Anyone wanting to register a four-wheeled motor vehicle in Florida must carry certain minimum amounts of car insurance coverage on that vehicle. And it's important to understand how the state's car insurance system works in case you're involved in a car accident:
Florida is one of around a dozen states that follow some version of a "no-fault" car insurance system. That means, after a car accident, your own insurance coverage (in Florida, it's called "personal injury protection" or "PIP" coverage) pays the medical bills and other financial losses of anyone covered under the policy (up to policy limits), regardless of who caused the accident. No-fault/PIP claims have limits when it comes to the kinds of losses that are covered, though. You can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages stemming from the accident.
In order to step outside of the no-fault system—so that it's possible to file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident, and so that "pain and suffering" and all other available non-economic losses are on the table—your injuries must meet the threshold set by state law (we'll look at Florida's "serious injury" threshold in the next section).
It's important to note that Florida's no-fault system does not apply to vehicle damage claims after a car accident. A liability claim for damage to (or total loss of) a vehicle can be made against the at-fault driver in Florida, with no limitations.
The PIP benefits of a Florida car insurance policy kick in regardless of who was at fault for the car accident, and PIP protections benefit more than just the policyholder. PIP coverage also applies to:
PIP coverage also protects the policyholder while he or she is a passenger in someone else's vehicle, and as a pedestrian or bicyclist if struck by a motor vehicle.
Under Florida law, a PIP claimant can receive:
Florida law requires that, in order to collect benefits for medical expenses when making a claim under PIP coverage, the claimant must have received initial medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
So, as long as you went to the emergency room, or saw your doctor, or otherwise received valid medical care of some kind in the first two weeks after the accident, you're entitled to receive payment for 80 percent of your reasonably-incurred medical expenses. Learn more about the importance of getting medical care after a car accident.
As mentioned above, in order to pursue a liability claim against the person who caused your car accident in Florida (and shed the limitations of no-fault), your car accident injuries must qualify as "serious" as that term is defined by state law. That means, you must have experienced at least one of the following as a result of the accident:
If your injuries meet this definition, you're not limited to making a PIP claim under your own policy. You can hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident via a third-party car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, and you can pursue compensation for all categories of non-economic losses, like pain and suffering (which, again, aren't available in a no-fault claim).
Now that you understand how no-fault car insurance works in Florida, let's look at the state's requirements for car insurance coverage.
In order to register and drive a four-wheeled motor vehicle in Florida, vehicle owners must carry:
Florida does not technically require drivers to carry liability coverage for bodily injury suffered by other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists in an accident caused by the policyholder.
We say liability coverage isn't "technically" required because, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, if you're found at fault for a car accident, you're issued a traffic violation in connection with the crash, and injuries were noted on the responding law enforcement officer's crash report, you must have full liability insurance coverage in effect at the time of the crash, or take a number of insurance-related steps to after the accident.
Bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage is readily available for any driver who wants to add it to their policy in Florida. Keep in mind that, if you are found responsible for causing a car accident that allows an injured person to step outside of no-fault and sue you, without BIL coverage, you'll find yourself personally responsible for that person's losses.
For more details on Florida's car insurance coverage requirements and options, check out the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "Florida Insurance Requirements" page.
If you've been in a car accident in Florida, especially if your injuries are significant, you might want to learn more about your options for recovering for the full spectrum of your losses. Learn more about how an attorney can help with your car accident case.