Many are not aware that under Florida statutes, a driver whose vehicle is registered in this state only has to carry $10,000 in liability insurance. This is for property damage only and covers all property damage that results from the at-fault driver’s negligence! For example, if an at-fault driver is found liable for damage to multiple vehicles in a crash, the $10,000 property damage coverage will have to be apportioned among the several persons whose property was damaged in the collision.
Your only remedy to ensure coverage for property damage suffered in a collision, with such a situated at-fault driver, is to carry collision coverage on your own policy; not an inexpensive proposition by any means. Even more frightening is the fact that individuals whose vehicles are registered in Florida are not required to carry any liability insurance for bodily injuries (BI) caused by their negligence. To put it simply, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a motor vehicle collision with an at-fault driver with the minimum insurance required by law, your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of up to $10,000, will be your only coverage for medical expenses incurred due to the fault of another.
For instances when you are injured in a car accident with an at-fault driver who carries the minimum required insurance, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is required to be carried by all drivers whose vehicle is registered in Florida, will cover 80% of your medical expenses (75% of a hospital emergency room bill) up to a maximum of $10,000.00. Once you have exhausted PIP, you would normally file a claim against the at-fault’s BI liability coverage, but as you can see, this coverage is not -required under Florida law. The cold, hard reality is that if you are involved in a collision with someone who has no insurance at all, as far as coverage for your medical expenses is concerned, you are in the same boat as if the at-fault driver had no insurance at all!
So now what do you do? Well, if you were hit by someone with deep pockets, you can certainly sue the at-fault driver and attempt to collect on a judgment by going after their assets. In reality, however, most individuals with the minimum required insurance, or no insurance at all, don’t have any assets to satisfy a judgment (that’s probably why they have the minimum or no insurance, to begin with). Your best protection in these situations is purchasing uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto insurance policy. This particular policy provides for coverage of your medical bills after your PIP is exhausted when the at-fault party:
- Has the minimum insurance coverage (no BI);
- BI coverage that will not cover all your post-PIP medical bills; or
- No insurance at all.
UM, coverage is deemed so important under the law, that you must sign a document with your insurance carrier if you elect not to purchase it, indicating that your insurance company affirmatively offered it to you and that you declined to purchase it. UM, coverage can only be purchased in the same amount as your BI liability policy, i.e. if you have $10,000 BI liability coverage you can only purchase the same amount for your UM coverage. However, you can elect to purchase stacked UM coverage which multiplies the coverage amount by the number of vehicles listed on the policy. For example, if you have three vehicles under a stacked $10,000 UM policy for each vehicle, the total UM coverage amount for a collision involving any one of these vehicles would be $30,000.
In addition to protecting yourself with adequate insurance coverage, the most important thing you can do after a collision is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, such as those at The Watson Firm, PLLC. The at-fault’s insurance company’s and in a case involving UM benefits, even your own carrier’s driving force is to settle your claim in a way that is economically advantageous to the carrier. To put it simply, they are not looking out for you! To sum up, before you are involved in a collision, make sure you have adequate insurance to protect yourself; after a collision, protect your rights to these coverages by contacting The Watson Firm, PLLC. Pensacola Personal Injury Attorneys Aaron Watson and Eric Van Loock are here to assist you in getting the proper compensation for your injuries!