I have represented thousands of individuals and their families in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents, and I believe the single greatest factor in determining the value of a traffic accident claim in Florida is not the injury, or property damage, not the age of the victim, and not even the facts of how the accident happened. Rather, the single most important factor is the collectability of a settlement, verdict, or judgment. Yes, even in the most catastrophic accidents, if there is no adequate insurance or liquidable assets, the injured victim and his or her family will never receive justice. This is because if you cannot collect money for the injury, it won’t matter how badly hurt the person is. The old saw is that you cannot get blood from a stone, and sadly I have seen dozens of families who have been destroyed by a careless driver, but go without just compensation because of inadequate insurance to pay a claim.
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Florida is a particularly strange jurisdiction because Florida law requires that the owners of vehicles maintain only the minimum coverage of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and Property Damage (PD). Most people erroneously believe that if they have purchased PIP and PD, they have full coverage. This is sadly incorrect and often leads to their not obtaining the coverage needed to compensate them for the pain and suffering, lost wages, and significant medical expenses associated with a traffic accident.
Florida Car Accidents & Florida’s Auto Insurance Law
I have written about this before, but Florida’s auto insurance law is designed to protect the profits and financial interests of the insurance industry and hospitals, at the expense of the injured. Most people are shocked to learn that they have been sold insurance (PIP and PD) that covers nothing but medical expenses under very strict limitations as well as the damage caused to another’s vehicle or property. They cannot believe that this “full coverage” leaves them and their families completely uninsured in the event of a real accident with devastating consequences.
However, there is hope, and I hope that in writing these blogs and shooting these videos, I can help Florida’s drivers become informed and educated about the web of misinformation promulgated by the insurance industry and their “agents” and instead obtain the necessary coverage to truly protect themselves. It starts with UM–or uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. UM coverage will pay you if you are in an accident caused by or in part by a driver who has only PIP and PD (most Florida drivers) or even no insurance at all (another large portion of Florida drivers).
Pull out your insurance card: The typical card will have a bunch of letters and numbers that make little or no sense to the average lay person. Ask your agent for a copy of your declaration of insurance, and specifically ask the agent if you have purchased Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. We recommend that you carry at least $25,000 in UM coverage, and if your household has more than one vehicle, you can stack the UM coverage, giving you the benefits of the policies on both cars. For example, if the household includes two UM-insured cars with $25,000 each and the policies are stacked, an injured family member would be entitled to $50,000 in coverage.
Confused? We offer a free insurance evaluation and audit to help you better understand your coverage and ensure that you have obtained the correct insurance for your family. No one wants to discuss car insurance, wills, or taxes. They’re not exciting things to analyze. However, if you are a parent or spouse or have dependent family members, you owe them the best possible protection in the event you are injured, disabled, or worse.
I carry a million dollars in UM coverage, a fact I share not to impress you, but to impress upon you the importance of maintaining adequate coverage. If I am injured, disabled, or killed in a car accident, my family, employees, and clients still depend on my ability to properly take care of them. God forbid, if I were disabled and needed lifetime care, a million dollars would go very quickly–it probably would not be enough.
If Florida mandated that all owners of vehicles maintain bodily injury coverage to compensate those injured by auto negligence, I would be less concerned and less adamant in my recommendation to purchase UM coverage. However, Florida does not require this, so it is up to us–as some may argue it should be–to protect ourselves.
Contacting a Florida Car Accident Lawyer to File a Claim
Please purchase UM coverage, and if you have any questions about it–or if you have been injured in a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident anywhere in the State of Florida, from Jacksonville to Key West–call us for a free initial consultation, and let our Miami personal injury lawyers help protect your legal rights. We are available by email at [email protected], toll-free telephone at 1-866-597-4529, locally at 305-441-440, or SKYPE. Call us today–we are ready to help.