Florida’s personal injury laws have been criticized for years due to the lack of protection they offer individuals who are injured in a car accident. One Florida woman recently spoke out about her ordeal following a serious auto accident.
A reckless driver operating a pick-up truck crushed her car and she was airlifted to a trauma center, where she received two knee replacements, as well as a hip and wrist replacement.
At the time, her job offered health insurance, which paid for some of her medical bills, but it barely made a dent in the tens of thousands she faced in future medical bills. In most situations, injured parties in a car accident can pursue the at-fault driver for damages that are not covered by their own insurance. However, the driver who caused the accident did not have enough insurance coverage to pay for her injuries.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means injured individuals must first seek compensation from their own insurance coverage. If a person is injured, as in this case, and their injuries are so extensive that their insurance does not pay for all their recovery costs, the at-fault driver’s insurance can be used to claim the remaining damages. That is assuming the at-fault driver has adequate insurance coverage.
Florida is one of only two states that does not require drivers to carry insurance coverage that would pay for injuries or deaths caused to others from their own actions. This gap in coverage can put drivers at risk when traveling, especially if they are injured by someone who is uninsured or does not have enough insurance coverage.
Currently, one in three drivers on the road does not have insurance coverage, while one in two do not have bodily injury liability coverage. In this case, if the at-fault driver had bodily injury liability coverage, her injuries would have arguably been covered. It is for this reason that many personal injury experts are fighting for a change in the law and for mandatory bodily injury coverage. Forty-eight other states already have this in place.
Florida has been a no-fault insurance state requiring drivers carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage since the 1970s. The goal was to limit the number of personal injury lawsuits and to lower insurance premiums. However, this was not the result. On average, auto insurance in Florida costs $1,185.25 per year. The national average cost is $889.01. The average cost of car insurance in Florida is much higher than what most Americans pay.
Florida lawmakers intend to tackle this issue with the upcoming legislative session, possibly by requiring all drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $25,000 per individual, replacing the current PIP requirement. So far, legislation promoting these reforms have passed the house committee, although a much tougher battle is expected in the Senate. It is hoped that lawmakers will pass legislation that will help Florida auto accident victims avoid future outcomes like this.