Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
What happens if the at fault driver does not have insurance?
Quite often, the worse drivers don’t carry liability insurance because they either only have “no-fault” or no insurance at all. Why? Because if you own nothing, you insure nothing because you have nothing to lose. Read below how your Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez can help you, your family and those who ride with you be protected and compensated when the at fault driver does not have insurance or have enough insurance.
But how do you protect yourself if the at fault party does not have insurance?
Simple. Uninsured motorist coverage. In Florida, Uninsured Motorist Coverage is an optional coverage you can purchase on your own auto insurance policy which will compensate you for your injuries if the at fault party does not have insurance or enough insurance. Uninsured Motorist coverage is for you and your relatives who live with you (i.e., resident relatives) and people who occupy your car. UM pays you for injuries caused by an auto accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured (has no insurance), under-insured driver (not enough insurance) or if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident. UM coverage can only be used where you or your family members or driver of your car did not cause the auto accident.
One thing to know UM does not pay for your car. We recommend purchasing collision coverage on your car to cover damages to your car caused by an uninsured motorist.
UM coverage pays for things like:
- Medical bills
- Loss of the future enjoyment of life
- Lost wages and disability
- Long term nursing care
- Wheelchairs and medical devices
- Pain & suffering
- Replacement services for things you are no longer able to do: yard service, cleaning, etc.
- cost to retro-fit your house to accommodate disabilities caused by the auto accident
In Florida, if you elect to carry bodily injury liability insurance, the law requires that the insurance company also provides Uninsured Motorist coverage, unless you expressly reject it by signing a form!
Generally, UM coverage is intended to provide the insured with the right to recover from his or her own insurance carrier damages that he or she would otherwise be legally entitled to recover from an uninsured or underinsured tortfeasor. Therefore, UM claims have several distinct legal elements: the “insured” must be “legally entitled to recover” damages due the tortfeasor’s “ownership, maintenance, or use” of an “uninsured motor vehicle” or “underinsured motor vehicle.”
How is UM Coverage offered?
UM Coverage is offered similar to Bodily-Injury Coverage, in a limit per person and per accident. For instance a $10,000/$20,000 UM policy means that the UM carrier will compensate injured persons up to $10,000 per person or $20,000 per accident for all injured parties involved. UM coverage is normally available as such:
Who Is Covered by UM/UIM Policies
The people covered by an uninsured motorist coverage are the insured and members of their family (spouse, children or any relatives living in the same house) covered by the policy itself. The coverage also extends to people who were in the vehicle when the accident occurred. In an instance where the insured dies in the accident, the spouse would be entitled to coverage under the policy.
The 2 types of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
Like liability insurance, uninsured and underinsured motorist breaks down into 2 coverage types: bodily injury and property damage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI)
Can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and injury-related expenses for you, any permissive drivers, and your passengers, it can also provide coverage for injuries sustained in hit-and-run accidents.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)
If your car is damaged in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, this coverage steps in to help. Unlike UMBI, this coverage doesn’t protect against damage caused by hit-and-run collisions.
What happens if the at-fault driver does not have BI and you do not have UM?
If you do not have UM, and the other driver has no bodily injury insurance, no matter how badly you are injured, you will not be able to recover anything from the insurance carrier other than the initial PIP coverage for medical expenses and lost wages — i.e., no pain and suffering, emotional damages, loss of quality of life and other non-economic damages.
Generally in this case, you have the right to bring a judgment against the at-fault driver for damages you have suffered due to their negligence. This means going after the responsible party’s personal assets.
Florida Statute 627.727 spells out Uninsured Motorist limits and when it applies and how it is limited by Florida’s No-Fault coverage.
If you were in a collision with a driver who did not have proper insurance coverage or is underinsured, you may be worried about how your medical costs and other losses will be covered. Even if you have uninsured / underinsured coverage, you may encounter resistance. Your insurance company may try to unfairly deny or limit the amount you are compensated.
If you’re in an auto accident caused by an uninsured motorist and you don’t have UM coverage, your health insurance will generally pay for your medical bills related to that car accident, with you paying for any deductible and co-payment amounts. That can easily add up to a hefty amount if you require a hospital stay. If you have UM/UIM coverage, that pays for health care expenses before your health insurance kicks in.
Your health insurance won’t pay for lost wages if you miss work or for pain and suffering resulting from the crash. Lost wages and pain and suffering are paid for by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. If the other driver doesn’t have liability insurance, or doesn’t have enough of it, you’re out of luck — unless you want to pursue the matter in court.
As with any other car accident, before you can make a claim on UM/UIM coverage, car insurance companies will want to investigate the claim. They will confirm that the other motorist is uninsured or underinsured and that he or she is at fault.
You live in a no-fault state, it may still be a good idea to buy UM/UIM coverage. In a no-fault state, you have to file a claim with your own insurer— no matter who is to blame for the accident — and your right to sue the other party is restricted. However, drivers are allowed to sue for severe injuries and pain and suffering if the case meets certain conditions. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, and you win a lawsuit against him, there may be nothing to collect.
The state of Florida has one of the highest numbers of uninsured drivers in the country. One should protect themselves in case of an accident. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have the right protection. The state has set up a minimum protection net for its drivers by requiring all its drivers to carry a $10,000 policy of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). There is a second lay to the umbrella of coverage. That is Bodily Injury Insurance. It pays for the expenses others incur if you cause an accident while driving. Remember that you are not just protection you and your family.
Uninsured Motorist coverage according to Tampa Injury Attorney Martin J. Hernandez
Attorney Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez, LLC in Tampa provides legal representation for families in auto accident injury and wrongful death cases. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys welcome the opportunity to interview with you and your loved ones. We invite you to review our recent results from settlements to trial verdicts. Our qualifications and background are available to you as well. Our Tampa Attorneys Martin Hernandez and Daniel Fernandez are bilingual as well. Just call us at 813-229-5353 for your free consultation.
The Tampa personal injury lawyers of Fernandez & Hernandez, serve Florida communities including Tampa, Brandon, Carrollwood, Westchase, Riverview, Temple Terrace, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland, Plant City, Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Dover, Valrico, Lutz, Lakeland and many other neighborhoods in Tampa Bay area. Contact an Experienced Tampa Auto Accident Attorney from Fernandez & Hernandez Law.
If you have been involved in an Auto Accident in the Tampa Bay area, call Tampa personal injury lawyer Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez for a free consultation now. We recommend also reading his reviews on Google Reviews, Avvo and Yelp.
Call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 or read more at: www.InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com
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