Being in a car accident is often a terrifying experience, whether you are dealing with painful injuries, damage to your vehicle, or the emotional aftermath of the crash. Even more frustrating than being in an accident, however, is finding out that the party at fault did not carry adequate motorist coverage. In that situation, you might wonder how you will recover from your damages and injuries, so that you can be made whole?
Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of auto insurance that can be purchased as part of your own policy. This coverage is intended to provide you a backup source of recovery if you are harmed in a crash by someone without liability insurance at all or without enough coverage to cover your damages.
In Florida, this type of coverage is optional. Florida requires its drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance: specifically, at least $10,000 in property damage liability and $10,000 in personal injury protection. Property damage insurance covers such expenses as mechanic’s bills to fix the damage to your vehicle. Personal injury protection covers expenses like medical and hospital bills or lost wages that stem from being injured in an accident.
What Happens if You Get into an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist in Florida?
While the law requires insurance coverage, not everyone abides by it. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 20.1 percent of drivers in Florida are uninsured. When you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, your only recourse may be to exhaust your own insurance policy’s limits to pay for your damages. While it is still possible to bring a claim against the motorist personally, it is likely that they won’t have the assets to cover your damages, particularly if your accident is serious.
Moreover, even if the other driver has the required insurance coverage, the minimum amounts may not be sufficient to cover your losses. It doesn’t take an extremely serious collision to quickly exceed the state minimum coverage when it comes to recovery. From car repair to medical bills, people who have been harmed in a crash hit the $10,000 threshold fairly quickly. With an emergency room visit costing thousands of dollars before any procedures or tests are performed, you can imagine that a crash resulting in your needing surgery or any sort of long-term or rehabilitative care — on top of the property damage suffered — adds up quickly.
The issue of recovery is even more complicated when multiple drivers are involved. Let’s say one driver caused a crash that involved three more drivers. The negligent driver’s policy isn’t going to increase the maximum payout — it just means all victims have to split the insurance money. Once the at-fault driver’s policy has been exhausted, that’s where your underinsured motorist claim may help supplement your insurance.
Florida law states that any uninsured motorist coverage you might opt to buy shall not be less than the limits of bodily injury liability insurance purchased, or such lower limit complying with the rating plan of your company. This law offers an extent of protection for those who get into an accident with an uninsured motorist.
What Should You Consider Before Purchasing Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Many people get uninsured motorist insurance for peace of mind: if they’re in a bad wreck and the other driver’s policy is not sufficient or simply does not exist, they will have a safety net with their own insurance company. When deciding whether to sign up for uninsured motorist coverage, research the following information:
- What is the cost of the coverage to you?
- Are you able to “stack” this type of coverage to your current insurance policy?
- What liability limits are advised on this type of coverage?
- Will your uninsured motorist insurance policy cover hit-and-runs?
Regardless of your decision as to whether or not to obtain uninsured motorist coverage, be aware that even speaking to your own insurance company about your accident — aside from reporting the accident, which your insurance contract requires you to do — without first speaking to a car accident injury lawyer is not usually in your best interest.
Your insurance company may want to say you are at fault, requiring you to pay a deductible and possibly see your premiums go up. The company will usually try to save themselves as much money as possible, and should you have grounds for a substantial claim they will need to pay out, they will likely fight it.
How Can FVF Law Firm Help?
Auto insurance can be a valuable resource, especially in the event that you are hit by another driver. FVF wants everyone who has been injured in a car accident to understand that they have rights, and being educated about those rights is one way to make sure that you can advocate for yourself. Sometimes, that means fighting for fair recovery against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and sometimes that means fighting with your own for the full value of your uninsured motorist claim.
FVF’s priority is to provide information, regardless of whether you hire us to represent you. Contact us for a no-cost case consultation and information about the resources available to you.