Being involved in a severe traffic accident carries a number of consequences: injury, damage to your vehicle, physical recovery, and the bills that come with all of those things. If you’re at fault, there are often additional consequences, like fines and points on your license. But one of the things that’s probably on the back of your mind is whether or not you can be personally sued. The answer is that in the state of Florida, it’s possible.
How Your Insurance Works
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to insurance claims. What that means is that each driver’s own insurance company pays for their damages. While that may come as some relief to you, many people only carry the minimum coverage, which is $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL).
Someone with these minimum coverages has $10,000 per person (passengers are covered by the owner’s policy). The PDL protection covers other property, but not your car. Collision insurance covers damage to your own vehicle, but it’s not required under Florida law.
What happens if injuries cost more Than $10k?
The answer to this question has a great deal to do with the coverage carried by both drivers. Consider a driver who was injured in a rear-end car accident. This is a common type of crash in the state of Florida, is almost always considered the rear-vehicle driver’s fault, and is a common source of whiplash injuries for the driver in the lead car.
Assuming that the driver in the lead car has the minimum coverage and there are no passengers (for simplicity), the injured driver’s insurance would pay up to the maximum of the policy, which is $10k if they have the minimum coverage.
That may seem like a lot, but to make a full financial recovery, the driver will need to collect reimbursement for medical bills, physical therapy, and lost wages. Those numbers can add up quickly and surpass the $10k.
Bodily Liability Insurance (BIL) is a type of insurance that covers other drivers if you injure them in an accident. While it is not required by law, it does protect the at-fault driver, should the not-at-fault driver exceed the limits of their own insurance. Vehicle owners are recommended to carry this type of insurance even though the state of Florida doesn’t require it.
Where Your Personal Liability Begins
You can be personally sued if the damages to the other party exceed the amount of the combined insurance policy coverage. So, if the other driver has the minimum coverage of $10,000 PIP and you have $50,000 in BIL, but their total damages are $75,000, you can be sued for the $15,000 difference plus legal expenses.
Because Florida is a comparative liability state, your responsibility may be reduced if the other party was partially at fault. One of the best things that you can do to protect yourself from personal liability is to carry a $100k/$300k BIL policy. That protects you for $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident.
If you’ve been injured get connected to car accident lawyers by the 1-800-Injured attorney referral network.