When you are involved in a car accident in Florida, your first option is to seek compensatory damages from your own insurance company. This is because Florida is a no-fault state. This means that in the event of a crash, you are required to have your losses covered by your own insurer. This is regardless of whether or not the other driver was at fault.
For this purpose, Florida laws make it mandatory for you to carry property damage liability coverage of at least $10,000 and personal injury protection (PIP) of at least $10,000. These types of coverage are meant to cover you in the event of property damage or injuries incurred in an accident.
Seeking Damages from the At-Fault Driver
The PIP auto insurance requirements in Florida are quite low. So if the costs of your injuries and your lost wages exceed this amount, you have the option of seeking damages from the at-fault driver’s insurer. This option helps you recoup the additional costs of medical treatment.
However, this option can be availed only when the other driver has insurance and that insurance is enough to cover your losses. When the other driver is simply not insured or underinsured, things are not so simple.
Crash Involving an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver
When a crash involves an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is not possible for you to recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company. In such a case, you have several options that you can pursue.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM Coverage)
As per Florida laws, all auto insurance companies must offer uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, known as UM coverage, as a part of the auto insurance policy. UM coverage is optional but you must provide it in writing that you wish to opt out of it. The Florida Statutes Section 627.727 deals with this in detail.
If you do choose UIM coverage, it protects you precisely in instances where an underinsured or uninsured driver causes a crash. UM insurance covers a wide range of damages you are likely to suffer in a car accident. These include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It is important to note that UM coverage comes into play only once your PIP coverage has been exhausted.
Lawsuit Against Your Own Insurer
An insurance company may not readily offer you damages in lieu of UM coverage. When this is the case, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the insurer. However, before you do so, it is important to consult a reliable Boca Raton car accident attorney. The attorney will help you determine your odds of winning the lawsuit against the insurer.
Lawsuit Against At-Fault Driver
If your own PIP coverage doesn’t sufficiently cover your losses and you don’t have UM coverage either, this puts you in a difficult spot. You are forced to pay for the medical costs and other crash-related losses out of your own pocket. In such a case, you have the option of launching a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
A lawsuit lets you legally obtain damages from the at-fault driver. However, it is important to note that many drivers who are underinsured or uninsured do not typically have the money to settle a lawsuit. You can do some background check on any assets that the at-fault driver has. In the event of the failure of the at-fault driver to procure settlement money, you can request the presiding judge to order liquidation of the driver’s assets.
In the absence of money or assets, a judge may also ask the uninsured driver to pay you monthly sums to cover your losses. However, this method of payment only nominally covers your losses and that too over a lengthy period.
Hiring a Reliable Boca Raton Car Accident Attorney
If you have suffered a car crash involving an underinsured or uninsured motorist, it is important to seek sound legal help at the earliest. Here at Englander Peebles, we specialize in representing car crash victims when negotiating with insurers or proceeding with a lawsuit. Our attorneys can help you explore your available options when dealing with drivers with little or no insurance.
We understand that being in a car accident is a stressful period in your life. This is why we strive to make it easier on you by aiding you in making the right decisions. With our help, you can make choices that will get you the maximum amount of compensatory damages in the briefest time. Contact us today to book a consultation with our attorneys.