Florida’s auto insurance and personal injury laws are complex. If you are a driver in Miami, you should prepare for anything, including getting sued for a car accident.
Here is a guide regarding what happens if you are sued after a car accident in Florida and the steps to take.
Notify Your Insurance Company Immediately if You Receive a Demand Letter or Notice of a Lawsuit for a Car Accident
The other driver, their lawyer, and/or insurance company will usually send a demand letter before filing a third-party insurance claim or car accident lawsuit against you.
After receiving a demand letter or lawsuit, the first thing you should do is notify your insurance company as soon as possible.
Do so even if you are unsure about whether the demands are fair or if you are truly responsible for the amount of damages being claimed. This way, your insurance company cannot waive its duties to defend and indemnify you in a lawsuit later down the line.
What Are Florida’s Auto Insurance Requirements?
To fully understand your liability after a car accident, it’s important to understand Florida’s car insurance requirements. Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents. This means that each driver must first go through their own insurance company to recover damages – no matter who is at fault for the accident.
All drivers with a four-wheeled vehicle registered in Florida must carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance plus an additional $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance.
PIP covers up to 80% of your necessary medical expenses and up to 60% of your lost wages. It applies to you, relatives that live in your home, some passengers who don’t own a vehicle, and those who drive your car with permission. PDL covers damages to another’s property caused by you in an accident.
Exceptions to Florida’s No-Fault System for Car Accidents
While not generally required in Florida, you may also have bodily injury liability coverage. This insurance covers serious injuries to others if you are at fault for a car accident. However, this is fault-based insurance, unlike PIP insurance.
An injured driver can file a third-party insurance claim or a car accident lawsuit against you if you were at fault and the accident caused a “serious injury.”
Florida law defines a “serious injury” as experiencing at least one of the following as a result of an accident:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury, within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Some drivers may claim that they suffered serious injuries due to a car accident to sue you for pain and suffering damages – which can yield very high amounts of money. However, the claims and facts don’t always add up in every case. They must prove that you were responsible for the accident, usually by demonstrating that your actions were negligent.
If you are being sued, it is best not to panic and hire an experienced Miami car accident lawyer to help you avoid unnecessary liability after causing a collision.
Your Liability Insurance Company Must Defend and Indemnify You
As previously mentioned, you may have optional liability insurance, which covers others if you are at fault for an accident. If you are sued for a car accident, your liability insurance company must provide you with a legal defense and indemnify you. This means they must pay a portion of the amount you are liable for up to the amount of your policy limits.
This can save you an immense amount of legal costs and personal liability. However, you are personally responsible for paying any amount over your insurance policy limits.
Ask a Miami Car Accident Attorney for Help if You Are Sued After Causing a Collision
You may be able to handle insurance claims on your own. However, it’s always best to consult an experienced car accident attorney to discuss the claim and protect your legal rights. Even if you are at fault, other parties may share blame for the accident, which can limit your liability.