Bills Repealing Florida’s No Fault System
UPDATE: State Bill 54 was vetoed by the Governor on June 29, 2021. The Florida Senate actions and bill history related to SB 54 can be seen here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/54.
Florida is currently one of only 11 states across the country that chooses to follow no-fault insurance guidelines instead of a tort (or at-fault) system. But that could change soon. The Florida legislature has sent Senate Bill (SB) 54 to Governor Ron DeSantis. This bill aims to eliminate Florida’s no-fault insurance system.
Since Florida has a long history as a no-fault state, many individuals have questions about how this bill could affect their rights following a car accident. Here, car accident lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau help drivers in Daytona Beach, FL, Palm Coast, FL, and across the state better understand SB 54 and what it could mean in terms of insurance and personal injury lawsuits for car accident damages.
No-fault Insurance System and PIP Insurance
Before going into proposed changes under SB 54, let us briefly explain Florida’s current no-fault status. In a no-fault state, drivers have insurance to cover their own injuries and damages in a car accident. Regardless of who is at-fault for the accident, injury damages are covered by each driver’s individual Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Florida currently requires that drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage.
What Is Senate Bill 54?
Senate Bill 54 was sent to Governor DeSantis on June 28, 2021, and has garnered a lot of attention. It has wide support from state lawmakers, but also has faced significant scrutiny, especially among insurers.
SB 54 proposes to repeal the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance program, thus eliminating the state’s no-fault system. Under bill guidelines, PIP insurance would be eliminated and drivers would instead be required to carry $25,000 of bodily injury coverage. The bill also carries the option of a $5,000 medical payment coverage death benefit.
Governor DeSantis has seven days to sign or veto SB 54. If he chooses to do nothing within the seven days, the bill will automatically be adopted. If adopted, SB 54 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
Insurance Changes Under SB 54
If SB 54 is signed into law, the no-fault system would be repealed. Instead, when a car accident occurs, insurers would have to determine who was at-fault for the collision. At-fault parties would be liable for accident-related damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Proponents to SB 54 argue that repealing the no-fault system will raise insurance rates. While supporters say that insurance rates could actually decrease, rates are statistically higher in states that follow the tort system, so drivers should expect to see changes in insurance premiums.
Lawsuit Changes Under SB 54
Personal injury lawsuits could be greatly affected by SB 54. Under the no-fault system drivers are greatly limited as to when a personal injury lawsuit can be filed following a car accident, and the types of damages that can be recovered.
Repealing Florida’s no-fault system would lift restrictions for auto accident-related lawsuits. In tort, or at-fault insurance states, car accident victims can sue for the full extent of accident damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be due financial compensation for related damages. To explore your right to file a personal injury lawsuit, schedule a consultation with the lawyers at Chanfrau & Chanfrau. To get started, send us a message online, or call our Daytona Beach law firm at (386) 258-7313.