The population of many Florida cities is on the rise, and those cities have the traffic congestion to prove it. With more vehicles traveling the Sunbelt and other Florida roads, the risk of motor-vehicle accidents increases. When the accident is with an uninsured motorist or when you are yourself an underinsured motorist, the problems can quickly compound.
If you sustain damages in an accident and there are insurance lapses either on your or the other driver’s part, reach out to Luhrsen Goldberg for legal guidance and representation. You will need someone with extensive legal skills on your side, and an experienced Florida uninsured motorist lawyer from our firm will stand by you and fight for you.
Florida’s Insurance Requirements
Before a Florida driver may register a vehicle with Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), he must show proof of the state’s insurance requirements. These requirements include:
- A minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance: this covers up to $10,000 of medical expenses or lost wages per insured, regardless of fault. This is NOT a liability coverage.
- A minimum of $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL)
For those injured in an accident, PIP covers 80% of “necessary and medical expenses” for injuries and 60% of lost wages and covers additional accident-related expenses on behalf of its own insured, regardless of who caused the crash. PDL insurance covers damage to another person’s property, typically a vehicle, that you or the person driving your car at the time of the accident caused.
Penalties for Uninsured Drivers
Drivers who fail to meet these minimum requirements may have their driver’s licenses and registration suspended. Reinstating a license comes with a $500 fee. Further, they may find it difficult to find an insurance carrier willing to cover them with a suspension of their record, and can be left without driving privileges for weeks, months, or even years.
However, these costs pale in comparison to what uninsured motorists have to pay if they sustain or cause injuries and property damage in an accident.
Uninsured Motorist Statistics
While there are more insured than uninsured motorists on the road, there are still far too many uninsured drivers behind the wheel. A recent study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) reports one in eight drivers lacks insurance, representing a 12.6% rate of uninsured drivers nationwide.
Florida ranks sixth on the IRC’s list of states with the highest rates of uninsured drivers, showing a rate of 20.4%. Mississippi, the highest-ranked state, has a 29.4% rate, and New Jersey holds the lowest rank with a 3.1% rate.
Florida Car Accident Rates
The IRC has not published data on whether uninsured drivers are more likely to engage in risky, accident-causing driving behaviors than those with insurance. However, as uninsured drivers account for over 20% of Florida’s drivers, it stands to reason they are involved in a significant percentage of Florida car accidents.
The Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) reports 276,492 motor-vehicle crashes statewide for the most recent full year of data collection. Of these crashes, 2,331 produced fatalities, and 176,029 produced injuries.
It is not uncommon for hit-and-run drivers to be uninsured–their lack of insurance contributes to their decision to leave the scene. Data for hit-and-run accidents show:
- 74,126 crashes
- 183 fatalities
- 15,874 injuries
Florida’s Fault Laws
Florida drivers must carry PIP insurance because of Florida’s status as a no-fault state. Regardless of who is at fault, drivers use their own PIP policies to cover their damages after an accident. In at-fault states, the party who caused the accident is responsible for covering the victim’s damages, not the victim’s own insurance.
Unfortunately, PIP coverage is often inadequate to cover a victim’s needs, especially when accidents cause severe injuries and property damage.
Victims requiring additional compensation may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. Under Florida’s fault laws, victims who are less than 51% responsible for an accident can pursue a claim. If they meet this criterion but still hold some fault, their compensation is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they hold. In other words, if a victim is 15% responsible for the accident, they receive 85% of the full settlement amount.
Uninsured Accident Victims in Florida
If you are underinsured and sustain damages in a car accident, you do not have the benefit of PIP coverage and will have to pay your medical and other expenses out of pocket. You will also likely have your license suspended and may have a difficult time finding an insurance company to provide coverage going forward.
A Florida Uninsured Motorist Lawyer Can Help
If the accident leaves you with severe injuries and consequences, your uninsured status does not prevent you from filing a personal injury claim. While some states have “No pay, no play” laws preventing uninsured drivers from seeking compensation or reducing what they can collect in an injury settlement, Florida does not.
Do not risk losing compensation that can aid your recovery and stabilize your financial future. Connect with a Florida uninsured motorist attorney who will carefully review your situation and fight for the settlement you deserve.
Victims of Uninsured Drivers in Florida
When you are insured but sustain damages in an accident with an uninsured driver, Luhrsen Goldberg can help you navigate the insurance process and potentially file a personal injury claim to secure a settlement.
Though you have PIP coverage, it covers 80% of “necessary and reasonable” medical expenses. As you can probably imagine, insurance companies often interpret “necessary and reasonable” differently than victims, and the victims are the ones who lose if the insurance company wins. An attorney will hold your insurance company accountable for treating you fairly and providing the coverage they owe.
Some drivers purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UMI) to cover damages if they are in an accident with an uninsured motorist. These policies can offer additional compensation, and again, an attorney will work to ensure you are treated fairly by the insurance company.
Neither your vehicle damage nor your pain and suffering are covered by PIP, and your medical needs may require far more than your PIP and UMI policies cover. In these circumstances, your attorney can file a personal injury claim to work for a settlement that meets your needs.
Proving Negligence for a Florida Car Accident
To collect a settlement, victims must prove the at-fault party’s negligence. There are four components to proving negligence:
- Duty of Care: The at-fault party had a legal obligation to preserve the victim’s safety. For example, drivers owe this duty to all others sharing the roads and must avoid unsafe driving behaviors and practice safe driving behaviors at all times.
- Breach of Duty: The at-fault party failed to uphold their duty. Drivers who speed, weave recklessly in and out of lanes, ignore traffic laws, or drive while distracted or drunk have breached their duty.
- Causation: The driver’s breach of duty caused the accident. Not something else.
- Damages: The accident cost the victim measurable damages.
When you are the accident victim, you may automatically assume the other driver is the at-fault party–whether that driver is insured or not. While you may be right, you might also have it wrong. A claim can only be successful if it is against the correct at-fault party, and only a thorough investigation can accurately identify that at-fault party.
Identifying the At-Fault Party
Our Florida underinsured motorist attorneys have the resources, experience, and general know-how to carry out a full investigation of your accident. With help from various experts, information from witnesses, physical evidence from the scene, video or photo images from traffic or security cameras, and any other relevant source, we will figure out what happened and who is to blame.
The Other Driver
Driver error, intoxication, recklessness, or carelessness may be the cause of the accident. With this outcome, we will pursue a case against the uninsured driver personally, which means they pay your compensation from their personal assets.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for uninsured drivers to lack substantial assets, making it difficult for you to get the compensation you need from them. Whatever the situation, you can count on your underinsured motorist attorney in Florida to work toward the best outcome.
Road, traffic signal, and streetlight maintenance are under the purview of different government offices. When an accident results from unsafe roads, non-functioning traffic signals, or poorly lit roads, the office overseeing the relevant factor may be culpable.
Keep in mind the process for filing against a government entity is different from the process for filing against a private entity. In some situations, the deadline for filing a claim is shortened. Be sure to connect with a Florida underinsured motorist lawyer as soon as possible so you do not miss the opportunity to collect a settlement.
If the other driver caused your accident but was driving for work purposes, you may be entitled to collect from the employer–or that employer’s insurance. Clearly, this circumstance comes with additional complexities, but you can trust the Florida uninsured motorist attorneys from our team to sort through them with efficiency.
Collecting a Settlement
Through the investigation of your accident, your attorney will collect evidence to prove the at-fault party’s negligence and protect you from unfair blame. Since Florida’s fault laws impact your settlement amount, representation from a knowledgeable uninsured motorist lawyer is critical.
Your lawyer will protect you from unfair accusations of fault the at-fault party’s representatives may level against you to save themselves or their client money. By increasing your degree of fault, they lower the amount they are entitled to pay.
Vulnerable victims may also undervalue their losses and under-estimate their future medical care costs and agree to a settlement far lower than what they truly need. Your attorney will also evaluate your losses with great care to make a settlement demand for fair, full compensation.
No two cases are completely alike, and the specific circumstances of your case will affect your settlement amount. However, you can expect your attorney to seek coverage for:
- Medical Expenses: Medical interventions for serious injuries are extremely expensive and may be required long-term. PIP alone will not cover these costs.
- Lost Wages: Recovering typically requires time away from work, potentially leaving you without income. If you are permanently unable to work, you lose future income and job benefits.
- Property Damage: PIP does not cover property damage, and you may be left facing expensive repairs or the cost of buying a new vehicle.
- Pain and Suffering: Your physical and emotional distress may not come with an explicit dollar value, but they still represent steep losses and demand acknowledgment.
Negotiating A Settlement
The Florida underinsured motorist lawyers at Luhrsen Goldberg are skilled negotiators. We know what a case is worth and will not be taken in or intimidated by unsavory tactics the at-fault party’s representatives use in trying to deflect their responsibilities and leave you inadequately compensated.
If these representatives refuse to make a fair deal, your lawyers will present you with your options for proceeding, and should you decide to take your case to trial, they will represent you at every court date.
Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for filing an injury claim. However, it is often in your best interests to file the claim before going to court to show insurance companies you mean business. Be sure to partner with our highly skilled uninsured motorist lawyers as soon as possible after your accident.
Do Not Settle for Less
When you are hurt in an accident caused by someone else, it makes sense for that “someone else” to cover your damages. Florida’s laws can make getting that coverage tricky, and if you or the other driver involved in the accident is an uninsured motorist, you face more complications. Do not try to work through those complications alone. You will end up frustrated and stressed, and most likely, without the compensation you need. Luhrsen and Goldberg is here for you. Contact us today to connect with an attentive, experienced, fierce Florida underinsured motorist attorney who will fight for you.