Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 4 – Why Does It Matter If You Elect To Purchase Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 4 – Why Does It Matter If You Elect To Purchase Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Published: March 28, 2022

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida is the sixth-highest state with the most uninsured drivers, at 20.4 percent. Uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) motorist insurance kicks in to cover the costs of being involved in a car accident when the other driver has little or no insurance.

What is UM Coverage And Why Should You Have It?

This is obviously a concerning fact when you consider that most people have the minimum amount of insurance coverage and it seems that those drivers are the ones that cause most of the car wrecks in Florida. This again means that you should always purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford.  This coverage is also known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage.

The reason UM coverage is so important is that it functions just like the injury coverage bought by the at-fault driver. So, if you are in a wreck and the at-fault driver is like most in Florida and has either no coverage or a small amount of coverage and your injuries are serious, then UM coverage will provide coverage for the other driver’s negligence.

We have written and spoken at some length about the necessity of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. The basis for this advice is that most drivers in Florida have only the minimum required insurance.  This means that most drivers have ZERO coverage for car wreck victim injuries, and this is completely legal. In Florida, you are only required by law to have $10,000.00 in property damage liability coverage and $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage (which is coverage that pays for the policyholder’s car wreck-related injuries).

So, most Florida drivers will have no coverage for the injuries they cause to you and your loved ones. It is imperative that you secure the most uninsured motorist coverage that you can afford.

Stacked vs. Non-Stacked Coverage

Since we have covered the basis for uninsured motorist coverage, we now should discuss how “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage works. So, when you elect to have uninsured motorist coverage, you are also going to be given the option to have “stacked” or “non-stacked” uninsured motorist coverage.

Stacked

Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

An example of stacking across multiple policies:

Assume you have two separate insurance policies for two different cars, and each has $60,000 of UM bodily injury (UMBI) coverage. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and choose to stack your coverage, you can increase the limit to $120,000 to cover medical and/or property payments in excess of the $60,000 policy limit, assuming both vehicles are registered in your name.

An example of stacking within one policy:

Assume you have four cars each with $40,000 of UMBI coverage. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you will be able to combine the coverage of all three vehicles under the policy, giving you $160,000 in coverage instead of just $40,000 for one car.

Non-Stacked

If, however, you buy uninsured motorist but elect to have “non-stacking” coverage or you only have one car in your household, then purchasing $100,000.00 will result in you having only $100,000.00 in coverage. This is true even if you have multiple cars in the same family.

There is an additional premium for “stacked” uninsured motorist coverage, but relatively speaking, the cost is quite minimal considering the large difference in the amount of coverage that is provided if you are in a situation where you need to utilize that amount of coverage. Stacked insurance essentially increases the amount of uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage dependent on the number of vehicles insured. 

In Florida, drivers have the option to stack policies within one policy or across multiple policies.

The Pros and Cons of Stacking Coverage:

Pros:

You have higher coverage limits after an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver without raising your liability limits.

Cons:

Results in higher monthly premiums.

However, keep in mind that if you can afford to pay the higher premium, in the long run, if you were to get into an accident with an uninsured driver, it would be much more beneficial than paying out of pocket for all the incurred expenses.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >


If you have questions about UM/UIM coverage as it relates to your Florida automobile policy, you can contact us on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call 855Hirejoe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists

You’ve Been Hit By An Uninsured Driver – What Do You Do?

You’ve Been Hit By An Uninsured Driver – What Do You Do?
Published: December 1, 2021

It is a common situation here at Zarzaur Law, P.A. A client is seriously injured in a car accident, that was not their fault, and has significant ongoing problems and medical treatment. Perhaps they cannot work or carry on the activities of daily living, their injuries are so severe that it causes death. So they (or their family) can sue the person that hit them and recover for their damages, right?

Unfortunately, in Florida, a licensed driver is NOT required to carry bodily injury liability insurance(BI coverage). Because of a strong insurance lobby, Florida legislature has not seen the need to require drivers to carry insurance to compensate others for an injury. In fact, only Florida and New Hampshire have this situation.

Unless the driver or owner of the car that is at fault is extremely wealthy, there is nothing the client can recover. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

When this happens, an experienced auto accident lawyer will ask if you or someone in your household has Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage. Hopefully, they (and you) have this important coverage.

What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage provides compensation to an insured for bodily injury or wrongful death damages caused by the negligence of an uninsured motorist.

What about Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage provides the same protection when there is a deficiency in liability coverage. In other words, if your injuries are worth more than the coverage of the person who caused them, you can recover the difference. The purpose of this coverage is to allow an insured the same coverage that would have been available if the negligent driver had liability coverage equal to the insured.

So What Does This Mean In Real Life?

Under Florida law, if you purchase liability coverage, the insurance company must offer you UM/UIM coverage in the same amount. A potential buyer can turn that down or buy lower limits of coverage, and many do. That’s why they are surprised when it turns out they don’t have “full coverage.” The bottom line is this, if you drive in Florida, there are a lot of drivers with no liability or little liability coverage.

You need to buy UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your family from these drivers.

Getting hit by an uninsured motorist can leave you with a lot of questions. Can you still get compensation for your injuries? Should you hire a car accident lawyer following an accident with an uninsured motorist? What should you do after your accident?


UNFORTUNATELY, ABOUT 13 % OF DRIVERS DO NOT CARRY AUTO INSURANCE EVEN THOUGH THEY DRIVE REGULARLY.


They choose not to carry insurance due to the expense, they allow their policies to lapse, or they drive a vehicle they do not have the legal right to drive. When uninsured drivers get behind the wheel and cause an accident, it creates a big headache for everyone involved.

Do You Know What To Do After An Accident With An Uninsured Motorist?

Following a car accident, many victims, especially those with injuries like spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injuries, have substantial medical bills to worry about. Not only that, their injuries may also prevent them from returning to work and generating the income they need to pay those bills.

Can You Get Compensation Or Help To Pay Your Medical Bills After An Accident With An Uninsured Motorist?

You have several options:

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage offers vital protection if you suffer an injury in an accident caused by a driver who does not have insurance. While not required in all states, New Jersey drivers, for example, must carry a $15,000 uninsured motorist policy on their vehicles. Your uninsured motorist coverage will cover damage to your vehicle as well as compensation for injuries you suffered in an accident. Typically, your insurance company will not allow you to carry more uninsured motorist coverage than you carry liability insurance on your vehicle.

Health Insurance

If your injuries exceed the protection of your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance, you might turn to your health insurance to help cover your medical expenses. Have your car accident lawyer contact your health insurance provider as soon as possible to let your provider know that you sustained injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver.

A Lawsuit

In the case of an uninsured driver, you may need to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries. Keep in mind that many uninsured drivers may simply not have the funds to compensate you for your injuries even if held directly liable, so even if you file a claim, you may not receive the compensation you expect. However, in addition to filing a lawsuit against the party that caused your accident, you may also file a claim against any party that contributed to the accident. A top car wreck lawyer can help investigate that accident and identify any other parties that contributed to the accident.

What Steps Should You Take Right After An Accident With An Uninsured Motorist?

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses

Get more helpful information on what to do after an accident here at our “Car Wreck Checklist” >

 

5. Work With A Trusted Car Accident Lawyer

A car accident lawyer can offer numerous advantages following an accident, including an accident with an uninsured motorist. A car accident attorney can:

Provide you with the information you need.
An attorney can review your insurance policies and help you understand the compensation you deserve, investigate the circumstances of the accident to identify potentially liable parties, and give you a better idea of how your claim will proceed, should you choose to file one.

Negotiate with your insurance company, if needed.
Your insurance company may make it difficult for you to get the full compensation you need for your injuries, damages to your vehicle, and other financial losses. An attorney can help negotiate with the insurance company or even fight for you in court if needed.

Support you throughout the claim.
In many cases, an attorney can offer vital support that can help you navigate the claim process, obtain the compensation you deserve and decrease your stress while you focus on your recovery.

Put together a claim for damages on your behalf.
The legal process is often complex, and the dueling interests of insurance companies, attorneys, and liable parties make it extremely difficult for an unrepresented plaintiff to obtain the compensation they actually deserve under the law. By partnering with an experienced car accident attorney, you can maximize your odds of a successful recovery from your injuries.

The laws on UM/UIM from state to state vary, so if you have coverage from another state, you need to let a board-certified personal injury specialist review the policy for coverage.

As you can see, UM/UIM coverage is very important.
In many cases, it may be the only insurance coverage available to protect you and your family if you are injured.

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD-CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, DISCUSSES THIS TOPIC >

 


If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by someone who is uninsured or underinsured, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/uninsured-motorist-coverage/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/uninsured-motorist-property-damage

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.727.html

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/hit-uninsured-motorist-what-you-should-know

Florida Car Insurance 101: Yes, It’s Legal For A Florida Resident To Register And Drive A Car That Has Zero Insurance For Your Injuries Caused By Their Car?

Florida Car Insurance 101: Yes, It’s Legal For A Florida Resident To Register And Drive A Car That Has Zero Insurance For Your Injuries Caused By Their Car?
Published: March 11, 2022

florida car insurance

Wait, Are You Saying That It’s Legal For A Florida Resident To Register And Drive A Car In Florida That Has Zero Insurance For Injuries Caused By Their Car? The short answer is YES!

So What Is Required?

That is correct. Florida law currently only requires that drivers purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage (that covers your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured in a wreck) and $10,000 for damage caused to another person’s vehicle if the wreck is your fault. But yes, there is no requirement that Florida drivers purchase and carry injury coverage for drivers that they injure in a wreck that they cause.

What is UM Coverage And Why Should You Have It?

This is obviously a concerning fact when you consider that most people have the minimum amount of insurance coverage and it seems that those drivers are the ones that cause most of the car wrecks in Florida. This again means that you should always purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford.  This coverage is also known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage. 

The reason UM coverage is so important is that it functions just like the injury coverage bought by the at-fault driver. So, if you are in a wreck and the at-fault driver is like most in Florida and has either no coverage or a small amount of coverage and your injuries are serious, then UM coverage will provide coverage for the other driver’s negligence.

Car Insurance Confusion 

Florida car insurance issues are confusing and we are here to help answer those questions for anyone. Whether you have questions related to a wreck or not, Zarzaur Law is happy to give you the advice to assist you and your family in selecting the right kind of car insurance that will provide you and your family with the most protection possible.

Stay tuned for our full six-part series on Car Insurance 101.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >


If you have questions about a car wreck where the at-fault driver does not have any bodily injury coverage or you just have questions about a car wreck case in general, please feel free to contact us at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

When Is A Personal Injury Severe Enough For A Lawsuit?

When Is A Personal Injury Severe Enough For A Lawsuit?
Published: December 27, 2021

Personal Injury Severe Enough For A LawsuitIf you are injured in a car crash in Florida, there are many laws that affect your ability to be compensated for your injuries. Many years ago, Florida established a requirement that drivers have “no-fault” Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits in their policies. This means that if you are injured by someone else that your own insurance will pay for medical bills up to $10,000.

Why Is The “No-Fault” Law Important?

In true no-fault states, every driver out on the road must be carrying a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. Coverage provided by a PIP will vary by state but in most cases, it should cover medical fees, lost wages, funeral costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses. The major difference between states is the dollar limits on the various coverages.

It should be noted that no-fault insurance refers to injuries and medical bills. If your car was damaged in an accident, which means the other driver was at fault and you were not at fault the cost to repair your vehicle would fall to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

Permanent Injury.

The rationale for this law was that it would make sure that people could get medical treatment for their injuries if the wrongful party did not have coverage. However, to get this, injured parties gave up their right to sue for damages unless they could prove permanent injuries as a result of the wreck. In this regard, Florida law is very different from other states, and an injury case requires the skill and knowledge of a top Florida car accident lawyer.

To recover from non-economic injuries (pain and suffering, loss of ability to enjoy life, etc) a Florida plaintiff in a car crash must prove he or she had:
1-Severe and permanent loss of an important bodily function or
2-Permanent injury within reasonable medical probability or
3-Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement or
4-Death

In other words, a Florida car wreck victim can only recover economic damages (unpaid medical bills or lost wages or income) unless one of the “thresholds” is met. Many of these, such as scarring, loss of a bodily function, or death may be easy to prove.

While some of these injuries may be self-evident, proving a permanent injury within reasonable medical probability may be difficult. In many cases, the injuries sustained in a car crash may not be as noticeable as scarring or loss of a limb. Even in severe crashes, the injuries may involve the bones and soft tissues of the body.

For example: Suppose you had a cervical strain injury to your neck as a result of a car wreck that was due to the fault of another driver. If there are no broken bones or spinal injuries, these may take many months and much therapy to heal. Usually, most treating physicians will want to treat these for several months and wait a while to determine if they will be permanent. The treating doctors will wait for you to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before giving an opinion about a permanent injury. If you still have problems after this time and treatment, a treating physician will give an opinion that you have a permanent injury.


MMI is defined in Florida Statutes as the date “after which further recovery from, or lasting improvement to, and injury or disease can no longer be reasonably anticipated, based upon reasonable medical probability”. Fla. Stat. §440.02(10).


How Do You Prove A Permanent Injury So As To Recover Non-Economic Damages?

Your personal injury lawyer will need to work with your doctor to gather all medical records and get an opinion from them to present to an insurance company. Frequently the doctors will want to make sure there were no prior problems, and if there were, they will want to examine the records to make sure there are new injuries or aggravation of pre-existing injuries from the car wreck. Your lawyer may be able to help the doctor gather the records he needs for review. Your lawyer may also be able to make sure the doctor’s opinions follow Florida law in order to reach the threshold.

Compulsory Medical Examination.

If the personal injury case does not settle before a suit is filed, which is a common occurrence, the insurance company will have the right to have a doctor of their choosing to examine you and give an opinion on permanency. This is called a “Compulsory Medical Examination” and is allowed by the Florida rules of civil procedure. These doctors usually have medical records and are allowed to conduct a reasonable medical exam of an injured party. Many of these doctors are regularly used by the insurance industry and thus have a built-in bias to help the insurance companies in finding no permanent injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer will often have a file on these doctors that they can use when questioning these doctors before and during the trial. This is just another obstacle you may face in recovering compensation for your injuries.

If you think you have a significant injury from a car crash, you need to seek both medical and legal advice. Florida law is very specific on the grounds for recovery of injuries and this requires a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you to the best result.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyers – Car Accident, Wrongful Death, Malpractice

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/what-to-expect-during-an-independent-medical-examination-30945

What Happens If You Are In A Car Wreck Caused By An Impaired Driver?

What Happens If You Are In A Car Wreck Caused By An Impaired Driver?
Published: March 26, 2021

Alcohol is a substance that reduces the functions of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. All of these abilities are necessary to operate a motor vehicle safely. A person’s alcohol level is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is called blood alcohol coordination, or BAC. At a BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, car crash risks increase exponentially.

Because of such risk, it’s illegal in all states to drive with a BAC of .08. Why? Almost one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the US involved drunk drivers.

According to NHTSA, between the years 2009-2018, more than 10,000 people per year died from drunk driving crashes. Many more are injured, and it is estimated that over one-half of all drivers will be involved in a drunk driving crash.


IT IS ESTIMATED THAT OVER ONE-HALF OF ALL DRIVERS WILL BE INVOLVED IN A DRUNK DRIVING CRASH.


Damages From A Drunk Driving Crash

Compensatory Damages
If you are injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, what are your rights? Under Florida law, you can recover compensatory and punitive damages against the drunk driver.

Compensatory Damages Include:

  • Lost wages
  • Unpaid medical bills
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Disability (if you have a permanent injury)

Most liability insurance policies will pay these damages, even if the insured was drunk.

Punitive Damages
“Punish” the drunk driver. They are not limited to standard compensatory damages, and the amount of such damages is usually solely in the discretion of a jury. They are generally limited by a multiplier of compensatory damages, although in cases of drunk driving there may not be a limit. Unfortunately, these damages are not covered by most Florida auto liability policies. Thus, if there is a punitive damages award, the insurance company is not responsible for payment.

Proving The Driver Was Impaired

Proving a driver was drunk often depends on whether the driver was criminally charged. If so, an experienced auto accident lawyer can use the facts surrounding the arrest to prove both fault and the criminal nature of the conduct, so as to enhance the value of the case for the victim. Recorded actions at the scene, witness statements and physical evidence (such as empty liquor bottles and BAC result) are usually admissible in a civil suit for damages. The law of evidence is very complex, and a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer is necessary in such cases.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage In Drunk Driving Cases

If the drunk driver flees the scene and is never found, and the driver has little or no bodily injury insurance, the victim can look to his or her own insurance coverage for recovery. UM coverage may include coverage for fleeing or hit and run wrong doers, or for cases where the drunk driver has little or no coverage. This is another reason to make sure you have an lawyer to investigate these matters, and another reason to buy as much UM coverage as you can afford.

Third-Party Liability For Drunk Drivers

Under Florida law, certain third parties may be responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver. Under the Florida “Dram Shop” statute, a business that sells or serves alcohol to a person involved in a crash is not liable unless:

1-the person is not of lawful drinking age (21 in Florida)

2-the person is habitually addicted to alcohol and the server knew or should have known that.

These are very narrow restrictions and often difficult to prove. A social host is generally not liable unless they knowingly provide alcohol to a minor. Again, this is a very complex area of Florida law, and the Florida legislature has made it very difficult to recover in such situations.

The statute of limitations to sue a commercial establishment or a social host is four years from the date of the injury, or two years if the case involves a wrongful death.

If you are injured in a case involving drunk driving, you need to contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The prompt preservation of evidence may be very important to your recovery.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/dram-shop-laws-social-host-liability-alcohol-related-accidents-florida.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/punitive_damages

https://www.findlaw.com/litigation/legal-system/what-are-compensatory-damages.html

The Particular Issues of Being Involved in A Wreck With Multiple Vehicles.

The Particular Issues of Being Involved in A Wreck With Multiple Vehicles.
Published: March 24, 2021

Most Florida Car Accidents or Florida Car Wrecks occur between two vehicles.  One vehicle is considered the “at-fault” vehicle and the other vehicle is considered the “victim” vehicle.

Occasionally, wrecks in Florida involve multiple vehicles.  Usually, one “at-fault” driver who strikes more than one car during the wreck.  These are sometimes “chain reaction” type of collisions that can happen in tightly spaced traffic like backups on bridges or other roads with limited shoulders.

The Florida Crash Report will usually list the “at-fault” driver as Vehicle 1 and will label the other Vehicles as 2- 4 or whatever the number of cars involved.  This will mean that only one Vehicle, Vehicle 1, will be liable for all of the damages and injuries caused.


IN A TYPICAL MULTIPLE VEHICLE WRECK THERE IS A LIMITED AMOUNT OF INSURANCE COVERAGE AND USUALLY ONLY ONE RESPONSIBLE INSURANCE POLICY


So why is this important?  Well because if there is only one insurance policy that is liable for all of the damages and injuries and if these damages and injuries are spread across multiple vehicles, then most likely, there will be insufficient insurance coverage for the “at fault” driver.

For example: many drivers in Florida have minimal insurance coverage.  Typically, drivers will have the mandatory $10,000.00 per claim/$20,000.00 per accident in property damage coverage and then have the same amount in boiling injury coverage.

Bodily Injury Coverage

Bodily injury coverage is the category of insurance that compensates other drivers for their injuries. The insurance company only has to pay the per accident limit when there are multiple cars involved and it does not have to pay each claim the “per claim” limit.  So, in this example, the limits were $10,000.00 per claim and $20,000.00 per accident for both property damage and injury.  The insurance company only has to pay $20,000.00 towards any and all property damage and $20,000.00 for any and all injuries.  This is the total amount they are responsible to pay even if there are 25 cars involves and multiple serious injuries. 

As you can imagine, a wreck can total a couple of cars and easily be well in excess of $20,000.00.  Further, $20,000.00 in medical expenses split between multiple victims can also be a nominal figure.

So long as the insurance company doesn’t act unreasonably in offering these total limits to the lawyers for each client, this is all they will ever have to pay towards the claims.

Global Settlement Mediation

 Global settlements for property damage and injury claims are the most common outcome of Florida Car Wrecks with multiple vehicle involvement.

The process that insurance companies use in Florida Car Wrecks involving multiple vehicles is quite simple.  It is called a “global settlement” process.  Global meaning that all potential parties for both property damages and injuries are all notified that the insurance company is planning on having a meeting where they will divide up the per accident limits among the potential claims.

This global settlement conference will require each lawyer to present information that would explain why their respective client should recover more, percentage-wise, than other claimants.  For instance, the injured party in the car that was hit first may usually have the most property damage and worse injuries.  This claimant will, many times, have the best argument that their injuries and damages are worse than others.

However, other factors are also considered in these global settlement conferences.  These factors can include things like:

  1. Does the party have health insurance?
  2. How much underinsured motorist coverage does each party have?
  3. Will this be the only recovery that this client makes for the entire event?
  4. How bad are the injuries and how expensive will the future treatments be?
  5. What condition was the claimant in prior to the wreck?

Obviously, these global settlement conferences should not be attended without a lawyer who has prepared not only to present your best case but prepared to point out why the other claims should not take priority.


UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AND FLORIDA CAR WRECKS WITH MULTIPLE INVOLVED VEHICLES IS JUST ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE AS MUCH A YOU CAN AFFORD.


Purchase as Much UM Coverage as You Can Afford

Every chance we get to advise clients and potential clients to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can afford, we do so.  Multiple vehicle accidents are just another reason why it is prudent to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as possible.  When you have this type of coverage on your policy the effect of the “at fault” driver not having sufficient coverage is much less problematic. 

For example: instead of having to split $20,000.00 four ways as illustrated above, the global settlement amount would just be the initial settlement of your case.  Once that is done, then your lawyer would be able to move on to the underinsured motorist coverage on your own policy for the additional value in your injury case.

Not having underinsured motorist coverage makes you depends entirely on the “at fault” party’s judgment in how much coverage to purchase. 

We can assure you that if they are acting reckless and cause a wreck, many times they are not going to be the type of person that is going to exercise diligence in selecting large amount of insurance for the other drivers’ injuries.  Instead, they will likely opt for the cheapest form of insurance that gets them legal to drive.  This means that you have to protect yourself and your family by purchasing the underinsured motorist coverage.

This is never more important than in a Florida Multiple Vehicle collision since having multiple claimants all pulling from the same number of limited coverages makes getting “made-whole” near impossible without your own protection.

If you are injured in a multiple vehicle car crash, whether a high speed or low speed crash, you should seek the services of an experienced person injury lawyer. A board-certified civil trial lawyer has much experience in dealing with these cases and can give you the advice you need.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:
https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/

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