UM / UIM Accident Claims
Uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage essentially exists to protect you in the event of a Florida car accident that involves an at-fault driver who:
- Does not have auto insurance coverage (UM);
- Fled the scene in a hit-and-run and was never identified (UM);
- Lacks adequate coverage to pay your total damages (UIM).
It's critical coverage in Florida, which the Insurance Information Institute reports ranks No. 1 for the most uninsured motorists - nearly 27 percent. The national average was most recently tallied at 13 percent.
Fort Myers car accident attorneys know Florida does not mandate UM/UIM coverage for drivers. However, F.S. 627.727 stipulates no auto insurance policy can be lawfully issued with bodily injury liability coverage absent equal value UM coverage. Vehicle owners can reject both, as Florida doesn't technically require bodily injury coverage either (a financial responsibility law compels most people to buy it anyway).
The only auto insurance Florida requires is personal injury protection (PIP), which extends up to $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits - regardless of fault - and $10,000 in property damage liability. This type of bare bones coverage may be cheaper short-term, but it can cost you dearly long-term. Without UM/UIM coverage, you are basically on your own after a serious crash caused by a driver who didn't bother to buy insurance, allowed their insurance to lapse, took off or only purchased the statutory minimum.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports motor vehicle crashes in Florida cost $3.02 billion in a single year. That includes medical and work cost losses. Individuals and families bear that burden disproportionately.I Pay for UM/UIM - Why Do I Need an Attorney?
That's a good question. You're a paying customer and the crash wasn't even your fault, why wouldn't your insurer step in and be the "good neighbor" who promised to keep you "in good hands"?
Even though you're a loyal customer, UM/UIM carriers are like any other insurer in that they are seeking to reduce liability. Even in cases where the fault of the other driver is clearly established and your injuries are extensive, claims aren't usually paid upon simple request. In fact, adjusters will be looking from the very first report/ interaction to identify ways to reduce what they pay - or avoid paying altogether.
Having a Fort Myers injury lawyer advocating for you from the outset puts the insurer on notice that you don't intend to go away quietly without receiving fair resoultion. Sometimes, that alone is enough to spur a fair offer from the outset, and you never have to file a lawsuit. Other times, it's only the beginning. You need an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to properly value your claim, gather evidence adequately supporting that claim, and timely and properly file your claim. Your attorney must also understand the impact this could have on other pending claims, such as workers' compensation and health insurance.
Volumes of literature exist on UM/UIM claims. The state statute itself is extensive. Taking this all on alone - while recovering from a serious crash - is not something most people can do successfully.
It is true that injury attorneys are paid a contingency fee upon successful settlement or a favorable verdict - but only when it's successful. That's why we take care to carefully research your claim right from the start, to be certain you have a winning case.Stacking UM/UIM Coverage
Another reason you may want to consider hiring a civil attorney is that you may be entitled to "stacked" UM/UIM coverage. Usually, you pay extra for this benefit, but to waive it, you must sign a state-approved form.
Stacked insurance allows you to increase your UM/UIM benefits depending on how many total cars you insure. For example, if you purchase UM coverage for three vehicles at a limit of $25,000 each and are struck by a driver without any insurance, you can stack those coverage for a total UM limit of $75,000.
You triple your cap. However, there may be exceptions in the fine print, and it's beneficial to have someone who knows and understands auto insurance policies. Your injury attorney in Fort Myers can help you sift through the exact type and amount of coverage you have and your best legal strategy to maximize the benefits to which you're entitled.
Call or email the Garvin Law Firm today for a free consultation and we will evaluate your claim and determine the appropriate course of action. We have offices in Fort Myers, Naples, and Key West. We have been handling auto accident cases in Fort Myers, Florida for over 30 years.