Unfortunately, car accidents happen every single day. They can take place without a moment’s notice, regardless of whether or not someone is a generally safe driver. A car accident can happen to just about anyone and usually stems from some person’s negligence. However, if you are a driver in Florida who gets into an accident with someone who doesn’t have auto insurance, you may wonder what you will do if you suffer injuries and vehicle damage.
Auto Insurance Is the Law in Florida
In the state of Florida, as a driver, having auto insurance is the law. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles requires every driver to have insurance and liability coverage if they end up in an accident that results in injuries or property damage. In general, this coverage is, at a minimum, $10,000 per person in terms of bodily injury liability and $20,000 per accident and $1,000 per instance of property damage per accident, plus personal injury protection (PIP) limited to $10,000 per person per accident.
However, in spite of this being required by law, many drivers in the state lack the required minimum insurance. According to the Insurance Research Council, which conducted a study on uninsured motorists in 2012, around 15 to 26 percent of drivers in Florida lacked auto insurance. There are various reasons for this issue, including the individual’s inability to afford basic coverage. Regardless of the reason, if a driver doesn’t have insurance and you get into an accident with them, it can cause problems, especially taking into consideration that Florida is a no-fault state.
What to Do if You’re in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
If you get into a road accident with an uninsured driver, you do have options. They include the following:
• Recover compensation from your own insurance company: Because Florida is a no-fault state, you may have to go through your own insurance coverage to receive compensation after an accident with an uninsured driver. This is a good option if you have minimal damages whether you have suffered a mild injury and small vehicle damage and the cost of treatment and repairs is lower than your coverage.
• Recover compensation from the driver responsible for the accident: This is usually not an option, but there is an exception to the no-fault rule regarding PIP. If the accident caused significant injuries, such as a permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent injuries, permanent scarring or disfigurement or lead to someone’s death, you can recover compensation from the at-fault driver. In some cases, if the amount of compensation you are seeking exceeds the amount that the individual could pay and it leads to financial hardship, the person could negotiate a payment plan that works for them. A monthly fee can be determined to compensate you for your medical expenses and other damages, but it’s important to note that this could delay your ability to pay your bills.
Importance of Being Prepared
Unfortunately, there are a large number of uninsured drivers on the roads in Florida. As a result, it’s important to know how to protect yourself in the event that you are in an accident with one of them. Prevention is the key to keeping yourself safe whenever you hit the road. Adding more coverage to your auto insurance policy can help. You should aim to include the following:
Uninsured motorist: This is coverage that takes effect if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver. The insurance is $10,000 at minimum for both PIP and property damage.
Underinsured motorist: This is similar to uninsured motorist coverage and helps to cover the costs of the damages along with the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
Collision: This type of coverage is in place so you can pay for vehicle damages if the at-fault driver lacks insurance or you are involved in a hit and run accident. This coverage does not pay for anything other than repairing or replacing your car.
Although you aren’t required to buy uninsured or uninsured motorist coverage with your insurance policy in Florida, your insurer is required by law to offer it to you. If you prefer not to have it, you can inform your insurance company in writing. However, having the coverage can help you in the event that you are in a car accident with a driver who lacks insurance or who has limited insurance coverage.
If you were in an accident and suffered injuries and vehicle damage with an uninsured driver in Florida, you can only benefit from contacting a car accident attorney. Contact Weinstein & Scharf, P.A. at your earliest convenience to speak with a personal injury attorney.