Uninsured Motorist Accident
An increasing number of Florida drivers are driving without insurance, or are woefully underinsured in the event of a serious or fatal accident.
The Florida uninsured motorist attorneys at Freeman Injury Law understand that in any serious car crash, working with your insurance carrier, and that of the other driver, can be a daunting and intimidating endeavor. Insurance companies are in business to collect premiums and make money… not to pay claims. Sadly, by the time an injured motorist realizes an insurance company is not looking out for their best interest, it can be too late to seek adequate compensation for their injuries. Some motorists are shocked to discover that this behavior is very common, even when it comes to dealing with their own insurance carrier.
We represent victims and their families in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Maitland, Orlando and the surrounding communities. In a case where a motorist is uninsured or underinsured, we believe it is even more important to seek the representation of a qualified attorney. It is not uncommon for a motorist to downplay the amount of insurance coverage, or even indicate there is no insurance, in an effort to minimize the chances of a claim. And insurance companies have been known to claim coverage was not in effect on a vehicle at the time of an accident.
In still other cases, an insurance company may quickly attempt to settle a claim by presenting a check claiming to be the full amount of available coverage. Or they may dodge a claim and attempt to stonewall a victim.
There is good news for accident victims and it is Florida’s bad faith law. This law strikes terror into the hearts of insurance companies, and with good reason. The law is very clear and comes down very strongly on the side of the consumer. If an insurance company does not act in good faith to properly settle a claim in a timely manner, the company can be held responsible for the entire amount of damages regardless of the insurance limits in place on the policy. So, in cases where an insurance company acts inappropriately, a $10,000 policy can turn into a $30 million personal injury verdict for which the company is responsible.
Most data points to the nation’s high unemployment woes as reason there are so many uninsured motorists on the roads. People think they simply can’t afford auto insurance. An accident involving uninsured drivers can make the aftermath of a serious crash even more legally complex.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the rate of uninsured drivers on the country’s roads was 18% for 2009. In Florida that number is 23%, ranking it number 5 nationwide.
Penalties for driving without compulsory insurance include fines, which can be as high as $5,000 for a subsequent offense, to license or registration suspension or revocation. Some states can impose jail time, confiscate license plates and impound vehicles. When there is a serious or even fatal crash, the consequences become much more severe.
The Insurance Research Council surveyed uninsured motorists, and discovered the reasons many drivers simply do not buy auto insurance coverage:
- Vehicle not used/doesn't run: 49%
- Costs too much/can't afford: 30%
- Don't Need (1): 6%
- May insure in future (2):5%
- Access problems (3): 3%
- Miscellaneous (4):6%
(1): vehicle not worth it; I'm a safe driver; receive no benefit
(2): just bought vehicle; looking; haven't got around to it; forgot renewal
(3): couldn't find a company; company canceled; avoid insurance companies
(4): vehicle not registered; too many tickets; refused
Florida is what is known as a no-fault insurance state. No-fault laws provide some relief from the problem of uninsured motorists, enabling accident victims to collect benefits from their own insurance companies, regardless of whether the other party has insurance coverage.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage is designed to protect you if you are injured in an accident caused by someone not carrying any, or inadequate, coverage. If the other driver has no liability coverage, your Uninsured Motorist policy will kick in. If the other driver has an inadequate liability policy to cover your injuries in the event of an accident, your Underinsured coverage will pay compensation for your injuries. Although they are two separate types of coverage, Florida has enacted insurance regulations in which both types are offered under the term “Uninsured Motorist” coverage.
Yet just because you carry Uninsured Motorist coverage in your policy, some policies may not pay for your injuries if you have settled with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company. There are so many variances and nuances to automobile insurance policies, consulting an attorney who is well versed in accident and insurance law would be to your advantage. We strongly urge motorists to make sure they carry adequate Uninsured Motorist coverage, and to know the differences between “stackable” and “non-stackable” policy limitations.
Our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers at Freeman Injury Law aggressively fight for the rights of accident victims in Florida. Call our offices today to learn more about our case results, and to schedule a no cost, no-obligation consultation to review the facts of your case.
Freeman Injury Law – 1-800-561-7777 -- Someone on YOUR Side