Car accidents result in expenses and bills you probably did not expect. Florida requires all drivers to maintain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. Therefore, some expenses might be covered by no-fault insurance.
But what happens when you sustain serious injuries? Florida insurance laws permit accident victims to sue at-fault drivers when the victim sustains serious injuries. However, what can you do if the other driver doesn’t have insurance coverage?
Requirements for Auto Insurance in Florida
Florida requires drivers to purchase a minimum amount of no-fault car insurance. The following are the requirements for no-fault insurance in Florida:
- $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL)
Drivers are not required to purchase liability insurance. Drivers can purchase additional insurance coverage, including uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage.
Failure to have the required car insurance coverage can result in fines and a driver’s license suspension. Unfortunately, despite the potential penalties, it is estimated that 20.4% of Florida drivers don’t have insurance coverage.
What Is the Difference Between PIP and Liability Insurance?
PIP insurance benefits are not dependent on liability. It pays benefits to the insured and others covered by the insurance policy even when the insured causes the car wreck. It does not pay benefits to the other driver.
No-fault insurance covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages up to the policy limit. However, the amount paid is limited if you sustain minor injuries.
Furthermore, you have 14 days after the accident date to see a doctor if you want to receive PIP benefits. Also, no-fault insurance does not pay you for pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages.
On the other hand, liability insurance pays damages to accident victims when a driver causes an accident. Therefore, by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, you could receive compensation for non-economic and economic damages.
However, you must meet the serious injury threshold to sue the other driver for a car crash in Florida.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold?
When you sustain minor injuries in a car accident, you are limited to filing a claim for no-fault insurance benefits. Therefore, whether the at-fault driver is insured might not make a difference.
If you sustain serious injuries, you could file a lawsuit against the other driver for damages. Florida statutes define serious injuries as:
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement
- The person driving the other vehicle owed you a duty of care
- The person breached the duty of care through their acts or omissions
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of your automobile accident
- You sustained injuries because of the car crash
If you win your lawsuit or claim, you receive compensation from the driver’s liability insurance provider. However, what happens if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver?
You could sue the uninsured driver for damages. Oftentimes, the driver might not have the funds to pay a judgment. Furthermore, it could take years to receive your money through wage garnishment, if that is even possible.
The other option if the driver doesn’t have car insurance is to file an uninsured motorist claim.
Filing Uninsured Motorist Claims in Florida
Florida does not require you to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. However, many drivers choose to purchase this optional insurance to protect themselves in case an uninsured driver hits them.
Uninsured motorist insurance compensates you for damages caused by an uninsured driver. In other words, your insurance provider stands in the place of a liability insurance company for the other driver. You could receive compensation for damages including, but not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income
- Decrease in quality of life
- Permanent injuries
- Diminished earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Emotional distress
However, having uninsured motorist coverage does not guarantee you will receive compensation after a car accident caused by an insured driver. You might have to fight your insurance company for compensation.
Why Would an Insurance Company Deny Coverage for an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
Your insurance company is like all other insurance providers. It tries to avoid paying claims because that cuts into its profits. Therefore, the insurance company might deny your claim.
The insurance company may allege that your injuries do not meet the serious injury threshold. Therefore, you could not sue the at-fault driver. Instead, you are limited to the benefits provided under your PIP coverage.
The company could deny your claim based on a lack of evidence proving the other driver caused the crash. It is still your burden to prove the other driver caused the car accident to create liability for the claim.
What Should I Do If I Am Hit by an Uninsured Driver in Miami?
Call the police to report the accident when you are involved in a crash. Having an official traffic accident record could help with an insurance claim.
Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. Delays in medical care could give your insurance company a reason to claim that you failed to mitigate damages. Failure to mitigate damages could result in a lower jury verdict or settlement amount.
As soon as possible, contact a car accident lawyer. Florida insurance laws are complicated. The best way to know whether you have a claim is to talk with an experienced attorney.
An attorney reviews your insurance coverage, identifies the parties liable for the car accident, and assists you in documenting your damages. In addition, a car accident attorney has the resources to gather evidence proving liability that you might not have access to, especially when you are focused on recovering from car accident injuries.
Is There a Deadline for Filing Uninsured Motorist Claims in Florida?
Florida’s statute of limitations for suing another driver for a car accident is usually four years from the accident date. However, there could be exceptions.
The deadline for a lawsuit against your insurance company for denying or delaying an uninsured motorist claim is five years. The difference in the deadline to file is because UM claims are based on contracts instead of personal injury laws.
Even though the deadline to file a lawsuit might be four to five years, it is best to talk with a lawyer immediately. Delays in investigating a car accident could result in the loss of crucial evidence proving fault, making it more difficult to prove you are entitled to compensation for damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Miami Car Accident Lawyers
Our legal team is ready to help you get the money you deserve after a car crash. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer.