Car insurance is normally a hotly debated topic regardless of what state you reside in, and that is especially true here in Florida.
One debate that has come to the forefront in Tallahassee is bodily injury liability coverage.
Michael T. Gibson, lead attorney and president of Auto Justice Attorney, offered some insight on key questions surrounding bodily injury liability coverage.
1. What is bodily injury liability coverage?
This is something involving drivers who are at-fault in an accident having coverage to help pay for the medical costs and lost income of the other people who are injured in an accident.
It’s separate from typical insurance coverage for damage done to another driver’s vehicle in a crash.
2. What are Florida’s current laws when it comes to bodily injury liability coverage?
Florida is one of two states, along with Rhode Island, that doesn’t require drivers to carry bodily injury coverage for the damages caused when they injure another driver in an accident.
“We’re mandating that someone has liability coverage for damage they have caused to the vehicle, but not to somebody else’s body,” Gibson said. “That’s how it is.”
The only situations in which drivers are required by law to have bodily injury coverage are 1.) If a person has previously been at-fault in an accident that caused bodily damage to another driver, and 2.) If a driver has received a DUI.
“Essentially, you get one free accident that you cause or are at-fault (for), and you’re not required to have this insurance,” Gibson said.
In 2021, the Florida House and Senate passed a bill that would have eliminated Personal Injury Protection/No Fault Auto Insurance in the state and required drivers to have mandatory bodily injury coverage.
The bill was vetoed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
3. What does the absence of bodily injury liability coverage mean?
Gibson said that 30% or 40% of people in the state who get hit by a negligent driver in Florida are not going to be able to recover any money for medical bills if they need it.
“I think it goes against every concept of justice,” he said.
Gibson also said it can have an impact on taxpayers.
“What ends up happening is that if an injured driver can’t get compensation from the person that hit them, where do people think that responsibility goes? The answer is going to be your state-sponsored health plans,” Gibson said. “When people have no other resources, where do they look to? They look to the government. As taxpayers, whether we realize it or not, we are all paying the burden of that decision.”
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