What happens if an uninsured driver hits you?
If you operate a motor vehicle in Florida, you’re legally required to carry a minimally acceptable amount of auto insurance. Many motorists, however, operate without insurance or without an acceptable amount of insurance. In fact, about 13% of all drivers in the U.S. drive without insurance.
Florida leads the nation with the highest percentage of uninsured drivers (26.7%), which is 2.2 times higher than the national average. That means that one in four drivers is uninsured.
It’s a scary feeling to know that so many drivers on the road do not have car insurance coverage. So, what happens if an uninsured driver hits you? Who will pay for your medical expenses or vehicle damage? Is it even necessary to contact an attorney?
Here’s what you need to know:
You’ll Have to File a Claim with Your Insurance Company First
If you’re involved in a car accident in Florida, you actually don’t have to worry about whether the other party has insurance coverage. At least not right away. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that every driver involved in an accident is required to recover benefits from their own personal car insurance policy first, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Section 627.733 of the Florida Statutes mandates that every driver carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. This covers you, your household relatives, and passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident, whether you are at fault or not. If you are injured in a car accident, your PIP will compensate you for 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages, up to the policy limit. You’ll be responsible for the remaining 20%.
What if Your Medical Bills Exceed Your PIP Limit?
The no-fault insurance system provides some relief for those worried about uninsured motorists. However, $10,000 is not very much money when your injuries are considered severely disfiguring or permanent. Also, PIP does not compensate for other damages, such as emotional trauma and pain and suffering.
Florida being a no-fault state doesn’t mean you can’t file a lawsuit if you’re injured in a car accident. If your injuries are significant and your medical bills exceed the limits of your PIP coverage, you have the right to sue the other driver for damages.
But what if the diver is uninsured? A motorist who fails to carry the required insurance at the time of the crash isn’t immune from tort liability. That means that you can still sue them for any additional medical expenses or lost wages.
Is Suing an Uninsured Motorist Worth It?
While you can sue an uninsured driver for damages, the big question is, “Is it worth it?”
This depends on several factors. For instance, you need to consider whether the driver can afford to pay for your damages. In most cases, drivers who cannot afford the minimum coverage don’t have much money or assets. So, even if you sue the uninsured driver and win a judgment, they might not be able to pay you.
In the same vein, filing a lawsuit is quite costly. You’ll need to pay court fees, and if you retain an attorney, you should consider attorney’s fees and other additional expenses. There’s no point in filing a case if the defendant cannot satisfy the judgment.
What’s more, the at-fault driver might file bankruptcy, protecting themselves from judgment. If you cannot recover damages from an uninsured driver, a lawsuit might not be worth it.
However, we don’t have to dismiss all uninsured drivers as being financially challenged. Some can afford to pay you, in which case you may want to consider suing them to recover the damages.
Why You Need to Work With a Car Accident Attorney
Working with a car accident attorney becomes paramount in such a case. An attorney can run an asset and credit check on the driver to reveal their financial status. If the assessment confirms that the insured driver has assets (investments, property, valuables, etc.), your lawyer might advise you to file a lawsuit. Liquidation of assets may be an option to get you the compensation you need.
If the defendant refuses or fails to make payment toward the settlement, your lawyer can help you apply for a court order to compel them to pay. After establishing that the defendant pay for the judgment, the court may set up a flexible payment plan that the defendant can manage. Other ways to collect compensation include:
- Garnishing the defendant’s bank account or wages
- Putting a lien on their property
- Suspending their license until payment is made
- Seizing property with a levy
Protect Yourself from Uninsured Drivers
Because of the sheer number of uninsured drivers on Florida roads, it’s important to increase your protection against auto collisions with uninsured drivers. One protection method is to pick up additional coverage, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage. This can cover you and your passenger when you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver whose limits are too low.
What Happens if an Un insured Driver Hits You? – Contact the St. Pete Car Accident Attorney at JB Law
Whether you’ve been hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you’ll want to contact an experienced car accident attorney. Even if your injuries are seemingly minor, it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself financially.
The car accident attorney at JB Law Firm can assess the facts of your case and choose the path that is best for you. We can help you navigate the complex legal system and get the compensation you need. Contact us today for a free legal consultation for car accidents, personal injuries, and criminal defense.