Florida's auto insurance rules can be complicated, but you need to understand those rules so you know what to do after an auto accident happens. Your rights and your ability to recover compensation following a collision will be determined based on many factors, including what kinds of insurance coverage you purchased. If you are involved in a crash with a driver who does not have the required minimum insurance coverage, you also need to know what your options are.
If you are involved in an automobile accident in Florida, you could recover from either your own insurer or the other driver's insurer, depending upon what kind of damages you sustained and who was at fault.
However, things get even trickier if the driver who should be compensating you for your losses cannot do so because of insufficient insurance coverage. Following a collision, rules for recovering compensation from an insurer include the following:
- If you were at fault: It does not matter if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured. Your insurer will pay for the other driver's property damage, up to your liability coverage limits. You could be forced to pay for property damage in excess of what your insurance covers. You're required by law to buy $10,000 minimum in property damage liability coverage to pay for the harm you do to the other driver's car. Your own losses will also be covered by your insurer, up to policy limits. You must have $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and this will pay for medical bills and partial lost wages after an injury, regardless of who caused the crash. If you have optional collision coverage, your insurer will also pay for your property damage.
- If the other driver was at fault but had insurance: You will still make a claim under your own PIP coverage if your injury wasn't a severe one. The other driver should pay for property damage. If your injuries were serious, then you could pursue a claim against the driver who hurt you. If that driver purchased sufficient bodily injury liability coverage (which is optional in Florida), his insurance would pay for your economic and non-financial damages resulting from your injury.
- If the other driver was at fault with insufficient insurance: Your PIP coverage would still pay for minor injuries. For more serious injuries and property damage, you could try to pursue a case against the at fault driver to get whatever is available through his insurance and to try to collect from that driver's personal assets if you could get a judgment against him. If you have optional uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can make a claim with your insurer to pay for the losses that should have been paid by the at-fault driver if he had sufficient insurance to cover damages.
An experienced attorney can help you to determine exactly who is at fault and what your options are for getting car accident losses paid for.