It is not uncommon for our Miami Dade County car accident injury law firm to investigate a crash that involves several people in multiple different vehicles. Since Florida law does not require drivers to maintain Bodily Injury Liability (BI) insurance, only those “lucky” enough to be Injured by someone with BI insurance coverage or “smart” enough to purchase enough Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Coverage will be compensated for their pain, suffering, disease and even death. Sadly, most people do not know what kind of insurance coverage they have until after they have been involved in a Florida car, truck or motorcycle crash; and by then it is too late.
Currently, Florida law requires that all car owners obtain Personal Injury Protection of at least $10,000. Typically insurance companies will try to sell you a $2,000 deductible to make the insurance “cheaper.” What the $2,000 deductible does is actually cost the injured money by keeping more of the $10,000 in the insurance companies account. By purchasing PIP with a deductible of $2,000 your are “self insuring” yourself for the first $2,000 of your medical bills regardless of who or what causes your accident. For instance, if you are in a rear-end car crash, caused by no fault of your own, and rushed to the local emergency room, you will be responsible for the first $2,000 of your medical bills, even though the accident was not your fault and even though you had purchased PIP insurance. Essentially all the deductible does is keep more money in the insurance companies account. And when Governor Rick Scott’s new PIP laws set to go into affect in 2013, even getting the remainder of your medical bills paid will be close to impossible.
Florida law also requires that each car owner purchase at least $10,000 in Property Damage Liability or PD. This will pay the damage to the car or property of another, if the crash is your fault. All this tells me is that the body shops must have had a very strong lobby in Tallahassee when this requirement was passed, because somehow they were able to convince the legislature that getting people’s cars repaired was more important than getting their injured body’s medical bills paid or compensating human pain and suffering.
Florida’s auto Insurance companies are notorious for convincing you to buy insurance that is neither needed or legally required such as Comprehensive (damage to your own vehicle not caused by an accident), Collision (damage to your vehicle caused by an accident), Rental Reimbursement or Pet Injury Coverage.
In my opinion after over twenty years of suing a Florida insurance companies after a car accident, I believe that the single most important auto insurance coverage in Florida for you and your family is Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist insurance (UM.) Most insurance companies will go out of their way to discourage you from obtaining UM because that is the single most likely coverage that they will have to pay. We are currently representing a family plus three passengers that was involved in a car crash where they defendant only has a $10,000/$20,000 Bodily Injury policy. In other words, the most the policy will pay is $10,000 per person or $20,000 for the entire accident. The problem is that there are more claimants than there is coverage. Unfortunately, none of the injured passengers had purchased UM coverage forcing the five claimants to try to divide up a very limited amount of coverage. Sometimes this can result in protracted litigation between the insurance company, their own insured and those who have been injured in the crash. Had our clients purchased UM coverage they would have protected themselves in the event they were involved in a crash with a driver that either did not have coverage or did not have enough coverage to satisfy the value of the claim.
As a South Florida lawyer who sues people who have been hit by drunk drivers recommends that anyone who owns or operates a car, truck or motorcycle in Florida purchase at least $100,000 in UM coverage. This is not so that you receive a windfall in the event of a tragedy, but rather to make sure that you can receive the appropriate medical care and assistance in the event that a Florida driver hits you with either no insurance or inadequate coverage to compensate you for your loss.
As our economy deteriorates, we predict we will see more and more car crashes in Florida with drivers without insurance. Currently UM insurance coverage is the only way to make sure are protected should you or a family member who lives with you are involved in a catastrophic traffic accident.