Under Florida law, all drivers are required to carry insurance. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that every driver is insured. Many people lose their insurance coverage when they fail to pay their premiums or their insurance coverage may have been canceled for some other reason. Whatever the case may be, the unfortunate reality is that it can cause significant complications with your claim if you have been injured in an accident with an uninsured driver. If you have found yourself in this situation, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Understand the Limitations of Florida’s “No-Fault” Insurance Laws
Many people mistakenly assume that they don’t need to worry about this situation because Florida is a “no-fault” state where you simply pursue a claim under your own insurance policy. While this offers some protection that may not be available in “at fault” states, you need to understand the limitations that your own insurance provides. Your PIP (personal injury protection) will not cover all of your losses. PIP only covers the following:
- 80 percent of your medical expenses up to $10,000
- 60 percent of your lost income up to $10,000
In addition to your uncovered medical expenses and lost income, PIP will not cover your noneconomic losses caused by your accident such as whatever pain and suffering you experience. As a result, your uncovered losses could be much more significant than you anticipated.
Another limitation is that you need to seek medical treatment within 14 days of your accident in order to be covered under your PIP policy. This can be extremely problematic for those who have injuries that are not immediately apparent.
If you have questions about how your PIP coverage applies to your accident, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can provide the guidance you need.
What About Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Insurers are obligated to offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under Florida law, and this coverage can only be declined by the policyholder in writing. As a result, you likely have UM coverage if you didn’t sign a waiver. If you aren’t sure or can’t remember, a car accident lawyer can review your policy and determine the extent of your coverage.
UM coverage will apply once you have exhausted your PIP coverage. As a result, you can then seek additional compensation under your UM policy for any losses that aren’t covered by PIP, shoring up the gaps left by your PIP coverage. Considering the $10,000 limitation, you can exhaust your PIP coverage faster than you might expect.
If You Don’t Have UM Coverage
The reason why insurance coverage is required by law is that most people do not have sufficient assets to compensate victims in the event of a catastrophic accident. UM coverage is intended to protect drivers who are injured when they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver because this is even more likely in this scenario.
That said, all hope is not lost. As mentioned above, the other driver may be uninsured for a variety of reasons. They may have simply forgotten to pay their premiums or elected to cancel their insurance because they are high risk.
Ironically, if the driver had insurance, your only option for recovering your losses beyond your PIP coverage would be to file a lawsuit against the other driver. If you don’t have UM coverage, you still have this right. They may have assets to satisfy your claim and may be willing to settle in order to avoid a judgment. If they are truly “judgment proof,” there is still value in getting a judgment against them - that judgment will attach to any property they attempt to sell in the future, and gives you the ability to garnish their wages or other income.
Before deciding that you don’t have any options, the best thing to do is talk with a car accident attorney to discuss whether you should pursue a claim against the other driver.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You with Your Insurance Claim
Up to this point, we have been discussing your options based on the assumption that your insurance company will provide coverage. We should emphasize that this is an assumption and not a guarantee.
The insurance claim process is complicated and your insurance company will not simply take your word for it when it comes to paying for your losses. Instead, they will expect you to prove your claim in order to get the compensation you deserve.
When pursuing a claim under your PIP coverage, you will need to prove the following:
- That your injuries were caused by your accident
- The extent of your injuries and your limitations (such as being unable to work)
- Your current and future medical expenses
If you are pursuing a claim under your UM coverage, you will also need to prove that the other driver was at-fault in causing the accident and does not have insurance coverage. All of this can be overwhelming for someone who has been seriously injured, is in pain, and trying to get back on their feet.
A personal injury attorney can handle the entire process on your behalf so that you can focus on your recovery. They can handle all of the correspondence with your insurance company, the other driver, or anyone else who may be involved. They can gather the documentation you need so that your claim will be as strong as possible.
Your insurance company may not outright decline coverage, but there is a good chance that they will not want to pay what your claim is worth. Your lawyer can handle the negotiation process to ensure you get the best possible outcome and will only settle your claim when you are satisfied. They can provide you with the guidance you need so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family.
Injured in an Uninsured Motorist Accident? Contact Powell, Powell & Powell Today
Uninsured motorist accidents are complicated. You need someone on your side who understands the complexities of these cases and how to navigate the claim process. We have decades of experience in helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve - contact us today at 850-682-2757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.