Florida Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Lawyer
At Frankl & Kominsky, our car accident lawyers are experienced in all aspects of personal injury claims. If you were injured in an auto accident and have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, we recommend contacting our firm to discuss your options.What is UM/UIM: Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage
UM stands for Uninsured Motorist Coverage while UIM stands for Underinsured Motorist Coverage. In the state of Florida UM/UIM is available as one coverage.
This type of auto insurance is designed to protect you if the person who is at fault for the accident has little or no bodily liability insurance to pay for your injuries or damages. Florida is a No Fault state which means you should have coverage for some of your medical bills and lost wages under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. However, if your medical bills and expenses are more than your PIP coverage and you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you may be able to pursue a claim with your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy.
For example, imagine if you are involved in an accident and have $50,000 worth of medical bills and lost wages from missed work. If the person who caused the accident has no insurance or very low coverage, you could be in a situation to come up with some or all of the $50,000 to cover your own bills.
It may come as a surprise to you that the state of Florida has the fifth highest rate of uninsured drivers in the entire country. Only a little over 50% of the drivers on the road in Florida have the only legally required minimum of car insurance, and early 25% of drivers have absolutely no automobile insurance at all.
If you get into a major accident with one of these uninsured or underinsured drivers, you could find yourself struggling to pay for your hospital bills and medical expenses on your own. Keep reading to learn more about how to protect yourself with UM coverage.How Do I Protect Myself From Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers?
The first way to protect yourself from underinsured or uninsured drivers is to make sure you have the state required Personal Injury Protection insurance. This insurance is required by law in the state of Florida, and covers 80 percent of your medical bill if you are injured in a car accident, regardless of fault.
What happens if you can’t afford to pay for the last 20 percent of your bills? What if your injuries are so severe that you feel you are owed money for pain and suffering? What happens if your injuries prevent you from working for a long period of time and you lose wages? With so many “what ifs,” it is a good idea to take matters into your own hands.
In addition to your Personal Injury Protection insurance, you can elect to add uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage to your already active insurance policy. This coverage allows the victim of an automobile accident to pursue compensation for damages or injuries sustained. UM/UIM coverage is completely elective, so it is not required by law in the state of Florida. While it is not legally required to have, it is highly recommended as it gives you added protection from uninsured drivers.How does UM Work?
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage is a contract between an insurance company and the person they are insuring. With most UM/UIM policies, the person who holds the coverage will pay for injuries and pain and suffering caused by the uninsured driver.
While this sounds like a great system, it is not automatic. The compensation will not happen immediately after the accident. Medical care and pain and suffering will have to be proven in order for compensation to come through. It also needs to be proven that the accident was, indeed, caused by someone else due to negligence and that you sustained a serious injury from the accident.What Does Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover
In general, Uninsured Motorist Coverage offers two types of protection.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: This type of uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage helps to pay for your medical expenses that result from a car crash that was caused by an uninsured driver. This includes coverage for initial medical care at the scene of the accident, hospital stays, surgeries, diagnostic testing, medication, rehabilitation, and more. Some states have uninsured or underinsured protection that extends to family members who are driving your car, or even to the passengers riding in your car.
When it comes to Underinsured Motorist Coverage, there is only one type of protection.
Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: When you add underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage to your insurance policy, it will help to pay for your medical bills if you are involved in an accident with a driver who is underinsured.
While the state of Florida does not require that you have underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, it is highly recommended that you add this type of coverage to your plan.How is UM/UIM Coverage Offered?
When you look into purchasing uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage, it is necessary to understand how the coverage is offered. In general, uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage is offered in a similar way to Bodily Injury Insurance, so if you have a BI plan, you will be familiar with how UM/UIM coverage is offered.
UM/UIM coverage is available in a limit per person and a limit per accident. For example, a $20,000/$50,000 UM/UIM policy means that you have $20,000 worth of coverage per person or $50,000 worth of coverage per accident for everyone involved. UM/UIM is often tied to your Bodily Injury coverage. If you elect not to carry UM/UIM in addition to your bodily injury, you will be required to sign a UM rejection form.Are Hit and Run Accidents Covered by UM/UIM?
A hit and run accident is defined as a car accident where one of the drivers leaves the scene of the accident without exchanging contact or insurance information. A hit and run accident can be between two vehicles, between a vehicle and property, like a fence or mailbox, or between a vehicle and a pedestrian on the street or sidewalk.
Depending on your UM/UIM insurance coverage plan and the state in which you reside, your UM/UIM insurance policy could cover damages if you are the victim of a hit and run accident. Generally, UM/UIM will provide you with coverage from a hit and run.
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident, here are some steps you should take:
- Pull over in a safe area: If you are driving in a vehicle and are the victim of a hit and run accident, pull over in a safe area immediately, if possible. This allows you to check on yourself and the other passengers in your car for injuries. It is never a good idea to chase the vehicle that hit you. This could lead to broken traffic laws and even worse injuries or damage on your part.
- Record details about the accident: Once you establish that no one in your vehicle needs emergency medical attention, it is recommended to take a few minutes to record all the details about the accident that you can remember. In situations that leave you shaken and flustered, it is difficult to remember details vividly as time passes. It is important to write down everything you can remember about the accident, including:
- Any details about the vehicle that hit you (make, model, color, license plate number, etc.)
- Any details about the driver that you remember (male, female, young, old, etc.)
- The facts about how the accident occurred
- Place, date, and time the accident occurred
- Any other pertinent information that you can think of
- Call the police: If you are involved in a hit and run accident, it is necessary that you call the police immediately. They will arrive at the scene of the accident and fill out an accident report for you. They will ask you all of the questions listed above, and work on trying to find the person who hit your car. An accident report may be necessary if you plan to file an insurance claim.
- Collect info from any eyewitnesses: In many cases, there are pedestrians or people in other vehicles that witness the accident first-hand. If you see any people around who witnessed your accident, ask if they would be willing to give a statement as an eyewitness. This will help to corroborate your story, and witnesses could have noticed other details about the hit and run driver that you did not.
- Take photos of your car and the scene of the accident: While the police will be taking photos of the scene of the accident and any damage to your vehicle, it is still recommended to take your own pictures. Use the camera on your cell phone, if you have one, to take as many pictures as you think you need. Focus on any damage done to your vehicle, and evidence of the other driver, any injuries you or your passengers sustained, etc. The photos can be submitted to your insurance company for proof of your injuries and damages.
- Call your insurance company: Call your insurance company to report the crash. Make them aware of what happened so that they can begin to help you. They will ask you to describe, in detail, the accident, very similar to what the police would have done. Try to stick to facts only when sharing the details of the crash so that you are not making any incorrect speculations. If you took pictures of the scene of the accident, damages, or injuries, your insurance company will most likely be able to give you an email address to send the pictures to. They will review the images and add them to your claim.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: The legal professionals at Frankl and Kominsky are available to offer you guidance as to your legal options. Make an appointment for a free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you identify the liable party and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.
In the state of Florida, you have the option to choose or decline uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. The fact of the matter is that, according to a 2017 study by the Insurance Research Council, one in eight drivers in the state of Florida are uninsured. This is a staggering amount, and greatly increases the chance that you will find yourself in an accident with one of those uninsured individuals.
If you are considering purchasing underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you should take some time to weigh the pros and cons of adding it to your plan. Below is a list of pros and cons that we have compiled for you, so that you can see the benefits and drawbacks for yourself. Use the list below to decide for yourself whether uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage is right for you.
The Pros of Adding Uninsured Motorist Coverage to Your Insurance Plan:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage will protect you in the event that you are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance, or does not carry enough insurance to cover your expenses. Without this coverage, you would have to pay for your own medical expenses personally, out of pocket. Uninsured Motorist Coverage can pay for the following:
- Lost wages for unexpected time away from work
- Pain and suffering
- Any current and future medical expenses that arise because of the accident
- A large portion of your medical bills
- Loss or extremely decreased of quality of life
With Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you have the ability to do what is called “stacking” coverage. When you stack Uninsured Motorist Coverage, you are able to combine coverage for more than one vehicle. This, in turn, protects you when you are driving any vehicle that you own, including a bicycle, or even when you are a pedestrian walking down the street. As you can see, stacking coverage can cover all your bases and leave you protected no matter your mode of transportation.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is relatively inexpensive if you have a clean driving record. Exact prices for coverage depend on the amount of your coverage, the state in which you live, the insurance company that you are working with, and your driving record. Having Uninsured Motorist Coverage protects your personal assets as well. If you find yourself in an accident with an uninsured person and you do not have UM/UIM insurance, it may be up to you to pay for your own damages and medical bills.
The last pro is that having UM/UIM insurance gives you the peace of mind that you are covered no matter what. You don’t have to worry constantly about getting into an accident with someone who is uninsured. You will know that, for a small annual fee, you are safe from having to pay for your own bills in the event of an accident.
The Cons of Adding Uninsured Motorist Coverage to Your Insurance Plan:
Really the only con that we can think of is the extra cost that adding uninsured motorist coverage to your insurance plan will be. Many people struggle to pay their bills as it is, and adding extra, unrequired coverage may not be realistic for some.Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer After a Car Accident
If you are involved in any type of car accident in Florida due to the negligence and carelessness of another person and they are uninsured, it is advisable to contact an attorney for assistance.
The lawyers at Frankl & Kominsky are extremely knowledgeable and have over 40 years of combined legal experience. Give us a call at 855-800-8000 for a free consultation. We can answer any questions you may have about your car accident. If you are unable to come out to our office, we can come to you 7 days a week.