Proposed Changes to Florida’s Auto Insurance Law
It is no secret that all car owners are required to carry auto insurance policies to legally operate their vehicle in Florida, and that it is not uncommon to dispute the insurance coverage your company claims is applicable in the event of an accident. The purpose of car insurance is to provide the policyholder with financial protection in the event of an accident for damages and any assignment of liability. Policies typically cover property damage and injury to persons. Currently, auto insurance in Florida operates under a “no-fault” concept, referred to as personal injury protection (PIP), which means that, regardless of who is at fault for an accident, if you have this coverage, your insurance company will pay for your injuries and the injuries of all your passengers. The purpose of this kind of insurance system is to reduce the cost of insurance premiums by restricting the ability of someone injured in an accident to sue, which lowers litigation costs for insurance companies. Florida law requires all cars registered in the state to carry $10,000 in medical benefits, but according to a recent article in the Orlando Sentinel, state lawmakers are currently questioning whether this no-fault insurance is actually reducing costs to motorists and assessing the how exclusions on covered medical expenses used by insurance companies to deny coverage is impacting injured parties. Two lawmakers recently introduced bills that would get rid of PIP coverage and replace it with minimum property damage and bodily injury liability insurance coverage.
Repeal of Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Although it would not be effective until January 1, 2019, this bill would repeal all sections of Florida law that pertain to no-fault insurance, which would abolish the current limitations on a person’s ability to recover from the drivers, passengers or insurance companies for personal injuries sustained in an accident.
Current Limits on Recovery for Injury
Presently, the law limits the right of a person injured in an accident to recover for “pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience” if the car is covered by an insurance policy with PIP coverage. In order to receive personal injury damages based on a claim for negligent driving, the injured party must have one of the following types of injuries or conditions:
- significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- permanent injury determined by a medical probability, except for scarring or disfigurement;
- significant scarring or disfigurement; or
In addition, recovery for punitive damages from an insurance company is completely prohibited. Further, to make it even harder to bring a claim for a tort-related injury in car accidents, a defendant has the right to ask a court to review the evidence submitted by the plaintiff to see if the plaintiff has a reasonable chance of showing he/she has one of the serious injuries listed above. If not, the judge can dismiss the case before a trial ever starts, and the plaintiff would be forced to start the legal process over again.
If you have a dispute with an insurance company after suffering injuries in a car accident, it is imperative to seek out legal representation from an lawyer to ensure you fully explore all your legal options for recovery of damages. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado brings experience with both insurance coverage disputes and personal injury cases, so they can fully address your needs in car accident cases. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.