Having represented people injured in automobile accidents for over 40 years in Pinellas County and throughout the State of Florida, too often I am surprised to learn at the first meeting with new clients how little they understand about their own automobile insurance coverage. On those occasions when I have to tell them that the driver at fault does not carry liability insurance from which they can recover their full losses, I get a confused look and this question: “but aren’t they required to carry liability insurance?” The answer is no. Florida law only requires the owner of a vehicle to carry $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance which pays a percentage of your medical bills and income loss and a minimum of $10,000 of Property Damage liability insurance.
That is why purchasing Uninsured Motorists (UM) insurance coverage is so important. UM pays if you, your passengers or family members are in an accident and injured because of the negligence of another driver who does not have liability insurance, or has insufficient liability insurance to cover the total losses you have suffered. This applies whether you are in your car, in someone else’s car or struck by a car as a pedestrian. UM insurance also applies in hit-and-run situations. UM insurance pays for medical expenses, lost wages (beyond your PIP coverage), bodily injury, sickness, disease or death resulting from a motor vehicle accident that you and your passengers suffer.
All too often I find that clients injured in a car, truck or other type of vehicle wreck do not know what uninsured motorist coverage is and they do not have UM coverage even though they were required to sign a waiver of UM coverage at the time they purchased their insurance policy. It seems that at times there are communication breakdowns between the insurance agent and their customer as to exactly what the customer needs and what they are actually buying. There are several other insurance options offered by automobile insurance agents whether you live in St. Petersburg, the greater Tampa Bay area or anywhere in Florida for that matter. That is why it is so important that you take the time to go through the options with your agent; make sure you understand what each option can do for you and why you may or may not need certain options.
In other words – insurance-wise – take care of you and your family before you need an attorney so that if that unfortunate crash happens your lawyer has the recovery tools to help you.