Although every motorist driving in Florida is legally required to carry insurance, the truth of the matter is that there are many uninsured motorists using Florida’s roadways everyday. In fact, according to the Florida Insurance Council, Florida has among the highest uninsured motorists rates in the United States with an estimated 25 percent of motorists driving illegally without insurance. Additionally, many more drivers have insurance but are “underinsured,” meaning that their liability limits turn out not to be sufficient to cover their bills after an accident. Because uninsured and underinsured drivers are so prevalent, car accident attorneys in Florida have their hands full providing legal representation to car accident victims after an uninsured driver causes a crash. This article outlines the need to know legal basics that apply when an uninsured driver causes a car accident in Florida; however, car accident victims who are struggling to obtain the compensation that they are legally entitled to should consult with a local attorney.
Legally Mandated Car Insurance
In Florida, every driver is legally required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ website notes that drivers must have full liability coverage that includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash, as of the time that this article was written. Florida drivers who fail to carry the required PIP insurance can be fined and have their license, vehicle registration, and/or vehicle tag suspended. Despite these potential penalties many drivers fail to obtain Florida’s requisite insurance, either because the driver is from out of state, he or she can’t afford the insurance, or they simply choose not to purchase the insurance because they feel that the risk is worth it.
How to Collect Compensation After Being Hit by an Uninsured Driver
Determining how you will be compensated after being hit by an uninsured driver depends in large part on which state you are in. In the United States there are 12 states that are “no-fault” insurance states while the remaining 38 states are classified as “tort” states. Here we will focus on how compensation is collected in a no-fault state as this is the system that is in place in Florida.
In a no-fault insurance state the default option for receiving compensation after a car accident is to collect payment from your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for causing the accident and whether or not the other party is an uninsured motorist. Personal injury protection insurance is typically designed to cover 80 percent of your medical bills and expenses, leaving the remaining 20 percent of your expenses to be covered by the other driver’s insurance. However, if the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured it can be tricky to recover this remaining 20 percent. One option is to sue the uninsured driver, but it may be difficult to collect if the at-fault driver is lacking in assets. However, if the at-fault driver was working at the time of the accident then a court may be willing to hold their employer vicariously liable for the damages that their employee caused. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to assess your case and determine your chances of recovering the compensation that you’re seeking.
How to Protect Yourself Against Uninsured Motorists: Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are several ways in which you can help protect yourself against uninsured motorists in Florida. The first step you should take is to ensure that your own insurance policy complies with our state’s minimum PIP insurance requirements. The next step is to obtain uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This special type of insurance protects you, and generally also any relative who lives with you, financially in the event that you or your relative gets into an accident where the other driver is either uninsured or underinsured. For example, if you are involved in an accident where your claim against an underinsured motorist is worth $50,000 but the underinsured motorist who caused the accident (aka the at-fault motorist) only has a $25,000 policy, if you have UM coverage then your uninsured motorist insurance company will cover the difference and write you a check for the remaining $25,000.
Please note that divers in Florida are not required to carry uninsured motorist insurance, but that your insurance company is required to offer UM coverage to you and must receive your denial in writing if you decline the coverage. It should also be noted that uninsured motorist coverage, like other forms of insurance, is offered at different coverage levels so be sure to select the insurance level that makes the most sense for you and your family.
Important Tip: No matter what type of insurance you have, it is never a good idea to sign any liability release without first consulting with your insurance company and/or car accident attorney. Sometimes an uninsured at-fault party will try to get you to sign away your rights after a car crash, but doing so directly after an accident is almost never in your best interest.
Need Legal Advice After an Uninsured Motorist Accident?
Collecting compensation from an uninsured motorist after a car accident in Florida can be extremely difficult, but having a competent lawyer by your side can make this trying process much more manageable. If you have mounting medical bills and need access to the compensation that you are legally entitled to, contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Farah & Farah today. Our dedicated auto accident attorneys in Florida will evaluate your case during a free initial consultation, discuss the likely outcome of the case with you, and get started on your case without delay.