Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Accidents
There are several different types of automobile accident insurance coverage available in Florida, such as property damage, personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. If you have been seriously injured or lost a family member in a motor vehicle collision, you need to know as much as possible about both your own coverage and the coverage of the person responsible for the accident. The Pembroke Pines uninsured motorist accident attorneys at Cohn & Smith can help Pembroke Pines residents and other individuals understand their rights and options.Satisfying Personal Injury Judgments and Settlements under Florida Law
Usually, an injured person’s PIP coverage will pay medical expenses after a crash up to a certain amount, regardless of fault. In minor accident cases, a plaintiff may be satisfied with having his or her medical expenses paid under PIP, and the case ends there. In more serious injury cases, or in cases of wrongful death, the victim has a right to file a lawsuit in a court of law seeking damages from the person or persons who caused the crash.
If an automobile accident results in a lawsuit, the plaintiff in the case will proceed under a theory of negligence. This means that he or she must show, by a preponderance of the evidence, four things: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Once these elements are proven, a verdict can be entered in favor of the injured person. If he or she was partially at fault for the accident, the judgment may be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff under Florida’s comparative fault law.
Once a judgment has been entered, or a settlement has been reached, the next step is the collection of the judgment. There are generally three ways to do this in a car accident case:
- Using the defendant’s liability insurance;
- Attaching the defendant’s assets (such as bank accounts, automobiles, homes, and business property); and
- Using the plaintiff’s uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.
In situations in which the defendant is fully insured, the insurance adjuster simply writes a check in the amount of the judgment or settlement. In situations in which the defendant has no insurance or too little insurance but does have assets, the process is more complicated and involves attaching assets before usually liquidating them.
If the defendant does not have any insurance or any assets that can be attached, the plaintiff’s only realistic option is to proceed under his or her own uninsured/uninsured motorist liability insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the Florida Insurance Council reports that nearly one in four drivers in the Sunshine State has no automobile accident liability insurance. This means that, statistically speaking, a person who is injured in a Florida car wreck has about a 25% chance of the other party being uninsured. In addition to uninsured drivers who have no insurance coverage at all, there are a great many “underinsured” drivers as well. These drivers have only minimal coverage, which often does not fully compensate an injured party in the event of an accident.
Unfortunately, simply having UM coverage does not mean that the plaintiff’s insurance company will be willing to settle out of court for an amount that the plaintiff believes will fully compensate him or her for the medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs and losses that he or she suffered because of the accident. In many situations, the plaintiff must file suit against his or her own insurance company in order to get a fair and adequate settlement or judgment.Discuss Your Auto Accident Case with a Pembroke Pines Uninsured Motorist Accident Attorney
If you or a family member has been hurt in an accident in Pembroke Pines or the surrounding area, the injury attorneys at Cohn & Smith can help you decide what course of action may be appropriate. Call us at 954-431-8100 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We represent accident victims throughout South Florida, including in Pembroke Pines, Tamarac, and Pompano Beach. Many of our cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless you recover damages.