Hit by an Uninsured Driver? What You Need to Know About Uninsured Motorist Insurance in Florida
First the good news.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a Florida automobile accident and the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have car insurance, you still have every right to sue them. In fact, depending on the circumstances, there’s a good chance you will win and that a judge will order the other driver to compensate you for your injuries.
And now the bad news.
Even with a judgment from a court that says the other driver owes you money, when the other driver lacks car insurance, collecting your money can become very, very difficult.
Unfortunately, the chances that the other driver doesn’t have insurance is actually rather high. According to one recent study, up to 40% of all motorists in Central Florida alone are either uninsured or carry a policy with very low liability limits (i.e., underinsured). And it gets worse. According to the same study, those drivers who fail to purchase even the most basic liability insurance are more likely to be careless, reckless drivers. In other words, the drivers who are most likely to hit you are also the ones most likely to not be insured.
Understanding Car Insurance
In the ‘typical’ situation, if you are injured in an automobile accident, the first thing all parties do is report the accident to their insurance companies. Your insurance company will investigate the accident and, depending on the circumstances, your claim will be resolved either through your own insurance carrier (who will then seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company) or via a third party claim to the other driver’s insurer. The actual method doesn’t really make much of a difference as both routes lead to you being compensated by a car insurance company and not the other driver. Thus, lawsuits are usually not needed.
However, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, the compensation they owe you will have to come from them directly. And as a) they likely won’t have the money and b) they likely don’t want to pay you anything, you will need to file a law suit. Thus, the first step you should take when dealing with an uninsured motorist is to contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney, such as those at the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A.
A Better Option
After a car accident, the last thing you want is to deal with is a lengthy lawsuit – especially if your injuries are severe and require ongoing medical attention. That’s why having Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage is an appealing option to many responsible Florida drivers. Essentially, Uninsured Motorist Coverage means that if you are hit by a driver without insurance, your insurance carrier will pay you up to the limits of that coverage.
Granted, having UM insurance does costs money, which is why many Florida drivers opt not to add it to their policies. However, the small costs you pay for the coverage could end up saving you if an accident does happen. Imagine, for example, that you are involved in a serious car accident that results in you facing a pile of medical bills amounting to $100,000.00 or more. If the other driver is not insured, there is a good chance you will never be compensated for your injuries – requiring you to cover your medical expenses yourself. However, if you did purchase UM insurance for coverage of up to $100,000, then you could receive up to $100,000.00 in settlement of your injury claim.
Even if the other driver has minimal liability insurance, having your own UM insurance policy is beneficial. For example, let’s say the other driver has $10,000.00 in liability coverage, but the medical bills from your injuries total $100,000.00. In such a situation, you would receive $10,000.00 from the other driver, with the remainder coming from your UM insurance.
You should start by checking your car insurance policies to see if it includes UM coverage. If not, then we strongly suggest you call your insurance carrier to discuss what they offer. If when reviewing your policy or talking to your carrier you have any questions about UM coverage or motor vehicle accidents in general, call the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. at 1-877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) to schedule your free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.