By Dan Cytryn, Esquire: You think that if you're in an accident, you're covered. How many times have I heard: "I have full coverage" or "My insurance agent told me I have full coverage"? (Answer: probably 100 plus times in my career). Well guess what! If you're hit by one of the many Florida drivers who have no bodily injury liability coverage, you'll probably recover nothing from the negligent driver or owner of the vehicle that caused the crash, unless you have uninsured motorist coverage.
What exactly is uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and why do I need it?
If you are involved in a car accident caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance, or doesn't have enough insurance to cover your damages, your accident-related expenses will be covered if you have uninsured motorist coverage, up to the limits of that coverage. Uninsured (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) can cover your injuries and your passengers' injuries. It can even cover you and family members who are hit by a car while walking or on a bicycle.
“But I have PIP and collision insurance, why do I need uninsured motorist coverage?”
Uninsured motorist coverage not only will cover medical bills, it will cover you and your family members lost wages, loss of earning capacity, (and even most relatives who live in your household and passengers in your car—with some exceptions). If you have a permanent injury, it will likely cover you and resident relatives damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, physical disability and impairment, and inconvenience.
“But my insurance agent told me I don’t need this coverage!”
Most insurance agents don’t even understand what this coverage is for. Do not rely on your insurance agent. Ask an attorney who specializes in personal injury what kind of coverage you should have.
“Why should I spend the extra money, won’t the other person’s insurance coverage pay for everything”?
The number of people driving without car insurance could be at a record high, according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC). A 2008 study by the IRC estimated that one out of every six U.S. drivers may be uninsured by 2010.
Florida has one of the highest percentages of uninsured drivers in the U.S. The IRC estimates nearly 1 in 4 drivers in Florida are uninsured. Because of the recession and rampant unemployment, many people have reduced or dropped their insurance altogether. In Miami- Dade County, the amount of people driving without insurance coverage is thought to be at least 25%.
Uninsured motorist coverage is not an option; it's a necessity, especially with the number of uninsured drivers on Florida's roads. Many times our law firm has to turn away cases because the negligent driver and owner have no insurance coverage, and the injured person seeking our assistance has no uninsured motorist coverage. Many more times, persons receive less than they are entitled to because, even though they are carrying some uninsured motorist coverage, it is not enough to cover them for the full value of their injuries, damages and losses.
By contrast, Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP) only covers medical and maybe lost wages if you have any benefits remaining, but only up to a maximum of $10,000. Many times, one emergency room visit alone can 'eat up' that $10,000.00
If you have multiple vehicles in your household, you can "stack" the uninsured motorist (UM) coverage from each vehicle. This will increase the amount of coverage available to you should you be involved in an accident in any other vehicle you are in (as long as you are not in a vehicle owned by a relative in your household who does not have that coverage on their vehicle).
If you are a victim involved in a hit and run accident, having uninsured motorist coverage is essential in order to recover damages. Your UM will pay for damages caused by a driver that leaves the scene of the accident, even if the driver is never found.
Stacking Uninsured Motorist Coverage
As car accident lawyers with experience dealing with car crashes involving uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, our advice is to purchase UM coverage that equals the amount of your bodily injury liability limits. We also suggest that you stack your coverage if you have more than one vehicle in your household. Doing so will increase the amount of your uninsured motorist coverage should you become involved in an accident involving one of the "stacked" vehicles.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, and you have questions regarding uninsured motorist coverage, please do not hesitate to call us at 954-255-7000 or toll-free at 1-877-853-7466. We offer a free initial consultation, where we will answer your questions and discuss your case. Visit our website www.personalinjuryfirm.comfor more information, or stop by to see our office here in Coral Springs, where we represent accident and injury victims throughout the State of Florida. Our office address is 2825 North University Drive, Suite 350. Coral Springs, Fl, 33065.
By Dan Cytryn, Esquire
Dan Irving Cytryn is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer handling injury and accident cases in Coral Springs for 36 years. He has received a 10.0 rating on AVVO.com, a lawyer rating service, which is the highest rating given for a lawyer. He is also rated the highest ability and ethics rating, "AV", by Martindale Hubbell, a company rating lawyers for more than 100 years.
The information in this article is for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as legal advice, nor is it to be used as a substitute for a legal consultation. All circumstances are different, and you should contact an attorney for advice for your specific situation.