Florida lawmakers are looking to ditch the decades-old no-fault car insurance law that has dictated personal injury recovery from crashes since the 1970s. As our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, the new law, if signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will do away with requirements to purchase no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and instead require bodily injury liability coverage. Ultimately, this will fundamentally change the way we pursue damages in Florida car accident cases.
Both the Florida House and Senate signed off on SB 54, a bill subject to substantial back-and-forth to close out the end of this legislative session.
Current law requires all vehicle owners to purchase PIP that covers $10,000 for their own medical, disability and funeral expenses if they’re hurt in a crash – regardless of fault. But as any Florida car accident attorney will tell you, $10,000 isn’t nearly enough to cover healthcare costs after most accidents. (The amount hasn’t changed since 1979.) Besides that, only $2,500 is available if injuries don’t require emergency treatment. Furthermore, PIP isn’t always as easy to obtain as it should be, and many injured motorists need assistance from an attorney to ensure they’re fairly compensated. The only way to step outside the no-fault system and pursue compensation from the at-fault driver is if one’s injuries meet or exceed the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 626.737.
Under current law, bodily injury liability coverage isn’t required, though Florida’s financial responsibility law requires motorists be able to provide at least $20,000 in bodily injury liability or wrongful death damages. A fair number of drivers do carry it anyway, so not much may change for them.
If DeSantis signs SB 54, motorists would be required to purchase a minimum $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident in bodily injury liability coverage. Although PIP would no longer be mandatory, insurers would be required to offer optional med-pay plans of $5,000 and $10,000 without a deductible.
Although some drivers may not mind carrying the small minimum level of insurance, there is always the risk is they could be sued personally if the expenses of those injured in a crash they caused exceed that amount. One in four drivers doesn’t maintain any insurance. These issues have caused many motorists to rely on uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Said one lawmaker of the new bill: “You may not like every bit of this bill, but Florida’s got to do something about their car insurance.”
Gov. DeSantis has not yet indicated his position on the law.
Those opposed to the bill (primarily insurance industry advocates) say it will result in more Floridians being without car insurance because it will require additional coverage that people can’t afford in a state where rates are already sky-high. Yet the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation concluded just a few years ago that a shift to bodily injury coverage would result in a 6 percent savings for the average driver.
Whether costs will go up or down will likely depend on what kind of insurance you already have. If you already maintain some form of bodily injury liability coverage, your bill will probably be reduced because you’ll no longer need PIP. However if you weren’t maintaining bodily injury liability before, your bill may go up slightly. The trade-off is you’re less likely to be personally sued because your insurance may cover the full extent of the damages.
Ultimately, this bill would allow those injured in car accidents to collect damages from the insurers of those responsible.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Should you care if no-fault auto insurance gets repealed? April 19, 2021, By Ron Hurtibise, Sun-Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers on Handling Crashes With Uninsured Drivers, Feb. 1, 2021, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog