Suing An Uninsured Motorist
It is against the law to drive without the required amount of auto insurance in Florida – namely, $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) coverage – but it is much more common than one might think. Because so many people drive without insurance, the possibility of being involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist is much higher than it would be in other states. If this happens to you, it can be devastating in some situations, because it limits your options to seek compensation for your medical bills.
Florida Has Most Uninsured Drivers In U.S.
Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimate that as many as 26.7 percent of Florida drivers are uninsured, with an untold number more being underinsured. Florida is a no-fault state in terms of auto insurance, meaning that everyone is required to carry a set amount, but many may be unaware of the requirements if they are recent transplants, or some simply go without. Either way, this means that many more accidents that happen on Florida roads involve uninsured or underinsured motorists.
In theory this is not as big a problem as it might be in other states, because in a no-fault state, everyone may make a claim with their own insurer. However, unless your costs are relatively minimal, this is often not a sufficient remedy. $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 PDL coverage will not last very long, especially if you have significant medical bills and/or a totaled vehicle, and there are limited circumstances in which you are allowed to actually sue the negligent driver in court. If you have uninsured motorist insurance, the burden may be less, but many people do not have that coverage.
When Can I Sue?
There are occasions when an injured driver can sue an uninsured motorist who allegedly caused the accident. Florida law holds that if an injured driver can show that they have sustained injuries above a certain severity threshold, namely a “significant and permanent loss” of a limb or important bodily function, or permanent injury or scarring short of death, the other driver is no longer immune from suit, because the no-fault system is not set up to handle such serious injuries.
Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean that you will be successful in receiving compensation from them – very often, an uninsured motorist has few assets – but it gives you the right to sue and try to collect. You may be able to work out a payment plan, but even if you cannot, it is important to have a dedicated attorney on your side who knows how best to attack the situation in a way that maximizes the likelihood of your recovery.
Contact An Experienced Tampa Auto Accident Attorney
Being in an auto accident is a traumatic experience, and if it has happened to you, you need an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer who has the knowledge and the work ethic to guide you through the process of filing suit. The Rinaldo Law Group has been handling these types of matters for years, and we are happy to work hard on yours. Contact us today for a free consultation.