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What Happens if I Get into a Car Accident without Insurance in Florida?

on  Car Accidents

If you get into a car accident without insurance in Florida, you may wonder if you can file a claim to collect compensation. Fortunately, you can! Florida allows all drivers the opportunity to file a personal injury claim against an at-fault driver even if they themselves do not carry car insurance. However, before you can file an injury claim, you must meet the criteria set forth by Florida law.

After a car accident, it is best to consult with an experienced Florida car accident lawyer immediately. Your attorney can help you understand your rights, responsibilities, and legal options. Even if you are not insured, you have legal rights. Our car accident attorneys can help you pursue the compensation and justice you deserve. 

What if You Are in an Auto Accident with No Car Insurance in Florida?

If you’re involved in a car accident without auto insurance in Florida, you might worry that you’ll be stuck paying for everything out-of-pocket. Fortunately, this is not the case. 

If you sustain minor injuries in the accident, the absence of auto insurance indeed means you’ll likely have to cover these expenses yourself. This can include costs from emergency room visits, follow-up treatments, and any medication required.

However, if you have medical insurance, it can significantly alleviate the financial burden. In the event of a car crash, your medical insurance can cover a substantial portion of your medical bills. It’s important to remember that you will still be responsible for any deductibles and copays as outlined in your medical insurance policy. Once these are paid, your medical insurance should take over and cover the remaining costs per the terms of your policy.

This coverage can be crucial in helping manage the financial impact of a car accident, particularly if you’re facing extensive medical treatments or ongoing care. It’s also important to note that medical insurance coverage can vary widely, so understanding the specifics of your policy is key. Some policies may have limitations or exclusions that could affect coverage in the event of a car accident.

What If My Car Accident Injuries are Catastrophic?

For severe or permanent injuries, like the loss of a limb, you may be able to file an injury claim against the other driver. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that each driver typically turns to their own insurance policy after a car accident to cover medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who caused the accident. Every motorist is required to carry this Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. 

But you don’t have insurance, so what can you do? Fortunately, even if you don’t have PIP insurance, you can step outside the no-fault system if your injuries are severe. However, you can only do so if you’re not the one who caused the accident. 

Florida follows the “modified comparative fault” principle in determining liability and compensation in car accidents and other personal injury cases. However, in Florida, if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, you are barred from recovering any damages in a lawsuit against the other parties involved.

If you are less than 50% to blame for the accident, you can step outside the no-fault system and pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault driver if your injuries meet a specific severity threshold. Your injuries must be considered permanent or result in scarring or disfigurement before you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Additionally, if the accident resulted in a fatality, the victim’s family might be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

It’s important to understand that even in a no-fault state like Florida, the option to file a personal injury lawsuit is not entirely off the table. However, the circumstances under which you can file such a claim are more limited than in states that do not follow the no-fault system. Consulting with an experienced Florida car accident lawyer is helpful in these situations. In such cases, your attorney can assist you in recovering compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. 

What If the Other Driver is Injured?

In Florida, if you are involved in a car accident, and the other driver sustains injuries, the dynamics of potential legal action depend largely on the assignment of fault. Under Florida’s modified comparative fault rules, if the other driver is less than 50% responsible for the accident, they retain the right to sue you for compensation. This means if they are deemed even 49% at fault, they can still pursue legal action against you to recover damages for their injuries, lost wages, and other related costs.

However, the likelihood of facing a lawsuit can be reduced if the other driver has uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This type of insurance protects when the at-fault driver is either uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance to cover all damages. It covers expenses like medical bills and property damage and can even extend to cover situations involving hit-and-run drivers. If the other driver has this coverage, their insurance may compensate them for their losses, thus potentially decreasing their need to pursue a lawsuit against you.

Despite these possibilities, seeking legal advice immediately following an accident is crucial, particularly if you are uninsured. An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can advise on how to document the accident best and manage any subsequent claims. They can also inform you about the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury claims, which generally limits the time you have to take legal action.

Driving without insurance in Florida is a significant risk. Not only does it increase the likelihood of financial and legal challenges in the event of an accident, but it also raises the probability of being sued. 

Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance in Florida

Florida’s car insurance requirements are essential for all vehicle owners and drivers in the state. If you’re currently without auto insurance, you must obtain coverage quickly. Not only does having insurance provide financial protection in the event of an accident, but driving without it also means you’ll face fines and penalties if you’re caught driving without it. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties, including fines and the potential suspension of your driving privileges.

  • Suspension of Driving Privileges: If caught driving without insurance in Florida, your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and license plate can all be suspended. To reinstate these, you’ll typically be required to provide proof of insurance and pay a reinstatement fee.
  • Reinstatement Fees: The cost of reinstating your driving privileges varies depending on the offense:
  • For a first offense, the fee is usually $150.
  • A second offense within three years can increase the fee to $250.
  • Subsequent offenses within three years can result in a $500 reinstatement fee.
  • Requirement to Carry Non-Standard Insurance: After a violation, you might need to carry a type of insurance called FR-44 for up to three years. This is similar to SR-22 insurance but with higher liability requirements, indicating a higher risk to insurers.
  • Financial Responsibility: If you are involved in an accident without insurance, you are personally liable for all damages. This can result in significant out-of-pocket expenses if you’re found at fault for the accident.
  • Vehicle Impoundment: In some cases, your vehicle can be impounded if you’re caught driving without insurance. Getting your vehicle back will typically involve paying impoundment fees and presenting proof of insurance.

Given these penalties, you should have at least the minimum required auto insurance coverage in Florida. Driving without insurance exposes you to financial and legal risks and can impact your driving privileges and insurance costs long-term.

Florida Car Insurance Requirements

Under Florida law, everyone must carry specific minimum coverage. The mandatory minimums for auto insurance in Florida are as follows:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This covers your medical expenses and lost wages in the event of an accident, regardless of who was at fault. The minimum required coverage amount is $10,000.
  • Property Damage Liability (PDL): This covers damage that you, as the driver or owner of the vehicle, might cause to someone else’s property in an accident. The minimum required coverage amount is also $10,000.

It’s important to note that these figures represent only the base level of required insurance. You may need more extensive coverage depending on your circumstances, such as how often and where you drive. For instance, if you frequently commute in high-traffic areas or have a newer vehicle, consider higher coverage limits or additional types of insurance.

Optional coverages include:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage: This protects you when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: This type of insurance covers damage to your vehicle from non-collision events, such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.
  • Collision Coverage: As the name suggests, this covers damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision, whether with another vehicle or an object like a tree or a pole.

Given the various risks and costs associated with driving, it’s advisable to evaluate your insurance needs carefully and consider opting for coverage beyond the state-mandated minimums. This ensures compliance with Florida’s laws and provides peace of mind and financial security while on the road.

Contact Our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys Today

If you or someone you love is in an accident and doesn’t have insurance, you need someone on your side to fight for you. You have rights under Florida law and can collect the compensation you need. Unfortunately, many accident survivors don’t realize that they have options even if they’re uninsured. 

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, we can help you explore all your legal options and get you the compensation you deserve. We offer free consultations so you can get the answers you need quickly – without delay. Call us today, and we’ll get to work for you! 

For help understanding how much your case should be worth and what your best path to compensation is, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. Our number is (305) 694-2676.