No one wants to be involved in a car accident. Even in a best-case scenario, a crash puts you off schedule and casts a gray cloud over your day. And most people don’t get that “best-case scenario.” Most likely your car is going to spend time in the shop, and if you’re really unlucky, you’ll need medical care yourself.
But crashes are particularly galling when they are caused by the negligence of another driver. Over the next four weeks, we will be looking at automobile accidents and going into detail about different aspects of preparing your case if you find yourself in this type of situation.
In Part 1 of this series, we will look into what you should do if you are hit by an uninsured driver.
Florida is a “No-Fault” Car Insurance State
The first thing to understand is that Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to the payment of car insurance claims after an accident. In no-fault states, drivers must carry auto insurance that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits for their own injuries. If an insured driver is involved in an accident, the PIP benefits pay for any medical expenses and certain non-medical-related costs, such as lost wages, associated with the accident.
Drivers in Florida are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP benefits on their insurance policy so that when an accident happens, each person can rely on their own policy to pay for medical care and other losses. Since Florida is a no-fault state, these PIP benefits kick in regardless of who was actually at fault.
But there is one exception to Florida’s no-fault system—if any injuries resulting from the car accident are considered permanent, if significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement happens, or if significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function results from the accident. In these instances, a person can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly.
But what if the responsible driver is uninsured?
Uninsured-Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In Florida, it’s not a requirement to have uninsured-underinsured motorist (UM-UIM) coverage. If you have UM-UIM coverage on your policy, it will cover all medical expenses and future earnings by paying additional PIP benefits if you’re hit by an uninsured driver, or a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the costs of your medical bills and other damages.
If you have UM-UIM coverage on your policy, you will pay a monthly premium to the insurance company. Then, if an accident occurs, your insurance company will pay the difference between what the uninsured driver compensates and what the injured driver is entitled to.
There are some limits to UM-UIM coverage, which can include certain hit-and-run scenarios or being injured while on the job, so it’s important to know what your policy entails.
What if I Don’t Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
If you are involved in a car accident with a driver who is uninsured and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced auto accident personal injury attorney to make sure you are properly compensated for damages. How?
3 Steps to Take if You’re Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
- Get the other driver’s information. Even if the driver is uninsured, it’s important to get the driver’s name, their contact information, and their driver’s license and license plate information.
- Call your insurance company. Your insurance company will check your policy and see if you have UM-UIM coverage. If you’re covered, your insurance policy will handle the claim.
If you don’t have UM-UIM coverage or if your policy doesn’t cover all of your damages, go to the next step.
- Call a lawyer. With the help of a knowledgeable car accident attorney, you can see what options are available to you in order to recover what you’re owed.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.