It is a common situation for most personal injury lawyers in Florida. 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. So they 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 trial 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 Pensacola, 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.
You can also buy UM/UIM coverage for your motorcycle.
It goes without saying that riding a motorcycle is dangerous, and even “minor” accidents can cause serious injuries or death. Please buy this coverage if you ride a motorcycle.
UM/UIM coverage can cover you if injured on a bicycle or simply walking the streets. If the person who injures you has insufficient coverage in this situation, you can make a UM/UIM claim against your company.
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.
The statute of limitations for making a claim against your UM/UIM coverage is five 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.
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.