You’ve just been in an accident. As you exit your vehicle to swap insurance information, you’re hit with a fact that hurts almost as bad as your injuries: the other driver has no insurance. This information might cause you to panic: what if you have excess medical bills or property damage that exceeds your own policy's limits?
Unfortunately, there are millions of Florida drivers on the road right now that lack insurance. If you were involved in an accident with one of these uninsured motorists, it is imperative you contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney. Learn how an aggressive attorney can fight for your compensation after an uninsured motorist accident.
Florida Auto Insurance Rules & Regulations
Auto insurance coverage requirements vary from state to state. In Florida, every vehicle with four or more wheels must maintain Florida Auto Insurance coverage. There must be proof of said insurance when the vehicle is registered.
Every driver is required by law to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL). However, Florida is actually the only US state that doesn't require drivers to have bodily injury (BI) liability insurance.
For more information on what is required in a Florida auto insurance policy, and what these coverages mean, read more here.
How Common Are Uninsured Motorist Accidents?
In the United States, 12.6 percent of American motorists are uninsured. In the state of Florida, however, a staggering 26.7 percent of drivers are currently uninsured. This makes uninsured motorist accidents increasingly common in Florida. With more than one in four drivers operating a vehicle without insurance, collisions with these drivers occur frequently.
To add insult to injury, drivers who are paying for auto insurance ultimately pay for those who don't. According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), the total bill for US drivers is nearly $12 billion per year, which doesn't include the cost to taxpayers of taking uninsured motorists to court, revoking their driver's licenses or making them pay fines. Uninsured motorists nationwide add $67 a year on average to a typical policy holder's bill.
How Do I Pay for Damages after an Uninsured Motorist Accident?
Florida is one of 16 no-fault states. This means that in the case of an accident, your own insurance will pay some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings, no matter who was actually at fault for the accident. So, whether the other driver has insurance or not, you will still file an initial claim with your insurance company.
This is where your PIP benefits come in. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits help pay for the immediate costs following an accident, covering up to 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages. PIP claims will only pay out up to their policy limits, so if you exhausted all of the policy and still have a remaining amount of damages, you may be worried how you will pay for them.
You have two options: utilizing your own Uninsured or Underinsured Insurance coverage or filing a lawsuit.
Uninsured & Underinsured Insurance
Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance are optional types of coverage you can choose to purchase as part of your auto insurance policy. Technically speaking, these coverages are not necessary – the state of Florida only requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL). However, when it comes to ensuring you can pay for your own injuries no matter what, UM and UIM coverage is crucial.
Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage will pay for your injuries sustained in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the resulting medical bills and other damages. When you file a claim against your UIM or UM coverage, your insurance company will treat the claim as if it is being submitted by a third-party. Your insurance company will thoroughly investigate the claim, just as they would if the claim came from a non-policy holder. A qualified auto insurance attorney can help throughout this process, ensuring that your insurance adequately compensates you for the resulting damages.
If you do not have existing UM or UIM coverage, attempting to purchase it after your accident will not do your claim any justice. In this case, you may file a lawsuit to recoup the remaining damages instead.
Filing a Lawsuit
In the case of an uninsured motorist accident, sometimes even UIM or UM coverage isn't enough to cover the staggering amount of bills that can arise from the accident, or it simply may not be available to you. Florida law entitles all accident victims to be compensated for the full value of their damages. This means that when your own insurance is not enough to cover damages, and the other individual has no insurance to claim against, you may file a lawsuit.
Filing a claim against an uninsured motorist is not as intimidating as it sounds. Filing a suit against the at-fault driver can result in a settlement which, even if not paid immediately in full, can be paid to you in incremental payments to help offset the debt caused by the accident. At Weinstein Legal, our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys can help gather evidence to prove fault, calculate the total sum of all damages, and fight on your behalf to grant you the settlement you deserve.
Do’s and Don’ts of Uninsured Motorist Accidents
Being involved in an uninsured motorist accident can be frightening and frustrating, even in a no-fault state like Florida. If an uninsured driver has hit you, the team at Weinstein Legal is here to give you the confidence and knowledge you need to take the right steps when the unexpected happens.
- DO: Call the police. The police should be alerted whenever an accident occurs, regardless of insurance details. A police report paints an unbiased picture of the crash and includes pertinent information that can be used in your case.
- DO: Swap all available information. Be sure to still get the accurate full name and contact information for the uninsured motorist, including their phone number and email address.
- DO: Collect as much information as possible. Take photos of the accident damage as well as the accident scene as soon as you can. Also document the make and model of the vehicles involved, the time and location of the crash, and the name and badge number of the responding officer. These are vital details that can help prove your case.
- DON'T: Accept money at the scene. An uninsured driver can face hefty fines and even have their license revoked. They may attempt to offer you money to avoid potential legal repercussions. Under no circumstances should you accept any money or bribes, as chances are what they are offering is far less than what your damages may total.
- DON'T: Panic or get angry. Emotions run high after auto accidents. However, stress and anger can cloud your judgment and cause you to forget key details of the accident. Remain as level-headed as possible.
Above all, know that an uninsured motorist accident does not need to mean financial ruin for you. At Weinstein Legal, our knowledgeable attorneys are standing by to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get started or fill out the free case evaluation form on your right.