According to the Insurance Research Council, 12.6 percent of American motorists are uninsured. In comparison to the national average, a staggering 15 to 26 percent of drivers in Florida are currently uninsured. While driving without coverage is against the law in the state of Florida, millions of motorists are currently on the road without auto insurance.
Being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver can be frightening and frustrating, even in a no-fault state like Florida. If you've been hit by an uninsured driver, 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. Contact us for a free consultation with an uninsured motorist accident attorney.
Tips for Handling an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
After an accident, one of the first steps you should take after ensuring your safety is to swap information with the other driver. While typically this exchange is completed to share insurance information, pertinent details like the other driver's full name and contact information should still be collected. If you have been struck by an uninsured driver, follow these tips:
- Call the Police. Regardless if the other driver has insurance, the police should be alerted whenever an accident occurs. The responding officer will file an accident report which will be used to detail the facts of your case.
- Exchange Information. They might not have insurance information to give you, but you'll still want their contact information and vehicle details. Be sure to exchange contact information with any potential witnesses as well, as their testimony can prove beneficial during the claims process.
- Collect Evidence. Emotions run high during accidents, and it can be easy to forget pertinent details. The easiest way to combat this phenomenon is by collecting evidence, such as jotting down everything you can remember and taking photos as soon as you can. Write down the make and model of the vehicle involved, time and location of the accident, name and badge number of the responding officer, and take as many pictures as you can. Be sure to capture any damage done to both cars, as well as the driver's license plate.
- Never Accept Money or Bribes. A driver without auto insurance can face hefty fines, which means they might try to offer you money to avoid potential legal repercussions. However, at this point you have no idea what your damages or injuries will cost. Even if it seems like a fair trade, hold off and do not ever accept money from the uninsured individual.
What Will My Insurance Cover After An Accident?
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that the primary option for covering medical costs after an auto accident is from your own insurance policy under the Personal Injury Protection ("PIP") coverage. This is true no matter which driver was at fault, hence "no-fault."
Florida law requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP), and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). After an insured driver suffers an accident, their own PIP coverage covers immediate costs, such as medical bills, lost wages, and more up to $10,000. The $10,000 in PDL coverage covers the property damage of the other vehicle if you caused the accident.
Even with those two coverages, it is still wise for all drivers to also carry Underinsured Motorist (UIM) and Uninsured Motorist insurance (UM). This is because not all accidents are "minor fender-benders." Many times drivers sustain life-changing injuries which their current auto policy will not completely cover. In the case this happens in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, UIM and UM insurance will help cover those higher costs.
What Will UIM and UM Protection Cover?
Underinsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist coverage will pay for your injuries incurred as a result of a driver who does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover the resulting medical bills and other damages. UIM and UM policies will not allow an insurance policy holder to carry more coverage than their existing liability insurance coverage. For example, if you have $50,000 worth of liability coverage, that's how much you can purchase in UIM or UM coverage.
When you file a claim against your UIM or UM coverage, your insurance company will treat the claim as if it is being filed by a third-party. Your insurance company will thoroughly investigate the claim, which is why it's critical to adhere to the steps you would follow in any other auto accident - report the accident to the police, gather evidence, take photos, and so on. A qualified auto insurance attorney can help throughout this process, ensuring that your insurance adequately compensates you for the resulting damages.
What to Do When Your Policy Isn't Enough
While having UIM and UM coverage is a wise choice, not all drivers currently understand what's covered in a Florida auto insurance policy. And in the case of an accident with an uninsured driver, sometimes even UIM or UM coverage isn't enough to cover the staggering amount of medical bills, lost wages, and future medical treatments that can arise from the accident.
If this is the case for you, do not hesitate to reach out for legal assistance. At the Weinstein Legal Team, our attorneys will aggressively fight for your right to compensation - even if the driver who hit you did not have insurance. Filing a suit against the at-fault individual can result in a settlement which, even if not paid immediately in full, can be paid to you in incremental payments to help off-set the debt caused by your damages.