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What to Do When Hit by an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A.  April 9, 2024

An auto accident is a taxing experience, but when the driver at fault is uninsured or underinsured, it can easily become overwhelming. In such moments, beyond the physical and emotional turmoil, the question arises: who will bear the financial burden of the resulting injury and vehicle damage?   

At the Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A., we put together this comprehensive guide that will walk you through the essential steps you need to take if you find yourself in the aftermath of a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist in the state of Florida.   

Required Insurance Coverage in Florida  

Before exploring an uninsured or underinsured claim, it's important to understand Florida's unique insurance requirements. Florida differs from many states in that it is a 'no-fault' insurance state. This means that regardless of who is at fault for an accident, each person's own insurance will cover their financial losses up to the personal injury protection (PIP) limit.  

Additionally, Florida does not require bodily injury liability coverage for drivers. Instead, it allows for a set minimum for property damage liability. It is significant to note that these minimums can often fall short of covering the entirety of damages in a severe accident, particularly those caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists.  

The minimum insurance coverage available is listed as —/—/10, or $10,000 for property damage liability. The state's emphasis on no-fault insurance also highlights the importance of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. While the law may protect against drivers in your state under a no-fault system, it is always wise to up your coverage.  

No-Fault Insurance  

Often misunderstood, no-fault insurance avoids the need for protracted legal battles to establish fault, ensuring that the injured parties are compensated quickly and without the need for litigation. While the benefits from PIP coverage are limited, uninsured/underinsured motorist provisions can bridge the gap when the at-fault driver's insurance is insufficient or nonexistent.  

Within the no-fault system, your PIP insurance will cover your medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages whether or not the accident is your fault. The key is to understand the limitations of this coverage and when to depend on additional provisions like uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. No-fault insurance also provides quick action and hassle-free disbursements, making sure that medical expenses are covered promptly, which can be a vital service after you've just been involved in an accident.  

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Provisions

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage caters to car accident victims who have been hit by a driver who does not have auto insurance. Conversely, underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage applies when the at-fault driver's insurance limits are insufficient to cover the full extent of your damages. UM/UIM can extend to medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. In Florida, this additional protection provides a crucial safety net.  

Understanding your UM/UIM coverage is as essential as understanding your standard auto policy. It can be a lifesaving backup plan if you find yourself in the aftermath of a UM/UIM auto accident.  

Steps to Take if You Were Hit by an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

Being involved in an auto accident can be overwhelming, and the shock can lead victims to potentially miss critical steps that would significantly strengthen their case. However, when the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, the right actions can make all the difference in securing fair compensation:  

  • Collect Information at the Scene: After verifying the safety of all parties involved, gather as much information as possible from the scene. This includes the other driver's contact details, vehicle information, and any witness accounts. Remember, your smartphone is a powerful tool for documenting the aftermath of an accident.  

  • Report the Accident: When hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you must report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. This promptness will help to expedite the claims process and demonstrate that you are acting in good faith.  

  • Seek Medical Help: Seek medical attention immediately, even if your injuries seem minor. This medical documentation will be crucial in your claim for compensation and will ensure that you receive the care you need to recover fully.  

  • Gather Evidence: Document all your losses thoroughly, from medical expenses to lost wages and vehicle damage. Keep records of all correspondences with your insurance company and any other involved parties.  

  • Consult a Legal Expert: Seeking a legal expert's advice is often the best decision for ensuring that you understand your rights and maximize your potential compensation.  

The Role of a Car Accident Attorney

Car accident attorneys are experienced in handling personal injury cases and will guide you through the claims process, making sure you don't settle for less than what is fair. If necessary, they will also represent you in court.  

If your injuries are significant, or you lack insurance coverage for most of your losses, an attorney can help you assess your case and provide you with the advice you need to move forward.  

Seek Experienced Legal Support

The aftermath of a car accident can be fraught with uncertainty, and navigating insurance claims and personal injury in a no-fault state like Florida calls for a diligent and strategic approach. While no one anticipates being hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, knowing how to respond and having a clear plan in place can make sure you are prepared to handle the subsequent challenges effectively. 

At the Law Offices of McCullough & Leboff, P.A., helping you understand UM/UIM coverage and securing you the compensation you are entitled to is my priority. Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I proudly serve clients throughout Davie, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Sunrise, and Plantation.