You get into an accident and suffer serious injuries. As medical bills pile up, you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. However, the at-fault driver only carried the bare minimum auto insurance policy, and you quickly reach the limit. What can you do? Where can you turn for help?
This is an all-too-common scenario. While Florida law does require all drivers to carry auto insurance, most drivers carry the minimum amount. This is often insufficient to cover medical expenses and damages after an auto accident. When this occurs, hiring an experienced car accident attorney is crucial. You may need to take legal action and file a lawsuit to collect the money you deserve. Or you may need to turn to your own insurance policy.
Before you decide what to do, meet with a car accident lawyer at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., to explore your legal options. You deserve answers and justice, and we can give you both.
Florida’s Car Insurance Requirements
Every driver in Florida must carry car insurance. However, not all do. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida has some of the most uninsured drivers in the country. A surprising 20.4 percent of all drivers on the road in Florida are uninsured.
Every car insurance policy in Florida must cover at least $10,000 in property damage liability and $10,000 for personal injury protection, as mandated by law. However, bodily injury liability insurance is not mandatory in Florida. If you are involved in a car accident in Florida, the other driver may not have sufficient insurance to cover your damages or injuries.
Insurance companies may offer you additional UM/UIM coverage, but Florida drivers are not required by law to pay for this additional coverage.
Understanding the other driver’s insurance coverage is essential to ensure a fair settlement for your losses. An experienced car crash attorney can assist you in navigating the legal complexities and negotiating with the insurance company to obtain the compensation you are entitled to.
Did Your Car Accident Claim Exceed Insurance Limits?
If your car accident claim exceeds insurance limits, you may not know what to do and where you can turn. Medical bills keep piling up, but the insurance company won’t pay more than the limit. What can you do?
When the insurance company only pays up to the policy limit, injured accident victims must decide whether to take legal action or seek compensation from their own policy.
Understanding Insurance Limits
The first step in understanding what happens when a car accident claim exceeds insurance limits is understanding what insurance limits are. Insurance limits are the maximum amount that an insurance company will pay for damages resulting from an accident. These limits are typically stated in the insurance policy and can vary depending on the type of coverage.
If the at-fault driver has the minimum insurance policy in Florida, they may not even have bodily injury coverage.
If the car accident damages exceed the insurance limits, the at-fault driver is still responsible for paying the remaining amount. This can include medical bills, property damage, and other expenses related to the accident. But what if they can’t afford it?
Two Ways to Collect Compensation After a Claim Exceeds Policy Limits
Florida is a no-fault state. Injured car accident victims must turn to their PIP (personal injury protection) policy to pay for the first $10,000 in damages. Even if your auto insurance carrier pays all $10,000.00 of your personal injury protection benefits, you will still owe your medical providers more money because PIP pays just 80% of the bill. Once you exhaust your PIP, you must almost always file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver to collect more compensation. It is important to note that nothing prevents an individual from filing a claim with the at-fault driver before exhausting their own PIP benefits.
However, recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering, your injuries must meet the “serious injury” threshold defined by Florida Statute 627.737. This includes injuries resulting in significant or permanent loss of an essential bodily function, permanent disfigurement or scarring, permanent injuries, or death. A medical provider can usually opine whether the injury is considered permanent.
It’s worth noting that vehicle damage claims stemming from a car accident in Florida are not subject to the no-fault system. Instead, you can file a liability claim against the at-fault driver for property damage.
If the at fault party’s insurance is limited and you exhaust their policy, you must decide what to do next. Generally, you have two choices: turn to your insurance policy if you have UM/UIM coverage or file a car accident lawsuit.
Turn to Your UM/UIM Policy
If you purchased Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, your car accident lawyer could help you collect the money you need through that policy. While these policies won’t be enough to cover serious injuries, they can help bridge the gap while you’re recovering. They may also be enough to cover minor injuries and get you back on your feet.
Filing a Florida Car Accident Lawsuit
If the at-fault driver cannot pay the remaining expenses out of pocket, the injured party may choose to take legal action against them. This can involve filing a car accident lawsuit to recover the remaining damages. This includes money for medical bills, future medical care, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.
Car accident lawsuits are based on negligence. To build your case, your lawyer must prove that the at-fault driver caused your accident. They must gather evidence, such as dashcam coverage and eyewitness testimony, to establish liability and build your personal injury case.
How Can a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you are involved in a car accident in Florida and the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are exceeded, a car accident lawyer can be a valuable asset in helping you recover compensation for your damages and losses.
One way a Florida car accident lawyer can help is by identifying additional sources of compensation beyond the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. For instance, if the at-fault driver was driving for work, their employer’s insurance may cover the accident. Alternatively, the manufacturer may be liable if a defective car part caused the accident. A skilled attorney can investigate the accident and identify any and all potential sources of compensation.
In addition, a car accident lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement that covers the full extent of your damages. If the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, the lawyer can file a lawsuit and represent you in court. If the insurance company fails to settle the injury case for a settlement that is equal to or less than their insured’s (the at-fault party) bodily injury policy they may have acted in bad faith. Consequently, the insurance carrier may be responsible for paying an amount that exceeds their insured’s bodily injury insurance coverage. This only happens in very limited situations where the insurance carrier knew or should have known that the case was worth more than the insurance available but refused to tender their insured’s bodily injury policy.
Moreover, if you have suffered serious injuries that require ongoing medical care and rehabilitation, a car accident lawyer can help you obtain the necessary medical treatment and coordinate with medical professionals to document your injuries and losses.
Contact Our Florida Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a car accident, you need a law firm that understands what you’re going through. You need someone who will fight for you and the compensation you deserve – even if the at-fault driver’s insurance policy gets exhausted.
At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a serious accident can take on your life. That’s why we are committed to doing everything possible to help you get back on your feet and obtain the compensation you deserve.
When you hire us to represent you, you will get personalized attention and compassionate representation from the start. Our attorneys work closely with you to understand your case and develop a customized legal strategy just for you.
Our team of experienced accident injury attorneys has a proven track record of success in helping clients recover compensation for a wide range of damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. We will use our extensive knowledge of Florida law and our network of expert witnesses and medical professionals to build a strong case on your behalf.
Let us help you through this difficult time. For a free and confidential consultation, call (305) 694-2676 or schedule a consultation using our online contact form. At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we will do our best to use every resource available to help you get back on your feet and obtain the compensation you deserve.