On April 18, 2017, the Florida House of Representatives voted to pass HB1063 which allows the bill to go on to the Florida Senate for debate. HB1063 repeals no-fault insurance in Florida as we have known it since the 1970’s when no-fault insurance for car accidents first began. HB1063, if it becomes law, ,will replace Florida’s no-fault insurance system with a requirement that all driver’s carry insurance coverage for bodily injury liability. This is potentially a major shift in the way that automobile accident cases are evaluated in Florida.
Coverages And Background
Before getting into the changes that HB1063 makes, it is important to recap the types of car insurance involved and what each coverage does.
First things first, at present Florida does not require drivers to purchase insurance to pay for injuries or deaths that they cause to other people. This is called “bodily injury liability” insurance. When you cause an accident and someone files a lawsuit against you, the settlement that is made to the injured party is paid from bodily injury liability coverage on your insurance policy. HB1063 seeks to make bodily injury liability coverage mandatory.
Secondly, no-fault insurance (or “Personal-Injury-Protection”) is the “$10,000” that you hear ASK GARY and 411 PAIN talking about in their commercials. It pays up to that amount for medical expenses (and lost wages if you did not exclude it) regardless of fault. In recent years, no-fault insurance (PIP) has been the subject of widespread fraud and suspicion of abuse from large, volume-oriented “car accident clinics” that make their money by rapidly billing and collecting PIP insurance in exchange for questionable medical treatments.
Under a no-fault system, the tortfeasor (or person who caused the accident) gets a setoff or credit against anything that they have to pay because of no-fault insurance. Under a pure liability system, there is no such thing.
What Does HB1063 Seek To Change?
HB1063, if it passes the Florida Senate without further change, will eliminate PIP in Florida and will change Florida’s financial responsibility laws to require every driver to carry minimum insurance limits of:
- Bodily Injury Liability $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident; and
- Property Damage Liability $10,000 per accident; or
- Self-Insurance Certificate of $60,000
Going to a liability based system for car accidents rather than a no-fault system will allow insurance companies to place all injury claims under greater scrutiny than with no-fault insurance (there was a time limit for insurance companies to pay no-fault benefits before interest accrued).
Overall, mandatory bodily injury for Florida is likely to be a good thing because it should mean more money for legitimate car accident claims while reducing or eliminating illegitimate claims. The reason for this is because each claimant in a car accident must be prepared to prove liability in addition to their injury damages in a court of law in order to receive payment. Claims that are not legitimate are not likely to be brought with higher scrutiny.
The other takeaway from this movement is that insurance companies must now believe that they will profit more under a mandatory liability system even if the policy limits go up on each claim. From a trial lawyer’s perspective, the insurance companies are likely going to want to fight more claims (to reduce the overall payout per accident) should this bill pass in addition to just saving money on fraudulent claims.
What Does Mandatory Bodily Injury Mean For The Public?
Many people forget that insurance companies are in business to make a profit despite their claims to be benevolent neighbors or helping hands. While an insurance policy may have a policy limit of $25,000 per claim, the insurance company is free to spend more than that amount to defend it. This means that it is possible for an insurance company to spend $35,000 on lawyers to defend a $25,000 policy (whether they have to pay the $25,000 is up to a jury). Therefore, the public will likely see a rise in overall automobile accident litigation as claims are disputed as a result of this bill and higher profits sought. This, of course, raises the stakes for everyone.
Call A Lakeland Personal Injury Attorney For Help With Your Case
If you have been injured in a car accident in Lakeland, Florida and have a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, you should contact a Lakeland personal injury attorney for help with your case. You will likely need the assistance of an attorney to get full value from your claim and to make sure that you are collecting from all of the responsible insurance policies.