Regardless of how long you’ve been a licensed driver in Florida, car insurance is one aspect of driving that tends to confuse people of all ages. It can be tricky figuring out how much coverage you actually need as well as what Florida’s no-fault laws mean for your car accident claim. At varying times, you may find yourself needing more liability protection depending on the type of vehicle you drive and where you choose to live. Factoring in all the types of coverage options available, there’s a lot to consider and some fine-tuning involved to achieve the best coverage for you.
Because South Florida is essentially a hot zone for traffic congestion and seasonal car accident risks, it’s important for drivers to familiarize themselves with Florida accident laws. One question that the car accident lawyers at Porcaro Law Group constantly get asked — “Does insurance follow the car or driver in Florida?”. We have the answer below and it may actually surprise you!
Is my car insured if someone else was driving?
Yes! In accordance with Florida Statutes, auto insurance primarily follows the car and not the driver. This means, your vehicle is protected under your existing insurance policy regardless of who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. To illustrate, if you let a friend borrow your vehicle for a few hours and he/she ends up in a collision, the damages to your vehicle fall under your insurance policy. Of course, there are few stipulations that can influence your coverage in the event of an accident:
- If you gave permission to driver of your vehicle
- If you carry the state minimum liability coverage
- The level of coverage included in your policy
- The extent of damages or injuries resulting from the crash
As a Florida driver, by law you must carry the minimum coverage of personal injury protection and property damage liability if you own a motor vehicle. Because the vehicle’s owner is ultimately held responsible for covering damages in the crash, it’s imperative to have proper coverage before loaning out your vehicle to other drivers. In the likelihood of an accident, you’ll have your bases covered.
Even though Florida is a no-fault state, meaning each driver has their own liability coverage to turn to, there are special circumstances where you can pursue damages from the other driver or their insurer, if necessary. In most cases, this becomes an option when severe or life-threatening injuries are involved.
With the help of a skillful car accident attorney, you can establish clear negligence took place on behalf of the other driver and seek damages for:
- Medical bills — Any medical expenses resulting from the crash, including hospitalization, prescription medication, rehabilitation, surgery, and physical therapy.
- Lost income — A loss of wages, or future loss income, due to a minor or severe injury that prohibits you from working at full capacity.
- Property damage — The total cost to repair a damaged vehicle or property.
- Pain and suffering — Non-economic damages that include physical or mental suffering resulting from a reduced quality of life after an accident. These damages are more complex to prove and require the experience of a personal injury attorney.
- Wrongful death — A widow or surviving relative are entitled to compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Moreover, if you drive someone else’s vehicle without permission and fall victim to an accident, the driver could be held responsible for covering the additional injuries or damages with their own insurance policy that aren’t covered by the car owner’s policy.
Law specific to Florida
While Florida maintains a no-fault policy, there are times when multiple parties share the blame. Under Florida Statutes 768.81, your percentage of fault ultimately reduces the number of damages awarded. For example, if you are found liable for 30 percent of the accident, a car accident attorney can help you obtain 70 percent in total damages. This is otherwise known as pure comparative negligence.
If you think your injuries could apply in this case, contact our team of experienced car accident litigators to discuss your legal options.
Am I insured if I was driving someone else’s car?
Generally speaking, you are covered by insurance if you are listed on the car owner’s auto insurance policy. In this instance, although your name is not on the car’s title, you do have permission to operate the vehicle and receive coverage in the event of an accident. With that in mind, Florida law also protects drivers who were given permission by the vehicle owner but are not included on the insurance policy. If you’re questioning, “Am I insured if I was driving someone else’s car?”, the answer is typically yes. Since Florida law follows the car first and the driver second, the damages are covered under the car owner’s auto insurance plan.
What if I was not at fault?
Given Florida’s no-fault laws, it typically doesn’t matter who caused the wreck unless severe injuries are involved. If you were driving someone else’s car and are not at fault for the accident, you would still follow the necessary steps to receive compensation for past, present and future medical bills, loss of income, or pain and suffering. Despite not being at fault, it’s best to file a report with law enforcement. In addition, you should seek medical evaluation following a crash.
Is insurance attached to the car or the driver?
Contrary to what some drivers may believe, car insurance tends to follow the car, not the driver. If someone other than you gets into a wreck while borrowing your vehicle, your insurer will typically cover the damages. There are exceptions, however. Most notably, car insurance will favor the driver if the vehicle involved in the crash is being rented.
Can I drive a car that is insured by someone else in Florida?
Yes! As long as the owner of the vehicle provides permission to use their car, you should be covered in the event of an accident. That said, if the severity of injuries exceed the level of coverage that the car owner carries, the driver may also need to use their own insurance policy to cover damages.
Who is liable in a car accident, owner or driver in Florida?
Each case is different. There are instances when the owner of the vehicle and the person driving the vehicle could be held liable in a lawsuit. You may also be personally liable if the damages exceed your insurance coverage amount. However, Florida Statutes 324.021 limits the level of liability of the car owner as a result of the negligent driver. The limit in Florida includes $100,000 for the cost of damages to one person. The amount extends to $300,000 for injuries involving multiple people.
Can someone drive my car if they are not on my insurance?
If you allow the “permissive use” of your car, the person borrowing your vehicle is then legally covered by your auto insurance policy. This is the case even when the other person carries their own car insurance coverage. In the event of a crash, however, both your insurance policy and the other driver’s could be applied for recovering damages. It often depends on the amount of damages awarded by your insurance company.
Contact Porcaro Law for legal guidance
You no longer have to wonder, “Does insurance follow the car or driver in Florida?” — the answer is simple. If you wind up in a crash while driving someone else’s vehicle, you have the right to pursue compensation for any injuries, including lost wages, present and future medical bills, and property damage. If someone else is borrowing your vehicle and experiences a collision, your car insurance will cover the vehicle first and the driver second. It’s important to note that having a legal expert evaluate your case is the best place to start. Though Florida law clearly defines the parameters of insurance coverage, a knowledgeable car accident attorney will have the best insights on how to proceed forward with your case.
Call Porcaro Law Group today to get your claim process started! We’ll take the time to discuss your car accident and answer all your questions or concerns. We value our clients, which is why we won’t charge you a dime until we win your case. To get in touch, request a free case review online or visit us at our Delray Beach office at 401 W. Linton, Blvd.
Looking for more insights on car insurance and Florida accident laws? Read our recent blog post — Got In An Accident While Driving Without Insurance In Florida?