Accidents With Uninsured & Underinsured Motorists
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, which means that every driver is required to carry a certain amount of accident insurance to be accessed in the event of a crash. However, the state is notorious for having a high percentage of uninsured and underinsured drivers – 26.7 percent in 2018, according to the Insurance Journal – and it is not uncommon to have to deal with accidents in which the defendant does not have the insurance coverage that is necessary. That said, you still may be able to recover for your injuries if you enlist legal help.
Even With Insurance, Medical Bills Add Up
Florida law requires each driver to carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection insurance (PIP) and $10,000 worth of property damage liability insurance (PDL) for every licensed vehicle. There is another type of insurance available, referred to as bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage, but it is not strictly required by Florida law (though, if you are involved in an accident, it can be helpful to carry this coverage, as it can be applied directly toward medical bills that may pile up). While failure to obey the requirements can result in a license (and plate) suspension of up to 3 years, a startlingly high percentage of Florida drivers choose to run this risk, for a variety of reasons.
If you are injured in an auto accident, your own personal injury protection coverage will cover some of your bills, as long as you seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident. PIP coverage will not pay everything, though – by law, it is required to pay 80 percent of all “reasonable expenses for medically necessary” coverage. Obviously, ‘medically necessary’ coverage will change in every case, but the point remains that some bills will go unpaid even if you have insurance. Normally, one would next look to the responsible party’s PIP coverage – but if they do not have it, more bills may accumulate.
If the other driver in your accident does not have sufficient insurance coverage, but your medical bills and other damages are greater than the amount of your PIP coverage, Florida law may allow you to file suit against the allegedly negligent driver. While Florida is a no-fault state, there is an exception to the no-fault rules for those who have sustained “significant and permanent” loss of a bodily function or a limb, or any other permanent injury that has reached a point where no further improvement can be expected. If your case qualifies, you can file suit against the negligent driver for the harm you have suffered.
Some Florida drivers, knowing the state’s problem with uninsured (or under-insured) motorists, have chosen to purchase uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage on top of the required PIP/PDL coverage. In addition to being available in cases where an uninsured motorist causes an accident, this coverage can also be used in hit-and-run cases, where the person who hit you cannot be located. Keep in mind that in Florida, your insurer is required to offer you this coverage, and if you do not want it, you must deny it in writing – which means that if you never denied UIM coverage in writing, you may carry it.
Call A Tampa Auto Accident Attorney
While some Florida drivers unfortunately continue to drive without the insurance the state requires, the best you can do is to make certain you are as prepared as possible for any eventuality. If you have been in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, calling the Tampa car accident attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can help answer any questions you may have, and get you on the road to recovery. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.