Question

How does fault matter in a Florida auto accident?

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Bernard F. Walsh - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Bernard F. Walsh

Located in Bradenton, FLGoldman Babboni Fernandez & Walsh

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Answer

Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, but the fair attribution of fault after an auto accident can still make a big difference to your recovery.

The confusion often owes to the role that personal injury protection (PIP), or “no-fault” insurance, plays after an accident.

How no-fault insurance works in Florida

PIP is a type of car insurance meant to cover the cost of medical treatment for you and your passengers. PIP also covers lost wages if your injuries render you unable to work. Because PIP is a no-fault insurance, it is distributed based on who is hurt, rather than who is at fault for the accident.

Florida requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 of PIP, though you have the option to carry more. After an accident, the PIP claims are made against your insurance company. Your insurance then pays 80% of your medical bills and 60% of any eligible lost wages up to the $10,000 or whatever amount you carry. However, once your PIP coverage is used up, any additional costs will need to be recovered elsewhere.

When you have used up all your PIP benefits, then your health insurance company will take over and start paying. You will have the cost of the co-pays, your deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. If you are disabled as a result of the accident, you may also qualify for coverage under Medicare.

Why fault matters

PIP only covers injuries and lost wages up to a set amount, but auto accidents may lead to additional damages. When you look to recover these additional costs, fault matters.

Auto accidents aren't always black and white. Sometimes both parties can be partially at fault for a single vehicle accident. This means you may still have a case for the injuries you suffered as the result of an accident, even if law enforcement indicates that you are partially at fault. Because Florida follows the rules for comparative negligence, a jury can award a portion of fault to any of the vehicles involved.

So, if there are two parties involved in an accident and each is 50% at fault, each individual can make a claim for 50% of their total damages against the other party or insurance company. For example, imagine the accident leaves you with $10,000 in total damages. If you're 50% at fault, you can make a claim for $5,000 against the other party or insurance company.

It is possible to avoid being assigned an undue measure of fault

If you're in an auto accident and deemed at fault, you may receive a citation from law enforcement. Insurance companies often view such citations as a reason to hold you more at fault. Know your rights; talk to an attorney right away. In most jurisdictions, you have 30 days to contest the citation.

If you do contest the citation, you're going to go in front of a local judge who will then ultimately decide whether the citation should stick or not.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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