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Who Pays for Florida Accidents Caused by Uninsured Drivers?

Offered by Armando Personal Injury Law

What happens after a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver

Serious injuries are a regular result of car accidents.

Many crash victims assume that the insurance companies will cover their medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and other damages. They’re often shocked when policies only cover a small amount: a minimum policy in Florida may only pay $10,000 for your medical bills, for instance. For comparison, the average cost of an overnight hospital stay is around $11,700.

Almost every state requires a driver to have car insurance before they take their vehicle out on the road, including minimum bodily injury and property damage insurance, but in most cases, the minimum coverage doesn’t come close to paying for an accident victim’s medical bills.

So, what do you do if the negligent driver who hit you doesn’t have a large enough insurance policy to cover your needs? Or worse, what if they were driving without insurance entirely?

Answers to these questions can vary, so it is important to consult an experienced local car accident attorney after a wreck. In Florida, drivers are not required to have either UM or UIM coverage. A knowledgeable legal firm will know how to pursue the maximum compensation for your injuries when the at-fault driver has too little or no insurance.

If you have been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you probably have questions. Some of the most common ones have been answered below.

Shattered glass on the road at the scene of a car accident in Tampa

What is an uninsured driver?

An uninsured driver, as the name implies, is someone driving without insurance who causes an accident. A hit-and-run driver or “phantom vehicle” that cannot be found is also considered uninsured by default.

What is an “underinsured” driver?

States require minimum insurance policies per person, per accident, but this amount is often not enough to cover the full cost of accident injuries. Drivers in the state of Florida need to have at least $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability, but these amounts are often not enough to cover the full cost of accident injuries.

If a negligent driver doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your current and future accident-related medical bills, lost wages, and other costs, they are “underinsured.”

Can an underinsured or uninsured driver still be at-fault in a Florida car accident?

Legally, yes. Just because a person does not have the coverage or personal funds to pay for the damage they caused does not mean that they are no longer responsible for their recklessness. However, as a practical matter, it’s tough to get compensation from someone who has no insurance and limited assets because there may not be any money to take.

What is underinsured (UM)/uninsured motorist insurance (UIM)?

Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance covers you when you are in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or a hit and run driver who cannot be found. Underinsured motorist (UIM) policies kick in to pay for your expenses when the at-fault driver’s policy isn’t large enough to cover them.

UM and UIM work differently depending on the state where your car is registered and insured. In some states, they are separate types of coverage; in others, they are bundled together. Some states require motorists to carry UM and/or UIM. In Florida, this coverage is optional, although the insurance company is always required to offer it to you.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have a large enough policy, and you have a UIM policy, you will file a claim with your own insurance carrier. As usual, an adjuster can decide to pay, reduce, or reject your UIM claim. A Florida personal injury lawyer in your state can negotiate with the insurance company for you to get the maximum compensation for your damages.

What if I don’t have underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance?

In scenarios where the accident victim has no UIM policy and cannot get enough money out of an underinsured or uninsured motorist, their options may be limited. You can try to get compensation from the uninsured driver’s assets, but even if you’re able to get a verdict in your favor, you may not see any of that money if the driver doesn’t have assets to take. Depending on the situation, the at-fault driver might also be covered under a different policy, such as an employer’s or household family member’s policy.

The safest option is to carry UM and UIM in the first place, since that protects you no matter what, but obviously that’s little comfort if you’ve already been in an accident. Your best option at that point is to talk to an experienced attorney who can investigate your situation and find the available coverage.

Two damaged cars after a rear-end accident in Florida

Can I have a lawyer represent my car accident claims?

Yes. Studies show that people who hire lawyers receive larger payouts than those who do not. When filing an insurance claim, it is important that you get the most for your injuries. Otherwise, you may end up paying for expensive accident-related treatments out of pocket.

In every state, you have a right to have a lawyer represent your insurance claim or civil lawsuit to recover money for medical expenses, property damages, and other losses. The lawyer will help you with paperwork, collect evidence, make sure you meet all legal deadlines, handle outside requests for information, and negotiate with the insurance companies. If necessary, your lawyer can also file a lawsuit on your behalf to make sure you get everything you need to make a full recovery.

Can I afford to hire a lawyer? What if my accident isn’t big enough for an attorney to handle?

When injuries occur, there is no such thing as a minor car accident. Bodily damage from car accidents —like T-bones, rollovers, head-on collisions, rear-enders, and sideswipes — doesn’t always show up right away. And a seemingly minor pain can grow into a lifelong problem.

A local lawyer with experience in handling car accident cases will be able to help you understand the full cost of your recovery and how to make sure you get a substantial payout for your losses.

Car accident attorneys accept cases on contingency, which means they only get paid when they win. They also offer free case evaluations. You can learn more about how the law applies to your specific situation without making any commitments, payments, or obligations.

Find out how the law applies to your case today. Contact a Florida car accident lawyer in your state as soon as possible.

Armando Personal Injury Law is a personal injury law firm in Tampa, FL.

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Attorney Armando Edmiston is a Hillsborough County personal injury lawyer and lifelong resident who believes in hard work and fair treatment for injured people. Our mission is to ...