car if it is hit by another car, or you hit something with your car. Comprehensive coverage covers your car if it is vandalized, suffers storm damage, or the vehicle catches on fire.
Accidents with Uninsured Drivers in South Florida
So, what happens if another person causes an accident with you and damages your car, but doesn’t have insurance? Florida’s Financial Responsibility law will kick in and require the at fault driver to pay for your damages, even if they don’t have insurance coverage. The problem lies in actually recovering money for your damages if there is no insurance coverage. There is usually a financial reason a person does not carry the required minimum insurance coverage.
Now, you’ve got your property damage covered by the at fault driver’s insurance, and you medical bills are covered by your PIP coverage, but who is responsible for your pain and suffering, and any medical bills that are not covered by your PIP coverage? Unfortunately, in Florida there is no requirement that another driver carry bodily injury liability coverage. Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina all make it mandatory for an owner or driver of a vehicle to carry bodily injury coverage, as do many other states.
Bodily injury liability (“BI”) coverage is the type insurance coverage that will cover future medical bills not covered by PIP, pain and suffering, and lost wages not covered by PIP. Some of the more well-known car insurance companies in Florida such as State Farm and Allstate usually have BI liability insurance coverage on their polices. But there are many insurance companies in Florida that usually do not have BI liability coverage.
Insurance coverages in Florida for car accidents can get very complicated. The attorneys at the Maus Law Firm have decades of experience in finding and evaluating insurance coverage that may apply to your accident. For a free, no obligation evaluation of your car accident, please contact the Maus Law Firm.