A car accident is a scary situation in itself, especially if you have suffered injuries. What can be even more frightening is when the driver who caused the accident is underinsured. How can this be? Why doesn’t the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough auto insurance to cover your injury claim?
Unfortunately, in Florida, a licensed driver is NOT required to carry bodily injury liability insurance (BI coverage). Because of a strong insurance lobby, the 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.
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 (as well as you) will have this critical coverage.
What Is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage provides the same protection when there is a deficiency in the 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 also 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 that if you drive in Florida, there are a lot of drivers with no liability coverage or little liability coverage.
In Florida, Auto Insurance Is Required.
Driving without auto insurance can lead to all sorts of problems. Florida drivers must always have the minimum required car insurance. The minimum car insurance requirement in Florida is $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL).
If you drive without auto insurance in Florida, you should be aware of all of the unpleasant consequences you may face if you are caught by law enforcement or involved in an auto accident.
Examples include license suspension, license plate confiscation, and even potential criminal charges. If you want to protect yourself from these awful scenarios, you need to make sure that you always have auto insurance coverage, plain and simple.
You need to buy UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your family from these drivers.
Unfortunately, about 13 percent of drivers do not carry auto insurance, even though they drive regularly.
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.
If you have been injured in a car accident involving an underinsured motorist, and you have UIM or UM coverage, your personal injury lawyer can file a claim with your insurance company to compensate you for the harm you have suffered. Some damages that may be available for you to claim include:
Medical Bills – If you have been hit and have suffered injuries in an accident, you can make a claim to cover the costs of any medical bills resulting from these injuries. This can include bills for hospital appointments, transport to and from these appointments, and any future medical expenses you incur as a result.
Lost Wages – Your uninsured motorist coverage covers any financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of the accident, including lost wages. This can include any potential future earnings you would have made.
Pain and Suffering – If you have UM coverage, you may be able to recover compensation for any pain and suffering as a result of the collision. In order to receive these damages, you must prove that your injuries meet a “permanent injury threshold,” as provided under Florida Statute 627.737.
Wrongful Death – A lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim under your uninsured motorist coverage to recover compensation for funeral costs and a loss of consortium.
What Steps Should You Take Right After An Accident With An Underinsured 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, like the team at Zarzaur Law, can offer numerous advantages following an accident, including an accident with an underinsured 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.
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 vary from state to state, so if you have coverage from another state, you need to let a board certified personal injury specialist review the policy for coverage.
The statute of limitations for making a claim against your UM/UIM coverage is 5 years from the date of injury. Again, this may vary from state to state, but it is very important to seek legal help as soon as possible after the crash or injury.
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 Our YouTube Video On This Topic >
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.
If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.