Why Won’t My Car Accident Lawyer Sue an Uninsured Driver?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 26.7% of Floridians have no insurance. That means if you get in an accident in Florida, there is a very good chance the person that caused the car crash will have no insurance. This could potentially leave the innocent victim on the hook for thousands of dollars in car repair bills and medical bills. Florida leads the nation in the dubious distinction of have the most uninsured drivers on the road.
Top States (Highest and Lowest Uninsured Rates)
These numbers are frightening, but Florida also has the lowest insurance minimums in the entire country at 10/20. Meaning that no matter what your injuries may be, the insurance company will only pay you $10,000.00 for your injuries.
Too many times I have had to sit down with a client who was in a car accident or motorcycle accident with an uninsured driver and tell them we cannot sue the driver that caused the accident. The next question invariably is, “why can’t we sue the driver that caused my accident?” The answer is of course we can sue the driver that caused the accident. The issue is that it is just not generally practical because Florida law protects debtors. Personal injury cases are expensive to try and if someone is hit with a large judgment…they usually just file bankruptcy and all of the time, effort and money to obtain that judgment is wasted.
At Jones Law Group, we will run asset search on the uninsured motorist that caused your injuries to ensure they have no assets. It is a long shot, but we feel we need to exhaust every possible avenue of collection for our clients.
What does 10/20 mean?
Insurance jargon can be confusing and even daunting for the average person. What does it mean when I say that Florida has the lowest minimum insurance at 10/20? It means if you get in an accident, the insurance will pay up to $10,000 per person with a maximum of $20,000 on everyone injured in the accident. If the insurance is a 50/100 policy that means it will pay $50,000 per person up to a maximum of $100,000 for everyone injured in the accident.
Insurance Terms Defined
Here is a list of insurance terms that you might encounter when dealing with your car insurance.
Adjuster: The person who investigates and settles insurance claims. This person is employed by the insurance company and will attempt to settle the claim for as little as possible.
Agent: A person who sells insurance on behalf of an insurance company. Some insurance agents are dedicated to a single company and others can write policies for many companies.
At-Fault Accident: Any accident, regardless of size or amount paid, in which the driver was wholly or partially at fault. At fault accidents will cause a substantial jump in your insurance premiums.
Bodily Injury (BI): Injury, sickness, disease or death that results from an auto accident.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: Protects your assets if you are responsible for an accident where other people are injured or killed.
Claim: The amount of money a person(s) believes he or she should be paid by an insurance company as a result of an accident. Can be for property damage, bodily injury or both.
Claimant: A person who makes an insurance claim.
Collision Coverage: Pays to repair or replace your vehicle if you hit something else and no one else is at fault. Does not include collision with animals.
Comprehensive Coverage: Provides financial protection for damage caused by a number of causes other than an auto accident, including vandalism, fire, theft, flood, falling tree limbs, hail and collision with animals.
Coverage: The insurance protection in a policy.
Declarations Page (Dec Page): Forms part of the policy and contains information such as when, where and to whom the policy applies.
Deductible: The amount of the loss the insured agrees to pay before the insurance company pays – up to the policy limits – if one applies.
Effective Date: The starting date of the insurance policy.
Full coverage: Though there is no such thing as “full coverage,” it is a common term used to describe the amount of auto insurance coverage someone has, and typically implies that the policy has at least liability, comprehensive and collision coverage.
Gap insurance: Lease and loan gap insurance coverage helps pay the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the amount still owed on the lease or loan in the event of a total loss.
Insurance Amount/Limit: The maximum amount/limit an insurance company would pay in the event of an accident.
Insured: The person protected under an insurance policy.
Insurer: The insurance company that provides insurance coverage and services.
Lapse: A policy that expires or cancels because the insured did not pay the premium amount.
Mandatory Insurance: When state law requires that auto owners/operators have auto insurance. Requirements vary from state to state.
Medical Expense Coverage (Med Pay): This pays medical expenses of the policyholder and any passengers injured while in the insured auto. This coverage also pays the medical expenses of the policyholder and members of his or her family who are injured while riding in any other auto or struck by any auto.
Minimum Limits: The minimum insurance limits as required by your state’s laws.
Named Insured: The first person named on the application is the primary named insured, and the second person named on the application is the secondary named insured. These are the policyholders named on the declaration page.
No-Fault Automobile Insurance: Coverage to compensate victims of automobile accidents without having to prove who was at fault in causing the accident
Non-renewal: When an insurance company decided not to renew a policy.
Personal Injury Protection: Often referred to as “PIP” or “No-Fault” insurance. PIP pays covered medical expenses, and in some states lost wages and other damages — up to the limits of your policy — if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Policy: A formal written insurance contract describing the term, coverage, premiums and deductibles.
Policyholder: The person who applied for, pays for, and is issued the insurance policy.
Premium: The amount of money an insurance company charges to provide coverage.
Property Damage Liability Insurance: Covers the insured if legally responsible for the damage to the property of others.
Rental reimbursement coverage: Reimburses you a set daily amount for a rental car if your car is being repaired due to damage covered by your auto insurance policy.
Subrogation: In insurance, subrogation substitutes one party (insurer) for another party (insured) in order to pursue any rights that the insured may have against a third party who is liable for a loss. For example: If you are injured and it is another person’s fault, your insurance company may pay your claim and then pursue (collect) the damages from the other person or his or her insurance carrier.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM coverage): Helps pay for damages to your insured car when the damages are caused by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured or caused by a hit-and-run driver. Not available in all states. This is the most important coverage you purchase because it protect you and the people in your car if you are injured by an uninsured driver or a driver that does not have enough coverage to compensate you for your injuries.
What is PIP?
PIP insurance is the reason people refer to Florida as a no fault state. Every insurance policy provides the driver $10,000.00 in immediate coverage for payment of medical bills. When you are injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident regardless of fault, your own insurance company will immediately begin processing medical bills on your behalf. The goal was to reduce out of pocket expenses for the driver instead of having medical bills pile up and potentially ruining your credit.
What is Full Coverage Insurance?
“Full Coverage” auto insurance is a myth. If you are asking an insurance agent about full coverage, she is likely discussing auto insurance that includes the following coverages:
- PIP Coverage – PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection, a type of no-fault insurance coverage that pays medical bills and lost wages in the event of a Florida accident. It is important to understand how PIP coverage works in Florida since a delay in seeing medical professionals after an accident can reduce the amount of PIP coverage available pay your medical bills incurred due to the car accident or motorcycle accident.
- Property Damage Coverage – Property damage covers the damages you cause to other property in a car crash. This can include damages to cars, motorcycles, busses, trees, mailboxes, signs or any other property you might happen to damage in an accident. In Florida, everyone must carry a minimum of $10,000.00. If you cause more than $10,000.00 in damage you could be left owing the balance if you have not purchased insurance with higher limits. Property damage coverage does not cover the damage to your own vehicle regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
- Bodily Injury Coverage – If you cause an injury to someone in your auto accident, bodily injury coverage will cover the injured person’s medical bills, loss of income and pain and suffering. It is important to note, bodily injury coverage only will pay up to the amount you have chosen for your policy limit. If you choose a low amount like $10,000.00, you could be left owing the injured party’s injuries that are above your limits. Bodily injury coverage does not cover injuries to you! It also does not cover injuries to your passengers in a car accident caused by another driver.
- Collision Coverage – You bought full coverage and you might be surprised to learn this is the first coverage that covers damages to your car. That’s right, most Floridians do not even protect their own cars. For many of us, our car is our most expensive possession and if someone without insurance or enough insurance causes it to be totaled in a car accident, people with collision coverage are just out of luck.
- Comprehensive Coverage – In Florida, the risk of flooding is a risk we all deal with. Your comprehensive coverage will cover you in that event. It also covers cracked windshields and other damages that aren’t caused by a collision such as fire, theft, natural disasters, falling objects, or vandalism.
What is not Included in “Full Coverage” Insurance?
I have clients come and proudly tell me they have “full coverage” insurance. And truthfully, they are doing better than most Floridians, but full coverage is by no means complete coverage. The list below is by no means complete, but several of the coverages are important to many people and there is one that should be important to everyone and that one coverage is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM) – This is the most important additional insurance you can purchase. When you purchased your full coverage policy, you thought you were being covered in every contingency, but the vast majority of Floridians do not have insurance or have not purchased enough insurance to compensate you in the event they seriously injure you in a car or motorcycle accident. That is where the UM coverage comes in to play. It picks up the slack left by others and provides compensation for your injuries above and beyond the at-fault driver’s liability limits up to the limit you have chosen.
- Custom Parts and Equipment Coverage – At Jones Law Group we represent many motorcyclists and car enthusiasts who have spent countless hours and significant sums of money to modify their rides. Without this coverage, those custom parts and equipment packages are not reimbursed by the insurance company. The motorcycle with the custom powder coating and LED lighting is valued like the stock model she used to be.
- Rental Car Coverage – This one is pretty straightforward, but many people are shocked when they find they cannot get a rental car while they wait for fault to be determined and adjustors to visit their vehicle and a check to be cut. It is not very expensive and it is invaluable.
- Medical Payments – This coverage will provide payments directly to the medical providers for injuries suffered by you, the passengers in your vehicle or any pedestrians you may injure. It is a supplemental coverage to your health insurance. It covers medical payments such as health insurance deductibles and co-pays, visits to a doctor or hospital, X-rays and surgery, ambulance and emergency medical technician fees, rehabilitation and nursing care, and some medical equipment, such as prostheses. The coverage takes effect regardless of which driver is considered at fault for the accident
Whether your accident happened on US 19N, or at a dangerous intersection on Park Blvd, 34th St or 49th St or anywhere in between, it is important that you seek experienced representation. Jones Law Group is an award winning law firm that has fought for the residents of Pinellas Park when they have been injured in an accident.
Our dedicated team will thoroughly investigate the factors that led to your accident and aggressively seek compensation from each responsible party. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at 727-571-1333.