No matter how cautiously you drive in Miami, you can’t always avoid uninsured motorists. When you navigate the city’s congested streets and highways, you share the road with commuters, local drivers, and a daily influx of tourists. If one of them seriously injures you in a crash, there’s a possibility that they won’t have insurance to compensate you for your injuries. This isn’t a major problem if an accident causes only minimal harm. But when an uninsured driver seriously injures you, the claim process can become quite complicated. A Miami auto accident attorney can address these legal complications and seek compensation on your behalf.
In Florida, you don’t have an automatic right to recover damages for accident-related injuries. You must first prove that another driver caused the accident. You must also prove that your injuries meet one of the state’s tort exemptions. When an uninsured driver has caused the accident, it complicates an already complex situation. If you have Uninsured Motorists coverage on your auto policy, you may be able to make a bodily injury claim against your own insurance company.
Uninsured Drivers in Miami, Florida
A recent report by the Insurance Research Council estimates that, nationally, eight percent of all motorists drive uninsured. In Florida, the estimated percentage of uninsured drivers rises to 20%. For those who do have insurance, Florida Statute §627.736, Required personal injury protection benefits, mandates that most vehicle owners purchase only Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and Property Damage liability coverage.
For most Florida vehicle owners and drivers, Bodily Injury Liability coverage is optional. If your injuries qualify you for a valid liability claim against the other driver, there’s no guarantee that the other driver has the liability coverage to pay your claim. If you have Uninsured Motorist coverage on your own policy, your insurer may owe you compensation for your injuries.
Steps to Take at the Accident Scene
If an uninsured driver crashes into you, you probably won’t know that they’re uninsured until days or weeks later. If you have sustained injuries, it’s important for you to take certain steps to protect your rights immediately following the accident.
1) Don’t Admit Fault
Be careful what you say after an accident. Don’t apologize for your actions and don’t admit fault. If a witness or the other driver hears you, your admission may jeopardize your liability claim.
2) Call 911
Florida statutes require that drivers report any accident involving injuries. If you suspect that you may have an injury, contact the local authorities, and make a formal report. Police officers can’t determine fault, but they certainly can document important facts while at an accident scene. If you make an uninsured motorist claim, a police report helps document the accident for your insurance company.
3) Get Medical Treatment
If you suspect that you sustained an injury, seek medical attention. Symptoms of injuries such as soft tissue sprains, internal damage, and even traumatic brain injuries don’t always show up immediately. A physician can document your emergency treatment and recommend follow-up. Keep records of any medical treatment you receive.
4) Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Personal auto policies usually require policyholders to report a claim if their coverage might apply. If you have medical bills and lost wages, your insurer will set up a PIP claim to pay them. If you find out six months from now that you need to file an uninsured motorist claim, you will have already fulfilled your duty to report the accident.
Seek Help from a Miami Auto Accident Attorney
When an uninsured driver injures you, an experienced auto accident attorney in Miami can explain your legal rights. They can investigate the accident to assess liability and evaluate your injury to determine if the other driver owes you compensation. A car accident attorney can confirm if the other driver has liability insurance or if you have Uninsured Motorists coverage to pay your injury claim.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage Is Primary
When a negligent driver causes an accident in Florida, their liability insurer only pays for the vehicles and property they have damaged. If you or the other driver sustain any injuries, you must turn in a claim to your own auto insurer. PIP is a no-fault type of coverage, so it pays injury-related costs regardless of fault.
PIP benefits cover medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses. They also pay these benefits for a vehicle owner’s passengers and for family members living in the same household.
You May Have a Right to Recover Non-Economic Damages
When someone injures you in an accident, you may have a valid liability claim for pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages. Your injuries must meet one of the tort exemptions outlined in Florida Statutes §627.737.
- Significant/permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
If any of these scenarios applies to you or the loved one you are acting on behalf of, and the negligent driver has no bodily injury liability coverage, you may have a valid uninsured motorist claim.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is optional in Florida. If you purchased this type of coverage, your insurer would handle the injury claim as though they were the other driver’s bodily injury liability carrier. Policy language varies but UM and UIM coverage usually applies when a negligent driver injures you and one of these circumstances occurs:
- The driver leaves the scene unidentified.
- The driver or vehicle owner has no liability insurance.
- The liability insurer declines coverage.
- The liability carrier becomes insolvent.
- The negligent driver has bodily injury liability coverage but not enough to fully compensate you for your injuries (Underinsured Motorist coverage).
When you make a liability claim in Florida, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident. You must also prove that your injuries qualify you for a PIP tort exemption. You deal with your own insurer the way you would have dealt with the negligent driver’s insurance company.
As your PIP carrier, the insurance company should already have your medical and wage loss documentation. Once they confirm that you have a valid claim, you or your Miami auto accident lawyer must negotiate a liability settlement.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Miami
With the help of an experienced auto accident attorney, Miami car crash victims can resolve their injury, liability, and uninsured motorist issues. The experienced attorneys at Aigen Law Firm can interact and negotiate with negligent drivers, their insurers, or their legal representatives. Let us protect your legal rights while you rest and recover.
When you need to know more about an accident claim, contact Aigen Law Firm to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your rights.