After an auto accident in Tampa, Florida, it may be up to you to protect your rights and to seek financial recovery. Doing so requires at least a basic understanding of Florida’s insurance laws.

Florida is one of only 12 states that abide by no-fault insurance laws. This means you will seek initial benefits from your own insurance company regardless of fault for the accident.

Florida’s no-fault insurance laws

Every driver in Florida must maintain personal injury protection insurance coverage. PIP coverage will pay for your accident-related expenses whether or not you caused the accident. This coverage is a requirement in Florida because of the state’s no-fault statute.

Florida’s unique no-fault motor vehicle law states that each party involved in a car accident will seek benefits from his or her own auto insurer, regardless of who caused the accident. It will not matter if you were not at fault for the car accident—you will file your claim with your own insurance company.

Bringing a personal injury lawsuit in a no-fault state

It may be in your best interests to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver or party rather than settling through insurance. A civil suit could result in better compensation. You can only file outside of Florida’s no-fault system if your injuries qualify as serious. Serious injuries are those that cause disability, disfigurement or loss of a bodily function. You have four years from the date of the car accident to file an injury claim in Florida.

How to file an insurance claim in Florida

Stop at the scene of the crash and gather information such as the other driver’s name and a description of the vehicle. Call the police to report the wreck if it caused personal injuries, deaths or property damage in excess of $500. Request medical assistance, if necessary. Then, call your car insurance company. Most companies require accident reporting as soon as possible for a valid claim. Reach out to an attorney if you believe you will need assistance negotiating a fair settlement amount.