Florida no-fault car insurance law isn’t going anywhere, at least this year. For motorists, that means continued reliance on personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and proof of serious injury before pursuing a fault-based car accident claim against negligent drivers.
Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed the bipartisan Senate Bill 54, passed by state lawmakers in April. The bill would have rewritten our unique, no-fault state car insurance law and required drivers to obtain new policies by next year.
In a short statement released by the governor’s office, DeSantis, while calling the current law “flawed,” explained he felt the bill failed to adequately address issues faced by Florida drivers and could have adverse, unintended consequences for both consumers and the market.
The veto was a bit of a surprise, given that the bill had strong bipartisan support, passing with little debate several months ago. Supporters insisted it would reduce auto insurance premiums in a state that consistently ranks within the top five. However, analysis of potential impacts yielded mixed results. Plus, the insurance industry and medical providers came out swinging hard against it.
What Does Florida No-Fault Car Insurance Mean for Motorists?
The effect of the veto is that nothing really changes for Florida drivers, at least not this legislative term. No-fault auto insurance remains in place.
Florida is one of the few states that continues its use of no-fault car insurance, as opposed to a system of fault recognized by many states. Contrary to what some presume by its name, no-fault insurance doesn’t mean no-fault is assigned in the crash. It just means the coverage pays certain damages incurred by insureds upfront, regardless of who was at-fault.
The general idea of no-fault, which was adopted by the state in the 1970s, is that civil court systems won’t be clogged with a glut of car accident litigation for relatively minor injuries. Instead, motorists purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP covers up to $10,000 in medical and funeral costs – and they don’t have to prove the other driver was in the wrong to collect. If one’s car accident damages exceed that amount, they must meet the serious injury threshold (as outlined in F.S. 627.737) to pursue a negligence claim against the at-fault driver or other third parties.
Many say the no-fault system is riddled with fraud, though it should be noted at least part of the problem is the fight PIP insurers sometimes put up to prevent their insureds from collecting. Further, those with health insurance find PIP plans to be redundant and unnecessary.
Plus, while Florida isn’t entirely unique in requiring PIP, it is just one of two states to do so without also mandating bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury liability holds the driver who caused the crash responsible for it. One must prove the at-fault driver’s negligence to collect from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability policy. Lots of Florida drivers do carry bodily injury coverage anyway (lest they be held personally responsible for crash damages), but it isn’t required by law. However, any driver who has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (paid to the injured party when the at-fault driver isn’t insured or doesn’t carry enough insurance to cover losses) must also have at least that much in bodily injury liability coverage.
It should be noted that in Florida, even if you are partially at-fault for causing a crash, you can still collect damages from other at-fault parties, proportionate to their degree of responsibility. For example, if you are deemed 30 percent at-fault and the other driver 70 percent, the other driver would be responsible to pay 70 percent of your total damages. This is known as pure comparative fault.
As an experienced Naples car accident attorney, my commitment to our clients is one that entails pursuing full and fair compensation for them from carriers of PIP, bodily injury liability, commercial liability, UM/UIM, umbrella policies and more. We continue to closely follow legislative developments as it pertains to Florida’s no-fault car insurance, and anticipate this isn’t likely to be the last showdown on this front.
If you are injured in a car accident in Naples, Fort Myers or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free initial consultation.
DeSantis vetoes auto insurance overhaul bill, June 30, 2021, By Lawrence Mower, Tampa Bay Tribune
More Blog Entries:
Florida Car Accident Rules to Change, Barring Governor Veto, May 24, 2021, Naples Car Accident Attorney Blog