What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Florida mandates that all drivers have minimum car insurance. Unfortunately, some drivers disregard the law. They operate their vehicles without insurance.
When you are seriously injured in a car accident, you expect compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. You expect the company to pay you for your financial losses, medical bills, and other damages.
If the other driver does not have insurance coverage, you could be stuck with medical bills and other expenses you cannot afford to pay. Is there anything you can do when the other driver does not have insurance?
Table of Contents
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
Before discussing your options for receiving money for a car accident caused by an uninsured driver, we need to discuss Florida’s no-fault insurance laws.
Florida is one of a dozen or so states that use no-fault insurance for car accident claims. You are required to purchase no-fault car insurance coverage in the amount of:
- $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL)
Your PIP coverage pays 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages up to the policy limits. However, you must meet specific requirements. For example, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days after the accident.
Personal Injury Protection does not compensate you for other damages, including pain and suffering.
Drivers file claims against their PIP coverage regardless of who caused the accident. Therefore, it might not matter whether the driver had insurance if your injuries are minor and your PIP insurance covers your claim.
Meeting the Serious Injury Threshold
Before you can sue another driver for car accident injuries, you must meet the serious injury threshold. Serious injuries are defined by statute as injuries that result in:
- Permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injuries or disabilities
If your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you can sue the at-fault driver for compensation of damages. The types of damages available in a lawsuit against an at-fault driver include full reimbursement for all medical expenses and loss of income.
However, you can also recover compensation for your non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include permanent impairments, such as scarring, disabilities, and disfigurements.
Non-economic damages also include the loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering you experienced after the car crash.
Florida Does Not Require Drivers to Purchase Liability Insurance
Unfortunately, Florida does not require drivers to have liability car insurance. Liability car insurance compensates you for your damages when the insured driver causes a car accident.
If the driver does not have liability insurance, he is not breaking the law as long as he has PIP insurance coverage. However, the other driver’s PIP coverage does not apply to your damages.
You could file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver seeking compensation for your injuries. However, most drivers who do not voluntarily purchase liability insurance generally do not have the income or assets to pay a personal judgment. Therefore, suing the uninsured driver for damages could be a waste of time and money.
There could be other options available to you for compensation after a car wreck. If you purchased uninsured motorist coverage as part of your liability insurance policy, you could collect compensation from your insurance company.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance and Florida Car Accidents
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is not required in Florida. You can purchase the coverage as part of your liability car insurance coverage.
UM coverage compensates you for damages and injuries caused by an uninsured driver. Your insurance provider “stands in the shoes of” the at-fault driver.
However, having uninsured motorist coverage and receiving compensation for a UM claim are two separate matters. Your car insurance company can use the same arguments that another insurance provider would use to challenge your uninsured motorist claim.
For example, your insurance company could argue that your actions contributed to the cause of the crash. According to Florida’s comparative fault statute, the compensation you receive for your UM claim can be reduced by the percentage of blame you have for causing the car crash.
Your insurance company could also deny your claim by alleging you were the driver who caused the accident. It could also allege that an exclusion in your insurance policy does not cover your accident.
Another argument your insurance provider could use is that your injuries do not meet the serious injury threshold for suing an at-fault driver for compensation of damages.
The key takeaway is that having uninsured motorist coverage does not guarantee that you will receive compensation for an accident involving an uninsured driver. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer to file a civil remedy notice with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to resolve the dispute or proceed with a civil lawsuit in state court.
Notice Requirement and Mandatory ADR
The time limit to notify your uninsured motorist insurance company about a potential claim could be very short. Notifying your insurance company of a potential claim protects your right to file a claim at a later date. Make sure to notify the company in writing and keep a copy of the notice for your records.
An issue you could encounter when filing an uninsured motorist claim is a mandatory arbitration or mediation. Many insurance companies include requirements for mediation or arbitration in the contract.
If the contract calls for binding arbitration, you lose your right to file a lawsuit if you do not like the outcome of the arbitration proceeding.
Before filing an uninsured motorist claim, you might want a car accident lawyer to review your insurance contract. The attorney explains your legal rights regarding an insurance claim. He also discusses the options you have to receive compensation under your uninsured motorist coverage.
Property Damage Claims and Uninsured Drivers
The damage to your vehicle is another problem when an uninsured driver hits you. Your PDL coverage does not pay to repair or replace your vehicle after a car accident.
However, collision insurance could cover the repairs to your vehicle. Collision insurance is optional insurance coverage. If you are covered, your insurance company pays to repair or replace your vehicle.
If you have a loan secured by your car title, the collision insurance pays the loan in full or up to your policy limits. You receive compensation for any remaining fair market value above the loan amount.
Call Our Tampa Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
Car accident insurance can be tricky in Florida. Our Tampa car accident attorneys review your case during a free consultation. We serve the Tampa Bay area including Clearwater and New Port Richey, FL.
Learn about your options for seeking compensation for damages after a car accident with an uninsured driver. You may have more options available to you for compensation than you realize.