If you find yourself involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may have discovered the challenges one faces when dealing with a driver without auto insurance. Or perhaps you’ve collided with someone who is underinsured— that is, someone whose liability insurance does not cover all the necessary expenses after an accident. If this is the case, you probably have lots of questions on how to proceed.
You’re not alone: Not only are Florida’s highways becoming more and more dangerous, but Florida also has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers, which can make a high-stress situation like an accident even more stressful. Here is a guide on how to handle an accident where the other person does not carry auto insurance.
How to Collect Compensation
In any car accident case, there are specific steps to follow, but things get more complicated if you are dealing with an uninsured driver. Since Florida is a no-fault state, your first step in an accident involving an uninsured driver should be to contact your insurance company and collect payment from them. This should always be your primary action, regardless of whether or not the other driver has insurance. Part of your required auto insurance coverage in Florida is Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which covers 80% of your expenses up to $10,000, leaving only 20% of the expenses to the other party’s insurance.
When the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, recovering this additional 20% of your expenses and any amount beyond the $10,000 limit can seem like a daunting task. In this case, a lawsuit against the driver may be your best option. However, if the other driver is lacking assets, this may not be the most effective way to collect expenses. Fortunately for you, the court can actually hold their employer “vicariously liable” for the damages their employee caused in certain situations.
How do you determine your best course of action here? An experienced insurance attorney can help you decide the proper way to proceed to make sure your needs are met.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Dealing with insurance companies and medical bills can be difficult enough when the other driver is insured, let alone facing the challenges of an uninsured driver. In Florida, you can protect yourself against these challenges with Uninsured Motorist coverage. First, be sure that your Personal Injury Protection coverage meets the Florida’s requirements. Then, you can obtain Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. This coverage applies to your entire household and protects you financially if any of you are involved in an accident with an uninsured person.
Uninsured Motorist coverage is also there for you in the event you are dealing with someone who does not have sufficient insurance coverage to handle the total expenses you are faced with. For example, if your claim against an underinsured person was $60,000, but their insurance only covered $40,000, your UM coverage would handle the remaining $20,000, keeping you from having to pay the difference.
An important point to note here is that Uninsured Motorist coverage is not required in the state of Florida. However, your auto insurance is required to offer it to you. In fact, should you decide to deny UM coverage, they will have you sign a written denial of UM coverage. Just like any other type of insurance, you can choose to have UM coverage at varying levels of coverage.
Before you decide to deny yourself and your family protection against an uninsured or underinsured person or before you sign a liability waiver, it is best to consult your attorney first. Especially after an accident, there may be times when the at-fault party’s insurance or lawyer wants you sign away liability, but this would not be in your best interest. Be sure to have your lawyer handle this so you don’t end up making a costly mistake.
Receiving compensation from an uninsured or underinsured motorist can be a challenging task. What can make this task seem easier is having an experienced injury lawyer by your side every step of the way. Medical bills can add up quickly, and you deserve the compensation you are entitled to.
We at Lusk, Drasites, & Tolisano have a strong, seasoned team who are all dedicated to getting you the help you need. Contact us, and let us evaluate your case and start you on the path to compensation today.