If you are navigating the roads of Miami, you might expect a distracted, intoxicated, inattentive, or otherwise negligent driver’s insurance carrier to compensate you for your injuries and financial losses caused by that driver. However, the risk of being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver is very high. Even when the at-fault driver remains at the scene of the crash and has insurance, the unsafe driver might still lack adequate insurance to cover the full value of your loss. These complications are compounded by Florida’s no-fault laws for auto accident claims. Car accident victims must look to their own insurer to provide financial compensation. Uninsured motorist/Underinsured motorist (UM/UIM coverage) is a supplemental form of coverage that can provide valuable compensation in these situations.
Many motorists never pay much attention to UM/UIM coverage because they underestimate the risk of ever needing to take advantage of this type of coverage. This false sense of security is misguided because it is estimated that 23 percent of Florida drivers have no insurance. Further, higher premiums and difficulty in obtaining coverage faced by the worst drivers means uninsured motorists are often the worst drivers.
Because Florida is a “no fault” state, the challenge of obtaining full compensation for injuries is even more complicated. Under Florida’s no fault system, an injury victim generally will have his or her own medical bills and lost wages paid from his or her own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. However, PIP coverage of $10,000 will not come close to covering all medical bills let alone lost wages if an injury victim suffers serious injury.
When the PIP limit has been exhausted, the injured motorist will look to the liability coverage of the “at fault” driver. Florida law does not require most drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage, so many people traveling our streets and interstates have minimal or no coverage to pay for an injury victim’s pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses. This makes UM/UIM coverage critical if PIP coverage is inadequate, or the injury victim seeks compensation for pain and suffering because of severe injuries.
An injury victim can sue a negligent driver to recover for mental anguish, pain and suffering, and the inconvenience arising out of the ownership, operation, or maintenance of a vehicle under Florida’s “no fault” system. However, these types of damages are only available in cases of serious injury. Evidence must reveal that the severity of injury pierces the tort threshold, which involves establishing one of the following:
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement;
- Permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring;
- Significant and permanent loss of a significant bodily function;
When you are injured by a negligent or reckless driver who causes severe or even catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, permanent damage to internal organs, loss of bodily functions, or other forms of life-altering injuries, UM/UIM coverage can be indispensable. The relatively high risk of being injured by a driver who flees the scene of an accident, lacks insurance, or carries inadequate coverage merits careful consideration of the benefits of UM/UIM coverage.
What some people never consider is that it makes little sense to carry less insurance to cover your own losses than to pay a liability claim for injuries to another driver or passenger. UM/UIM coverage does not typically raise your premium significantly, but the coverage can provide valuable protection when you are involved in a crash with a hit and run or uninsured or underinsured driver. The benefit provided by UM/UIM coverage can be maximized by the selection of “stacking” coverage. This means that the amount of coverage rises with each additional vehicle that is insured. The option of purchasing stacking coverage also usually does not necessitate a significant increase in premium amount.
When a policyholder suffers serious injury and must pursue a UM/UIM claim against his or her insurer, this creates an adversary scenario. Admittedly, policyholders are customers of their car insurance company, but insurance companies do not maximize profits and satisfy stockholders by paying out the fullest amount on claims. If you must pursue a UM/UIM claim, but your insurance carrier refuses to answer your questions, pay your claim, or offer the full value of your loss, our Miami insurance claims law firm fights for aggrieved policyholders.
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].