No. Florida residents are not required to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. However, insurance companies are required to offer a minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage, also called UM. If you choose not to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, you must opt out of the coverage in writing. But opting out could result in serious financial repercussions if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver or underinsured driver.
If you or a loved one suffered damages in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist or a driver who doesn't have enough coverage to compensate you fully for your damages, you should talk with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer about your options.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for damages if you are in a car accident with a driver who does not have bodily injury liability coverage. Damages that uninsured motorist policies can compensate for include:
- Property damages
- Medical expenses, both present and future
- Lost wages
- Future loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Disability costs
- Wrongful death
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. That means that all drivers are required to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for medical expenses and other accident-related damages, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. PIP coverage protects the policyholder, their passengers, and any pedestrians involved in the accident.
Florida residents must also have a minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) auto insurance.
If your medical bills and other damages exceed your policy coverage, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in uninsured drivers. More than 1 in 4 drivers in the Sunshine State is driving without auto insurance. Those who do might not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for all your damages if you or your passengers suffered serious injuries.
Florida uninsured motorist coverage, as well as underinsured motorist coverage, provides additional protection if you or a loved one suffered damages in an accident by another driver who was driving without insurance or who has too little insurance to compensate you fully.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage vs. Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsurance motorist coverage (also called UM insurance) protects drivers and their passengers who are in an accident with another driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance. Underinsured motorist insurance (or UIM insurance) comes in when an at-fault driver’s liability limits are too low to pay for the cost of damages to the driver and the passengers they injured.
In general, uninsured motorist coverage will also cover underinsurance motorists' personal injury claims. But you will need to confirm this with your insurance provider.
Who Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Include?
Uninsured motorist coverage generally covers the policyholder, their spouse, and any relatives living in their home. UM coverage also typically extends to any passengers in the policyholder’s vehicle at the time of the accident.
UM/UIM policies also usually cover policyholders and their family members injured or killed by an uninsured or underinsured driver while the victims were:
- Riding a bicycle
- Sitting outside
- A passenger in an uninsured vehicle
- A passenger in a commercial vehicle
UM/UIM insurance also generally covers victims of hit-and-run accidents.
If you or a loved one was in an auto accident that was not your fault and you have questions about what your policy covers, talk with one of our Florida personal injury attorneys. We have more than five decades of combined legal experience helping accident victims obtain a favorable settlement in their personal injury claims.
What if My Loved One Died in an Accident with an Uninsured Driver?
If your loved one died as a result of injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else's negligence, you could file a wrongful death claim. Damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages of the deceased
- Loss of companionship
If you lost a loved one in an automobile accident caused by an uninsured driver, our personal injury attorneys can review the details of your case to help you get the maximum compensation for your losses.
How do I Get Compensation if an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Hit Me?
Compensation for damages is not automatic. Medical bills and other damages, such as pain and suffering, will have to be proven. You will also have to prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of another person or entity and that you or your loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident.
An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident with an uninsured driver or underinsured driver and help you get fair compensation for your damages.
What Should I do if an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Hit Me?
Anytime you have been involved in an auto accident with another driver, you should take the following steps:
Seek Medical Attention
You will want to seek medical attention as soon as possible after your accident even if your injuries don’t seem serious. Sometimes injuries suffered in a car crash aren’t fully realized until days, weeks, or even months after the accident. Some injuries may leave you unable to work for a period of time. Seeking medical attention as soon as possible after your car accident documents the injuries in your medical records.
You will also want to stay on course with any treatments your medical provider prescribes, including medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and follow-up appointments.
Call Law Enforcement
Florida law requires you to notify law enforcement about an accident if the accident resulted in bodily injuries, death, or property damages of $500 or more. Call the local police for accidents within a municipality, the Florida Highway Patrol for accidents on a state or interstate highways, or the county sheriff for accidents in rural areas.
Gather Information from the Other Driver(s)
You will want to get the name, address, and contact information of the other driver or drivers if there is more than one. You will also want to get the name of their insurance company and policy number if they have one.
Collect Evidence at the Scene
Use your smartphone or another camera on hand to take photographs of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved license plates, or any road or weather hazards that may have contributed to the accident. You should also document any injuries.
Talk to Witnesses
Get the name and contact information of anyone who was involved in or witnessed the accident or people who were at the scene when it occurred. Make notes of what they saw or heard. Also, write down your own recollections following the accident as details — some of which may be important — can be easily forgotten in time.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Insured drivers are responsible for notifying their insurance provider when they are involved in a traffic accident. You do not need to contact them from the scene of the accident. But you will want to contact them as soon as possible. Florida law requires that if an uninsured at-fault driver cannot afford to pay for the damages they caused, the car accident victim has 30 days to send a written settlement notice to the insurance company. If you fail to contact them in a timely manner, your insurance provider may deny your claim or cancel your policy altogether.
Once your insurer is notified, they will launch their own investigation into the facts of the accident. They may even offer you a settlement. You should not accept any settlement offer until you have talked with a Florida car accident lawyer.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
A car accident attorney experienced in Florida personal injury law can review the details of your case, help establish negligence, and determine the value of your damages to help you and your family get maximum compensation for your injuries. They can also deal with insurance companies so you can focus on your own recovery. Don't delay. Personal injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. And strong cases take time to build.
Holliday Karatinos Law Firm Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
Accidents can be overwhelming and stressful, especially if you or someone you love suffered serious injuries. It can be even more stressful when you find out the other driver didn’t have auto insurance or didn’t have enough coverage to fully compensate you for the damages they caused. Reach out to a car accident lawyer.
If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, contact the Florida personal injury lawyers at Holliday Karatinos Law Firm. We have over 50 years of combined legal experience in representing victims of car accidents with their personal injury claims and getting them the maximum compensation they need and deserve.
At Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, our clients get the personalized attention of a small firm with the experience and resources to take on any case, no matter the size. Contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers.