A recent news story out of Bakersfield, California, is a poignant reminder of the importance of having a good car insurance policy. A young woman was driving through the city in a Tesla when she mistook the gas pedal for the brake. Thinking that she was going to slow her vehicle, it actually sped up and she lost control of it. It careened off the road and directly through the wall of Shogun Sushi restaurant at 9:30 PM on a Saturday night. Though this wasn’t rush hour for the business, it was still serving many patrons at the time. It is estimated that there were about three dozen people in the restaurant at the time of the accident. Fortunately, of those, only two required hospitalization. The owner’s wife and a two-year-old were taken to the local hospital with minor injuries. Perhaps the surprising part about this accident report for many Americans was the fact that there was no alcohol, distraction, or drugs at play. It was a simple mistake by the driver that gave her a ride she won’t soon forget.
Though scary, this type of accident could easily occur, right here in Saint Petersburg. This is certainly not the first time that a driver has mistakenly hit the wrong pedal. Now, the owner of the restaurant, who has been in that location for more than ten years, will have to rebuild or relocate, as the damage was extensive. There are also the hospital bills and potential longer term medical care for the two victims of the accident to consider. The expense related to this crash is immense and would likely force an individual into bankruptcy. That is exactly the reason why drivers should always make preparations with a good car insurance policy.
In St. Petersburg, no-fault insurance is required. The state mandates that drivers carry $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) or the equivalent in no-fault insurance. Additionally, there is a mandated minimum of $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL).
PIP insurance is meant to cover some (or all) of your medical expenses and income losses that result from a car accident. This policy will also extend to cover your children and other members of your household and is not on the vehicle, but on the person. That is to say that you would be covered by this insurance whether you were driving your car, riding a bus, or walking as a pedestrian. Passengers in your car at the time of the accident will be covered by your PIP policy, if they do not have their own coverage.
In addition to bodily injury in an accident, there is generally mechanical damage done. Car and property repairs are covered by PDL insurance. This coverage will not extend to repair expenses on your own vehicle, but on the damage that the accident caused to other peoples’ vehicles and property.
If these minimum policies are canceled by a driver, the state mandates that the insurance provider electronically notify them. Florida’s DHSMV will submit a request to the driver requesting proof of insurance. If it is not supplied within a specified time span, the driver can face suspension of license, plates, and registration. Having these reinstated will cost $150 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for each offense thereafter.
Uninsured drivers can still face lawsuits, if the victims hire personally injury attorneys and file claims with the court.