“What happens if I get into a car accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance?” “Or what if the at-fault driver only has $10,000 insurance limits?” I hear these two question all the time, and unfortunately, I usually have to inform an injured person that there’s probably nothing they can do. “Even if it’s entirely the other person’s fault?” “And what if I’ve needed six surgeries and lost the ability to work forever?” Unless the other driver is very wealthy and has assets to attack (improbable since wealthy people are usually smart enough to be covered under excellent insurance policies and/or know how to shelter their assets from creditors) the answer remains the same—most of the time, there’s nothing my severely injured (formally) potential client can do.
Most of the time at least. Every so often I’m astounded by a potential client who says, “but I have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage under my own auto policy (commonly referred to as UM coverage).” Hallelujah!
The message of this article is simple: Every one of you reading this needs to make sure you have adequate UM coverage. And if you don’t (or you’re not sure if you have it or not), you need to pickup the phone and purchase some additional coverage immediately. I’ll tell you why:
One in four drivers in Florida does not have insurance coverage at all. They are illegally driving a car without any type of insurance coverage whatsoever. Sadly, the vast majority of the remaining drivers only have the bare minimum insurance coverage and either have not purchased bodily injury coverage or have a measly $10,000 limit to cover your injuries.
What that means is simple, if you get into a car accident with another driver (assuming it’s primarily the other driver’s fault) and they are uninsured, you will get no money for your injuries—regardless of how hurt you may be, what your outstanding medical bills are, the destruction of your car, or your inability to work. If the other driver has minimum coverage in the amount of $10,000 (like the majority of Floridians), then the most you will get for your claim is $10,000—even if someone ends up in a wheelchair, racks up $200,000 in medical bills, or suffers any number of horrible injuries that will hopefully never happen to anyone reading this.
I had a client come to me not too long ago who was run over by a car as she walked through a cross-walk and suffered extreme injuries and underwent multiple surgeries all paired with enormous medical bills. She couldn’t believe that all she would be getting for her injuries was $10,000 from the other driver who nearly killed her. Worse yet, she was now personally responsible for hundred of thousands of dollars in medical bills and was unable to work and generate income for her family due to her accident.
Had any of these people purchased UM coverage prior to their unfortunate accidents, their UM coverage would have kicked in and they would have been compensated for their medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering up to the policy limits they had paid for.
I’ll give you an example: Joe purchases UM coverage with a limit of $300,000. Some time later, Joe is rear-ended by Max and Joe suffers severe injuries resulting in 4 surgeries, and the inability to work for 7 months. Joe now also suffers daily headaches and has a hard time doing day to day activities because of his constant back pain. Joe’s medical bills amount to $100,000. His lost work related income is $50,000. Joe’s expected future medical bills are about $75,000. After the accident, Joe makes a claim against Max’s insurance and it turns out Max only has a $10,000 bodily injury limit. Had Joe not purchased UM coverage prior to the accident, Joe would have to settle for the $10,000 offered by Max’s insurance and Joe would have to deal with all the above mentioned expenses on his own. However, because Joe has UM coverage for $300,000, Max’s insurance pays Joe $10,000, then Joe makes a claim on his UM policy to cover the difference and Joe’s UM policy eventually pays Joe an additional $300,000 for his injuries and his pain and suffering.
Because Florida has such low restrictions on insurance coverage obligations, its an unfortunate reality that most driver’s in Florida are either uninsured or underinsured exposing you to great risk in the event of an accident. Everybody needs to purchase some type of UM coverage. And the best part is that it’s relatively inexpensive—which is why most insurance companies don’t want you to know about it.
As always, if you ever have any questions, never hesitate to give me a call and discuss the matter free of charge. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (305) 200-8748. If you have not already done so, please like my facebook page at www.facebook.com/ciezalaw and follow ciezalaw on instagram www.instagram.com/ciezalaw.
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