I have been rear-ended by a drunken driver in his beat up 1972 Chevrolet Impala. He had no car insurance. The driver who hit me is unemployed and has no assets or net worth. The driver was cited with DUI and numerous criminal citations. Filing a lawsuit against this “at fault” driver would be futile because I will likely recover nothing, or possibly, if lucky, the 1972 Chevrolet Impala! What other viable legal recourse do I have after an accident with uninsured motorists, if any?
In the above example, if I possess UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE [UM], I may still be able to recover moneys from my own automobile insurance policy for my permanent bodily injuries and present and future pain and suffering. Unfortunately, in the current economic atmosphere, many people looking to cut costs have done away with their uninsured motorist insurance coverage to their own detriment.
Florida Statute §627.727 provides that “No motor vehicle insurance policy which provides bodily injury liability coverage shall be delivered or issued in Florida…unless uninsured motor vehicle coverage is provided therein, or supplemental thereto…”In plain English, this means that everyone could potentially have uninsured motorist coverage, by law. However, §627.727 also provides that “uninsured motorist coverage may be waived by a particular insured in a policy but only when he or she makes a written rejection of the coverage on behalf of all insureds under the policy.” This means that unless the insured person rejects uninsured motorist coverage in writing, Florida law dictates that the insurance company must issue this coverage to the insured.
Uninsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive, but can be very beneficial in situations like the above example. Additionally, uninsured motorist coverage would apply when a particular driver sustains serious permanent bodily injuries after being hit by a driver who is “underinsured,” or a “phantom” vehicle in a hit and run accident.
Many persons fear having their attorney pursue their own uninsured motorist policy because they assume that their insurance rates may rise or their policies may be cancelled. Although this is a possibility, if a person is not “at fault” in a particular accident, his or her insurance rates should not rise or be cancelled when an attorney pursues uninsured motorist coverage. If you are paying premiums for uninsured motorist coverage, you should feel comfortable using it, when you need it most.
Finally, it would be prudent to seek the advice of an attorney immediately if you are injured in a car accident, when you feel that you are not at fault. An attorney should be able to explore all of the possibilities of recovery on your behalf including uninsured motorist coverage.
COURTESY OF SOKOLOFF & WEINSTEIN, P.A., ATTORNEYS AT LAW, IN ROYAL PALM BEACH.
(561) 790-6788 / 790-4505