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.
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.
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.