What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Do I Need It?
When you are in a car accident that is caused by someone else, you just assume that there is someone else to sue—after all, someone else caused the accident. But what if there is nobody to sue? What if you don’t know who caused an accident? This is where your uninsured motorist policy comes into play to help you.
When You May Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There are many situations when you can be in a car accident, but not know who caused the accident. Some common scenarios include:
-A hit-and-run, regardless of whether you are a pedestrian or in your car
-An accident caused by a driver that caused the accident, but was not actually involved in it—for example, a vehicle that tries to change lanes quickly and carelessly, causing the cars around it to swerve and crash. The car that tried to change lanes, not having crashed, drives away
-Debris or parts of a car (tire remnants) are left in the road. Nobody knows where the debris came from, but surely it had to be a vehicle somewhere that lost its load
In some cases, you may know exactly who hit you, but that person simply did not carry insurance. Sadly, Florida only requires that we carry insurance to protect ourselves—the law does not require that drivers carry liability insurance, which pays other people if the driver is negligent.
Your Uninsured Motorist to the Rescue
In these cases, where there is no driver, or no other liability policy to pay the damages to someone injured in a car accident, the victim can sue his or her own insurance policy under the Uninsured Motorist (UM) part of the policy. UM coverage “stands in the shoes” of the phantom (or uninsured) driver—even though UM is your insurance, UM acts like the other party’s insurance, and will challenge your case, put up defenses, and if needed, will offer a settlement or pay a jury verdict.
It may seem odd that your own insurance acts as the other side. As odd as it is, it nonetheless, gives drivers the opportunity to recover damages in cases where the other river cannot be located or where there is no insurance.
UM also stands for underinsured motorist coverage. In these cases, UM will pay the difference between the value of your damages, and the other side’s liability policy. Your UM in essence acts as an extra, emergency pot of money.
Let’s assume that you lose a leg in a car accident and you are not at fault. The driver who hit you only has $10,000 in liability coverage. Surely, such a catastrophic injury has a value way above $10,000. Whatever that value is, your UM will pay the difference between the $10,000, and the settlement or verdict value.
The Tampa personal injury attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian can help you if you are injured in a car accident of any kind. Call us today to discuss obtaining damages after any accident. Schedule a consultation today.