Insurance & Uninsured Motorist Claims
Florida has historically had elevated numbers of drivers on the roads with little or no car insurance, despite the state’s no-fault law requiring them to carry certain amounts. This can be a bit scary for drivers because if you are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may wind up with very little recourse to get your medical bills covered – they have no insurance, and likely no assets, to draw on to get those bills paid.
Florida Is A No-Fault State
Like several others, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that in most cases, drivers do not sue each other for injuries incurred in accidents. Rather, medical bills are paid by each driver’s respective insurance companies. The minimum that one must carry in Florida is $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage. It is recommended that each driver carry bodily injury coverage, but it is not required. Normally, especially with smaller accidents, drivers exchange information and then any medical bills are covered by insurance.
If one of the parties is uninsured or underinsured, however, this system collapses – an uninsured motorist has no company or policy to fall back on, which can leave you largely out of luck in terms of getting any kind of monetary compensation from them. Your own insurance company may decide to cover your bills, but by law, an insurance company is only required to cover up to 80 percent of the PIP coverage you have – you still may owe hundreds or even thousands if you are unable to collect from an uninsured motorist’s insurance coverage.
You May Be Able To Sue
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to get your insurance company to pay out a claim on that basis, but usually proof of the motorist’s negligence is required, meaning that you may have to go to trial. Normally, personal injury cases of this type are barred by Florida law, but there is a “serious injury threshold” built into the law as a type of failsafe, and it stipulates that an exception can be made when “significant and permanent loss” of limbs or bodily functions occurs as a result of injury. If, for example, you suffer spinal damage leading to paraplegia in an accident with an underinsured motorist, that spinal damage would qualify as a “significant and permanent” loss of bodily function, allowing you to sue.
If all else fails, and your insurer refuses your claim, you may be able to allege bad faith on their part, or you may be able to reach the assets of the uninsured driver who hit you. Public policy is on your side in such an accident, and it is unusual that a true claim would be totally rejected by your insurer, but if it is, having an attorney on your side to help you fight is never a bad idea.
Can A Car Accident Attorney Help You?
Car accidents are at best an inconvenience, at worst a life-threatening nightmare. If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, it can make the nightmare even worse. Call the Tampa car crash attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group today for a free consultation; we are happy to try and help you work out where might be best for you to go from here.