Are you involved in a car accident in Florida where you were not at fault and you don‘t have insurance? You may be concerned about how to proceed with your claim and what legal options might be available to you. This blog post will provide an overview of the process of filing a claim in Florida when you are not at fault and do not have insurance. We will discuss the importance of determining fault and the options available to you when filing a claim. We will also cover the potential costs associated with making a claim in Florida, as well as any potential consequences for not having insurance. Finally, we will provide tips and advice on how to protect yourself and your rights.
Florida’s No-Fault Law
Florida is a no-fault state, as per Florida Statute 627.7407, which means that individuals must initially file a claim with their own insurance company. However, in the case of more serious accidents, even a driver with the full amount of coverage may not have enough to cover all of their expenses. In this case, they would ideally file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
When an at-fault driver does not have car insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit in order to recover your losses. A personal injury lawyer can do this on your behalf. The courts in Florida will follow the comparative fault rule, as per Florida Statute 768.81, to determine liability.
What Does it Mean to Be at Fault?
Florida is a no-fault state. This means everyone involved will be required to have their insurance pay a portion. However, if a party involved is able to prove that the other one is more at fault they can file a claim to get the at-fault party’s insurance provider to pay for their damage. This can be hard to do without proof so make sure you get proof at the scene of the accident.
So what instance may you be at fault? If you:
- T-boned another car
- Rear-end someone else
- Were driving under the influence
- Got distracted by texting
- Fail to turn on headlights when it is dark
While these are some of the main reasons one may be considered at fault each situation is different and therefore you should consult with a lawyer immediately after an accident.
Legal Consequences for Driving Without Insurance in Florida
Although we can help you get compensation from the negligent defendant for your damages after a car accident, you might have legal penalties to deal with for driving without insurance. The good news is that driving without insurance is a minor traffic violation and not legally considered a crime. The bad news is that you might have to pay expensive fines in addition to the expenses related to the crash.
The amount of money you might have to pay in fines will depend on where the accident happened and your driving record. Fines might differ if you were driving without insurance on a state highway versus a local road. Our Florida car accident attorneys can review your citation and help you determine how to take care of any fines or other legal penalties. You will also face having your driver’s license and vehicle registration suspended until you can acquire auto insurance.
In some states, there are “no pay no play” rules prohibiting or restricting uninsured drivers from filing lawsuits even if another driver is to blame. Florida does not have “no pay no play” laws, and you can sue at-fault drivers even if you are uninsured. However, you must meet the criteria mentioned above for serious injuries and deal with the potential legal consequences of driving without insurance.
Consequences of causing Car Accident in Florida
Where you cause a car accident without insurance, you can face the following consequences:
- Lawsuit: The other driver involved in the accident can sue you for medical bills, damage to their car, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, future medical expenses, and, depending on the circumstances of the accident, for pain and suffering and/or wrongful death.
- Driver’s license and car registration suspension: Once the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles receives notification that you do not have car insurance, both your driver’s license and registration may be suspended for up to three years.
- Civil penalties: If your driver’s license and registration are suspended for failure to carry auto insurance, you’ll pay a reinstatement fee of $150 for the first violation. If you are involved in a subsequent accident and still have no insurance, the reinstatement fee goes up to $500.
If you were at fault infractions can remain on your license for anywhere from three to ten years.
If the Other Party Was at Fault:
Where the other party was at fault and didn’t have car insurance, you have several options:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Every car insurance policy in Florida is required to provide PIP coverage, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This means that, as long as you report the damages within 14 days from the date of the accident, your own insurance company will cover up to $10,000 in damages (up to 80% of medical bills and up to 60% of lost wages). You wouldn’t have to worry about your premium going up, since Florida Statutes establish that insurance companies cannot increase rates unless the insurer can make a good faith determination that the person driving your car was substantially at fault for the accident.
While PIP is required, uninsured/underinsured coverage is optional. If you opt to have it, it will cover injuries sustained by you, family members, passengers in your car, or anyone driving your car with your permission. In addition, it would cover future medical expenses as well as lost wages resulting from the accident. However, this type of coverage will not cover property damage to your motor vehicle.
File a lawsuit against the other driver
If your damages exceed the $10,000 provided by PIP, or if you want to recover the portions not included in Personal Injury Protection, you can sue the at-fault driver. However, even if you win with a judgment against the other driver, it can be an uphill battle to collect. While there are ways to enforce a judgment (such as placing liens or garnishing wages), if the person doesn’t have the means to pay, you could be stuck with the bill.
When Is a Driver Considered to Be at-Fault?
Usually, a driver who is considered to be at-fault in an accident will have acted negligently. If negligence can be established, you will be entitled to file a lawsuit against them.
Examples of such acts include:
Drunk driving (DUI)
Any person who is caught operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or above is breaking the law and will face serious legal consequences. If a drunk driver was responsible for your accident, they could be held accountable for your injuries.
Unfortunately, many car accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted from the road. Common examples include the use of a mobile phone, eating, and talking to passengers. A driver who causes an accident because they are not paying proper attention can be sued for negligence.
Fleeing the scene of an accident (hit and run)
All drivers in Florida are required by law to remain at the scene of an accident until law enforcement arrives and permits them to leave. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious crime. If you were in an accident with an uninsured driver who left the scene and did not render aid or pass on their information, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit against them.
According to Florida Statute 316.192, reckless driving is defined as “any person who drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Florida, and any driver who is accused of this crime can be held liable for any accidents and injuries they caused as a result.
Establishing liability in an accident is not always easy. In most cases, only an experienced personal injury lawyer can gather the necessary evidence to prove a claim. A car accident attorney from The Law Place can thoroughly investigate your case and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
What happens if you have no insurance but the other driver was at fault?
If you were in a car accident without insurance and are not at fault, contact an experienced attorney to see which option is right for you.
With the right attorney on your side, you may still be able to receive compensation for the accident. However, it all depends on the circumstances that stand around the collision and how your attorney navigates the case.
Tip: Keep in mind that if you were not at fault, diminished value claims may be an option for you.
Can I Get Insurance Coverage After My Car Accident?
If you get in an accident and do not have insurance you should purchase coverage as soon as you can. Once you buy your policy you then need to inform the insurance company that you were in an uninsured accident.
Then you will be issued an SR-22 or FR-44 which is a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. This proves that you have liability auto coverage and you are a high-risk driver. If you have any questions about this you should contact a lawyer to get advice on how to communicate with an insurance company so that you can make sure you are covered.
What if the Car I’m Driving is Insured?
If you are not insured but the car you are driving is, you may be covered. For example, if you got permission to drive someone else’s car and they insured it you may be covered under the owner’s insurance policy. Most auto insurance policies cover anyone in the primary household of the owner of the car
What Are the Consequences for Uninsured Drivers With the Florida DMV Following an Accident?
The DHSMV will suspend your driver’s license if you have an accident while you are uninsured, as well as your vehicle registration, plate, and tags unless you meet their requirements by a deadline they specify.
The DHSMV enforces insurance laws through their Bureau of Motorist Compliance (BMC). This agency deals with uninsured drivers who have accidents. If the other driver(s) involved in the accident pursue(s) legal action against you – and obtain a judgment against you for damages – the BMC can suspend your license for as long as 20 years, or until you satisfy the judgment by paying the damages.
To avoid this fate, you must forward your SR-22 to the BMC or your local DHSMV office by their deadline, along with the liability releases you obtained from each person involved in the accident.
How to Protect Yourself
When there is no insurance coverage for either or both parties involved in a crash, the financial implications can be difficult to overcome. Unfortunately, we live in a time where insurance is a must. Fortunately, we live in a time where there are many options for insurance coverage. Get good coverage, retain that coverage, and drive safely are the best bits of advice I can give you. That way, you will always know you are protected in the event someone else decides to operate their vehicle negligently. You cannot depend on others to carry the proper insurance to protect yourself in the event that you are involved in an accident.
If you are involved in an accident in Florida with or without insurance coverage, it is always the safest idea to contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Attorneys are professionals specifically trained to assist you in these and all other situations which may arise.
Will Not Having Insurance Prevent Me from Getting Compensation for a Florida Car Accident?
Drivers often wonder if being in an accident while uninsured will prevent them from getting compensation. While driving without insurance does not look good, it should not stop you from getting fair compensation if the other driver is the one who caused the crash. As long as you meet the criteria for serious injuries, you can file a lawsuit for damages. Our Florida car accident lawyers can help you hold the driver accountable and make them pay for the damages they caused.
Your lawsuit will be presented to a judge and possibly a jury of your peers. Although you are not the one who caused the accident, your insurance issue might come up. Driving without insurance may be perceived as reckless or irresponsible, which might be a red flag for the jury.
However, your lack of insurance is not why you are in court, and we can make sure the jury is instructed that they cannot use your lack of insurance against you when reaching a verdict. The ultimate issue of fault is not influenced by who did or did not have car insurance at the time of the accident.
What Damages Can I Claim for Following an Accident in Florida?
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be eligible to claim a wide range of economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages and future earnings.
- Pain and suffering.
- Property damage.
- Rehabilitation, for example, physical therapy.
Unfortunately, it is likely that your insurance company will not pay out in full for all of your losses, and if the other driver was uninsured, you would not have the option of filing a claim with their insurance company. Therefore, a filing lawsuit may be the only way forward.
When Should I Contact a Florida Auto Accident Attorney?
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver and are worried that you will not be compensated in full for your damages, you should waste no time in contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer who can tell you whether you have a valid claim during your free consultation.
A reputable car accident attorney can help you figure out exactly what steps you need to take to secure adequate compensation. They can get to work on investigating the accident scene, examining any police or witness reports, and speaking to your insurance company on your behalf if necessary.
How An Attorney Can Help In a No Insurance and No Fault Case
Despite the legal and financial difficulties of being in an accident without insurance, there are always options to receive compensation for damages and minimize legal penalties. Every accident and accident investigation is different and certain factors can affect both legal and financial liability. For example, insurance companies in Florida are required by law to offer optional coverage in the event of a crash involving an uninsured motorist. Because of this many motorists in Florida do have coverage protecting against underinsured and uninsured drivers.
A qualified and experienced attorney can help you understand your options, including how to obtain insurance coverage. Accident attorneys can also conduct a thorough investigation into the steps law enforcement and insurance companies have taken in your case to determine if you are being treated fairly under the law.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in a Car Accident?
You have four years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, according to Florida’s statute of limitations. This is to ensure that all legal actions are taken within a reasonable amount of time so that the evidence is still reliable.
Victims should note that lawsuits take time to build, and over time it can be harder to obtain credible evidence. Therefore, you should contact an attorney sooner rather than later.
What if the at-Fault Driver Cannot Pay My Damages?
Unfortunately, drivers who have not properly insured their vehicles are unlikely to have much money either. Usually, when they have failed to purchase motorist coverage, they are not simply negligent. They merely cannot set aside any money for the monthly payments. Therefore, many victims assume that it is not worth filing a lawsuit against them.
However, with the right lawyer on your side, you may have more options than you think when it comes to obtaining compensation after an accident with an uninsured driver. Judges sometimes insist that the defendant pays fees monthly to the victim who has incurred damages because of the accident.
Additionally, a car accident attorney can determine if the uninsured driver has any assets such as property, valuables, or investments. If the driver is found to be in possession of any of these assets, liquidation may be the way to obtain the payment you deserve.
Furthermore, there may be another party involved who may be liable for your injuries. For example, if the driver was driving a company car or a commercial truck, their employer could be held accountable for their lack of insurance.
What Is a No-Fault Car Insurance Claim?
If you live in a no-fault state, which Florida is, it is a good idea to have no-fault insurance covering your vehicles in case you are ever involved in an accident. No-fault car insurance means that if you were ever involved in an accident, it is your own insurer’s job to cover all or some out-of-pocket expenses even if it was your fault the accident happened.
No-fault car insurance can also be known as PIP (personal injury protection) and is mostly required in states that operate with no-fault rules. It’s important to note that no-fault car insurance is vastly different from collision insurance and normal insurance policies. For instance, no-fault does not cover theft of car damages from wrecks that leave your car damaged.