You’re driving down the palm tree-lined streets of West Palm Beach when, suddenly, another car runs a red light and collides with you. This traumatic experience goes from bad to worse when you discover the other driver has no insurance – and you’re not sure if you have enough.
Unfortunately, with 20.4% of Florida’s drivers uninsured, this is the reality many Florida drivers will face. Fortunately, there’s a safety net – Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM). In this blog, an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer explains UM/UIM coverage, how it works, and why it’s coverage you don’t want to be without.
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault System
Florida operates under a no-fault system, which means that each driver’s insurance covers their own medical expenses and damages, regardless of fault.
This is made possible through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which provides immediate benefits for injuries sustained in automobile accidents. However, the no-fault system does not prevent drivers from pursuing a claim against the at-fault driver under certain circumstances.
Mandatory Insurance Coverages in Florida
Florida law mandates two types of auto insurance coverage: PIP and Property Damage Liability (PDL).
PIP covers 80% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses, up to $10,000, regardless of fault. PDL takes care of the damages caused to another person’s property in an accident, such as their vehicle or other structures.
While PIP and PDL are mandatory, they may not be sufficient in severe accidents. That’s why it’s essential to consider additional coverages for comprehensive protection.
Additional Coverages for Comprehensive Protection
One such coverage is Bodily Injury Liability (BIL), which provides financial protection if you’re at fault in an accident that causes bodily injury or death to another person. In Florida, the minimum required BIL coverage is $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident.
Another essential coverage is UM/UIM coverage. Like BIL coverage, UM/UIM is not required by law in Florida. However, UM/UIM coverage offers substantial protection in scenarios involving uninsured or underinsured drivers.
UM/UIM coverage ensures you are compensated for injuries and damages caused by uninsured drivers or when the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient.
UM coverage comes into play when you’re involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t carry any insurance. This coverage also applies to hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver cannot be identified.
On the other hand, UIM coverage kicks in when the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage isn’t sufficient to cover the damages sustained in the accident.
UM/UIM coverage acts as a safety net, ensuring you are financially protected in these situations.
Choosing the Right Coverage Amounts
Choosing the right amount of BIL and UM/UIM coverage in Florida depends on a variety of factors, including your financial situation, risk tolerance, and the value of the assets you need to protect. Here are some considerations when choosing the right amount of coverage:
- Assess Your Assets: The more assets you have, the higher coverage you might need to protect yourself financially. If you’re found at fault in a serious accident, and your coverage limits are too low, you could be sued for the remainder of the costs, which could put your assets at risk.
- Consider Your Budget: Higher coverage limits will lead to higher premiums. Therefore, it’s important to balance your need for protection with what you can realistically afford.
- Evaluate Your Risk: If you drive frequently or in high-risk areas, you may want to consider higher coverage limits.
If you choose to add these coverages to your existing auto policy, insurance companies usually offer them in varying amounts. The selection typically starts at $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident and can go up to $1 million or more, depending on the insurance provider.
Being involved in a car accident can lead to various damages and losses. Having UM/UIM coverage in place can help you seek compensation for these damages. Compensation may include the following:
- Medical Expenses: UM/UIM coverage can help cover medical bills resulting from injuries sustained in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. This includes hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, medication, rehabilitation, and other necessary medical treatments.
- Lost Wages: If the accident leads to injuries that prevent you from working, UM/UIM coverage can provide compensation for the wages lost during your recovery period. This includes both current and future income losses due to disability or reduced earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: UM/UIM coverage may also provide compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering endured due to the accident and resulting injuries. This encompasses the physical discomfort, mental anguish, and diminished quality of life experienced due to the accident.
- Property Damage: In addition to personal injuries, UM/UIM coverage can help cover the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other damaged property resulting from the accident.
- Wrongful Death: In tragic cases where the accident leads to the death of a loved one, UM/UIM coverage can provide compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and the loss of companionship or consortium, which refers to the emotional pain and suffering endured by the surviving family members due to their loved one’s absence.
Common Myths and Misconceptions
Myths and misconceptions often accompany uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Here are some of the common ones:
- Myth: “I don’t need uninsured motorist coverage because I have health insurance.”
Fact: Health insurance may cover medical expenses but does not compensate for other losses, such as property damage or lost wages. Uninsured motorist coverage can help cover these additional costs.
- Myth: “I don’t need underinsured motorist coverage because I have full coverage insurance.”
Fact: Full coverage insurance typically refers to a combination of liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. It does not necessarily include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. It is essential to review your policy to ensure you have adequate protection.
- Myth: “Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is too expensive.”
Fact: While adding uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may increase your premium, the benefits far outweigh the cost. It provides crucial financial protection in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Seeking Legal Assistance After an Accident
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, it’s crucial to contact an experienced car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach as soon as possible.
A knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, guide you through the claims process, and ensure that you receive the full coverage benefits you are entitled to under your UM/UIM policy.
They can also assist you in pursuing compensation for your injuries and damages, including filing a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
If you have questions about UM/UIM coverage or need help after an accident, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced West Palm Beach car crash attorney.
Protect Your Rights – Contact Our Skilled West Palm Beach Car Crash Attorney
Myths and misconceptions about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can put you at risk. Don’t get caught off guard by another driver’s negligence. Take the time to review your insurance policy and consider the benefits of adding UM/UIM coverage.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Don’t navigate the complex legal waters alone. Whether you’re dealing with an uninsured or underinsured driver or the challenges of filing your insurance claim, we’re here to help.
DiBiaggio Law is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has served clients in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties for nearly 30 years. Call us at (561) 473-9800 or complete our online form to schedule your FREE consultation with a knowledgeable and empathetic West Palm Beach car accident attorney. You don’t need to suffer alone!
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.