If you have been injured in a New Port Richey or Tampa Bay Car area automobile accident, you may have wondered: “What is the state minimum in liability coverage required by law?” This article addresses some of these questions.
Florida Law Does Not Have Mandatory Bodily Injury Liability Requirements
Unfortunately, Florida is a state that does not require bodily injury liability coverage in most instances. Bodily injury liability coverage is that coverage found on automobile insurance policies that will cover the at-fault vehicle’s owner or driver for damages caused to others because of a car accident. Many states outside of Florida require that their drivers carry bodily injury coverage. For example, every driver in New York must carry a minimum of $25,000 per injured person, up to $50,000 maximum per accident.
The Importance of Bodily Injury Coverage if You Cause a New Port Richey or Other Florida Car Crash
As a New Port Richey auto accident attorney with over 26 years of experience, I can tell you that having bodily injury liability coverage is vitally important. If you or anyone using your car causes an auto accident that results in personal injuries to others, then without sufficient bodily injury liability coverage you could be personally liable for compensating the injured persons from your own assets. Florida bodily injury liability coverage not only provides a source of revenue to cover damages caused by automobile negligence, but it also requires the insurance company to pay for your legal defense if you are sued as a result of injuring others.
Deciding on the Amount of Bodily Injury Coverage to Carry
The amount of bodily injury coverage you should carry depends on several things. While some might advise that you should only carry higher limits of Florida bodily injury coverage if you have significant assets to protect, I do not entirely agree with this logic. The amount of Florida bodily injury coverage you purchase is also tied to the issue of how much you want to protect your ability to collect through an uninsured motorist driver’s negligence. In Florida, you cannot purchase greater uninsured motorist coverage than bodily injury liability coverage. Therefore, if you want to assure yourself that you will be able to potentially collect at least $100,000.00 from an uninsured or underinsured motorist, then you must purchase at least $100,000.00 in bodily injury liability coverage. That said, the more assets you have to protect, it is true that the more bodily injury liability coverage you should carry.
The Importance of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Equally important is the need to carry Florida uninsured motorist coverage. As I’ve told countless people who have come to my New Port Richey office for car accident-related injuries, “It is more important to have uninsured motorist coverage in Florida than most other states.” The reason for this advice is that persons injured in a New Port Richey, Florida accident may not be able to collect from the negligent party because, as stated above, liability coverage is not required. Florida uninsured motorist coverage will protect you and your loved ones if you are injured by the automobile negligence of a third person without the optional Florida bodily injury liability coverage.
Will Your Firm Review My Auto Policy to See if I Have the Right Coverage?
It’s a good thing to have a New Port Richey Personal Injury Attorney review your automobile policy before you’re in a car accident. We are happy to do that without cost and will explain the coverages that you carry. We can make suggestions for you so you can decide the right amount of coverage for you.
How Come State Law Does Not Require Bodily Injury Coverage?
Well, that’s a good question. I especially get this question from retirees who have moved here from other states and assumed that they were protected if they were injured in a New Port Richey automobile accident. Florida currently has pretty much the same “no-fault” law that it has had for decades, and it has not even been adjusted for inflation. It’s a bad law, and the Florida Legislature attempted to change it in 2021 by passing a bill that would require bodily injury coverage for all motorists involved in a New Port Richey car accident and elsewhere in Florida. For reasons unknown, the Governor vetoed that bill.
I’ve Already Been Involved in a Car Accident. Is it too late?
The first thing we do when a new client hires us for their car accident injuries is obtain what’s called “policy declarations” (as well as the policy) to evaluate the coverages available. Many times, regardless of state minimums, there is ample coverage. We let our clients know within a week exactly how much bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage is available. It is important to know this early since our goal is always to put as much compensation in the client’s pocket as possible.
Does Florida Law Require Bodily Injury Coverage?
In most instances, the answer is “no,” making Florida one of the very few states that do not require bodily injury coverage if you’re in an auto accident in New Port Richey or other Florida cities. There may be consequences for not carrying bodily injury coverage if your auto negligence injuries someone, but most people can be “legal” and driving with no bodily injury coverage. I would strongly encourage everyone to purchase as much bodily injury coverage as possible, if for no other reason that you qualify to purchase uninsured motorist coverage up to the same amount. Also, it will save you a lot of stress in the event you cause a car crash and wind up being sued.
How Much Bodily Injury Coverage Do I Need?
Although Florida is one of the very few states that does not always require bodily injury coverage, you should have it. As for the amount, this will vary from person to person. If you have considerable assets, you’ll want to carry a considerable amount to protect those assets in the event that your driving causes a crash and injures others. Many people with assets will carry an underlying amount of $250,000 per person and purchase an umbrella policy with an excess amount of top of that of $1,000,000.00. Even if you have zero to little assets, it’s still advisable to carry as much bodily injury liability as possible, because the more bodily injury coverage you carry, the more uninsured motorist coverage you can purchase. You can only purchase uninsured motorist coverage up to but not greater than the amount of bodily injury coverage.
What Does Bodily Injury Coverage Typically Cover?
In the event you cause a Florida automobile accident and cause injuries or death to others, it will cover:
– Your cost of a legal defense if sued;
– Medical Expenses of the people you injured;
– Loss of income or earning capacity to those you’ve injured;
– Pain and Suffering to those you’ve injured; and/or
– Funeral costs.
What Happens if I Don’t Have Bodily Injury Coverage in Florida?
If you do not carry bodily injury coverage and hurt someone in a New Port Richey car accident (or other Florida city), you will be personally responsible to cover their medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of earnings.
Does Every Driver Need to be Insured in Florida?
Yes, every driver must be insured in Florida. Or, more accurately, every vehicle owner must be insured and provide coverage for anyone using his or her car. Unfortunately, only personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage coverage are mandatory in most instances.
What’s the difference between Personal Injury Protection and Bodily Injury Coverage in Florida?
Personal Injury Coverage, or PIP, is different from bodily injury coverage. PIP is “no-fault” and requires that your own insurer pays for up to 80% of your medical bills, normally capped at $10,000.00. It can also be used towards wage loss. Bodily Injury Protection is not “no-fault” and protects anyone you injure in an automobile accident due to your negligence while driving.
Will My Florida Registered Car Cover Me If I am Travelling into Another State?
Generally speaking, yes, you will be covered. However, there may be exclusions in the policy language with some policies offering full protection and others not as much. If you are planning a move out of Florida you should change your policy to your new state as soon as possible.
Is Uninsured Motorist Mandatory in Florida?
No, sadly it is not. One of the toughest things to do is call a new seriously injured client and have to tell him or her that the at-fault motorist has poor (or no) bodily injury coverage, and the client has little to no uninsured motorist coverage. If you have no uninsured motorist coverage, you might get lucky if you’re hit by an at-fault driver with sufficient bodily injury coverage. Sadly, that is typically not the case, and why I advise everyone to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can afford.