How can Florida drivers protect themselves from uninsured motorists?

There are steps that Florida motorists can take to ensure they are protected in the event of a collision with an uninsured driver.

Motor vehicle accidents occur every day on the roads and highways throughout Florida, and all of the U.S. Such collisions often result in vehicle damages, as well as in serious injuries or death. Following auto accidents, many people rely on auto insurance to cover the costs of recovering, including their medical expenses and lost wages. Unfortunately, many motorists drive without insurance, or with minimal coverage that is insufficient to compensate their victims for the damages caused. According to a recent study by Wallethub.com, an estimated 23.8 percent of all motorists in Florida are uninsured.

As a result of uninsured and underinsured drivers, accident injury victims may be left without the financial compensation and aid that they need. There is no way for drivers to know for certain whether the other motorists on the road are insured. There are steps they can take, however, to ensure they are protected in collisions with uninsured drivers.

Practice defensive driving

One of the most important things that drivers can do to protect themselves is to practice safe, defensive driving. This includes avoiding distractions that may take their attention off of the primary task of operating their vehicles such as texting or applying make-up. Furthermore, it is important for motorists to watch out for other drivers. If another driver is driving erratically or unsafely, or you can tell their attention is not on the road, it is best to move into another lane, or slow down to let them pass.

Understand the state's insurance laws

Another step drivers can take is to know the laws in their state. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida motorists are required to have a minimum of $10,000 property damage liability and $10,000 personal injury protection. Unfortunately, because Florida drivers are required to carry PIP coverage, which pays for a portion of your own medical expenses and lost wages, drivers are not required to carry Bodily injury liability insurance. If motorists who are at fault for collisions do not have any bodily injury coverage, which is completely legal and unfortunately very common, they could be responsible for the damages they cause to you but have no resources from which to pay for those losses. A similar situation can occur where the amount of bodily injury liability coverage is inadequate to compensate you fully for the damages caused in an accident. This is referred to as underinsured.

Obtain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Many insurance companies offer additional coverage to protect drivers against uninsured or underinsured drivers. In addition to making sure that they have adequate auto insurance coverage, drivers may consider adding this additional coverage. This can help ensure that motorists are not only in compliance with their state's auto insurance requirements, but also that they are protected in the event that other drivers are not insured. In Florida, the law mandates that if you select to carry Bodily injury liability coverage, than you are provided an equal amount of uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, unless you elect to choose a lower amount of UM coverage, or to reject UM coverage completely. Generally, these rejections must be make knowingly, with full disclosure, and must be in writing.

Maintain thorough documentation

Following any motor vehicle accident, it is a good idea to document everything. This can be especially important, however, in cases when the other driver is uninsured in case it is necessary to take legal action. It is advisable to obtain the contact information for the other driver, as well as anyone who witnessed the accident. Often, it is also helpful to get a copy of the accident report from law enforcement. Additionally, it can be helpful to take pictures of the vehicles that were involved, the scene of the accident, and to document any injuries caused by the accident.

Obtain legal representation

The process of seeking damages can be difficult for accident injury victims in Florida, particularly when the at-fault motorist is uninsured. As such, it can be helpful for people who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents to seek counsel from a qualified legal professional. An attorney may advise them of their rights and options, and help them to determine the best course of action for their situations. We strongly encourage any accident victim to contact Wesley, McGrail & Wesley to discuss their legal rights and how best to proceed with their claim.

Keywords: accident, underinsured, uninsured