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What is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance in Tampa?
What is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance in Tampa?

What is Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance in Tampa?

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is insurance that serves to protect you if you get into an accident with a driver that either has no insurance or inadequate insurance. You can benefit from having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage because it could cover the following damages:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage and repair costs
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Emotional anguish
  • Mental distress
  • Other types of pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Death

Having Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage is pretty much like an additional preventative measure to protect yourself if you suffer damages in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or not enough insurance to fully compensate you. It’s offered by most insurance companies in Tampa, so it’s a good idea to have it if you can afford it, as it can serve as a security blanket if you get into an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.

Your odds of getting into an accident are pretty high if you live in Tampa because nearly 25% of drivers are operating vehicles without insurance. Since the average number of accidents for all drivers is about 3-4 accidents in a lifetime, it’s very likely that at least one of those will be an encounter with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Read on to learn more about underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance and how it works in Tampa.

Is Florida a “No-Fault” Auto Insurance State?

Florida follows “no-fault” insurance laws, which means that all drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance to cover their own damages, regardless of who is at fault. With Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, every driver has a legally mandated minimum of $10,000 to cover bodily injury and other damages from the accident.

PIP will cover the policyholder, passengers, and pedestrians involved in the accident. In addition to personal injury protection, Tampa law requires all drivers to have $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL).

What happens when you find yourself involved in an accident where the damages exceed your policy limits? You may need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Uninsured vs. Underinsured Insurance in Tampa , What’s the Difference?

Uninsured motorist insurance (UM insurance) is a protective measure you can purchase with your policy to cover yourself and passengers in the event of an accident with another driver that causes an accident and lacks liability insurance.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM insurance) comes into play when the at-fault driver has insurance, but it’s not enough to pay for all of your damages. In most cases, Uninsured motorist insurance will also cover personal injury claims involving underinsured motorists. However, make sure to confirm the details of your specific policy to be sure.

Is It Worth It to Purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida?

While it’s not required to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, insurance companies are required to offer it. However, rather than simply turning it down, you have to opt out of UM insurance in writing. So, you have to actively turn it down. Remember that by choosing not to get UM or UIM coverage, you risk facing out of pocket repercussions if it happens that you ever get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If you were already involved in an accident with a negligent driver who doesn’t have insurance or have enough to cover your losses, call a Tampa personal injury lawyer today to see how they can help you recover financially.

Who Is Covered Under Tampa Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage offers broad protections and generally provides coverage for the:

  • Driver or policyholder
  • The spouse of the policyholder
  • And any relatives of the policyholder (that reside in the same household)
  • Passengers that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident

Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is not just limited to drivers. You also use it for pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Additionally, it could be applicable in some cases of hit-and-run accidents.

My Family Member Died in an Accident Caused by an Uninsured Motorist. What Should I Do Now?

If your loved ones of family member was killed in a car crash due to a negligent driver, you may be eligible to file a Tampa wrongful death claim, which can help you recover:

  • Medical bills they incurred before their death
  • Funeral expenses and burial costs
  • Lost wages due to their death
  • Grief you experienced while losing your loved one
  • Loss of companionship and consortium

If the negligent driver who caused your loved one’s death was an uninsured driver or underinsured driver, it’s imperative to get professional legal advice. Our tampa personal injury lawyers can help you get the maximum possible compensation to help you recover from this tragic loss.

What Legal Recourse Do I Have if an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Hit Me?

While you may be entitled to financial recourse after getting hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, that doesn’t meet it’s automated or guaranteed. As the injury victim, you carry the burden of proof – meaning you need to provide solid evidence to support your claim and the nature and extent of your injuries and all other damages you suffered from the accident.

This is why it’s critical for your case outcome to have an experienced attorney who knows how to strategically handle a car accident claim involving a driver with no or inadequate insurance. Their knowledge, expertise, and experience will give you a fair chance at winning a full and fair compensation for what you’ve lost and endured.

Steps to Take After Getting Into an Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

If you’ve gotten into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, follow these steps as a precautionary measure for your health and to ensure you protect your rights.

Get Medical Care ASAP

There are several reasons to get medical care immediately after the accident. Do not delay this, as it can later jeopardize your claim. Here’s why.

Creating a temporal connection (i.e., you went to a doctor right after the accident) shows that your injuries were serious and that you took it seriously enough to get medical care right away. Another reason is that sometimes injury symptoms can get masked by the initial shock and adrenaline of the traumatic crash.

As a result, many injury victims don’t even realize how bad their injuries are until days or even weeks later. To avoid making it look like you didn’t take your injuries seriously or let your injuries worsen by waiting too long, get checked out right away.

If you inadvertently let your injuries worsen by failing to get prompt medical care, you could end up missing more work.

Finally, you’ll want to have clear documentation for your personal injury claim, showing that you got medical care right after the accident. This will serve as valuable and convincing evidence to support your claim. Be sure to follow your doctor’s orders for any medications, treatments, physical therapies and rehabilitation orders, and follow-ups.

Call the Tampa Police

By law in Tampa, you must call the local authorities to report an accident if there were any:

  • Bodily injuries
  • Property damage greater than $500
  • Or any fatalities

Calling the police right away will also ensure that you have an official incident report on the record, which you will need for your personal injury claim. You can either call the Florida Highway Patrol or the Tampa Police Department, or the County Sheriff’s Departments depending on where the accident occurred.

Exchange Contact Information With All Parties Involved

Get contact information from all parties who were involved in the accident, including:

  • Names
  • Phone numbers
  • Address
  • Insurance details if they have coverage (company, policy number)

Start Collecting Evidence at the Scene

Use your phone to take pictures and videos of the accident scene, the surrounding area, property damage, and any injuries you have. You can also get pictures of the vehicles and license plates of the other drivers (this is especially helpful to have if the driver is uninsured). If there are any hazards in the road or other dangerous conditions that may have been a contributing factor in the accident, get pictures of that too.

Talk to Any Nearby Witnesses and Get Their Contact Information

If there are any witnesses who saw the accident, get their contact information. Another important note: write down your memory of the accident with as much detail as you can, while it’s fresh in your head. Most phones have a notepad or similar app where you can jot down important notes. Small details that may not seem that significant can later have a great impact on your case, and memories can fade quickly with time. So record your recollection as soon as you can.

Call Your Insurance Company to Tell Them About the Accident

If you have insurance, you must report the accident to your insurance provider. While you don’t need to contact them on the accident scene, you should do so at your earliest convenience.

TIf the uninsured or underinsured (at-fault) driver can’t afford to compensate you fully for all the damages, you as the injury victim have a legal responsibility to send a written notice of settlement to the insurance company.

Failure to contact them and send this written notice within the 30 day deadline usually results in a claim denial or a cancellation of your policy.

After you notify your insurer, they will start their own investigation into the accident and may offer you a settlement. However, we advise you not to accept any settlement offers without consulting with a knowledgeable Tampa personal injury lawyer.

Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer Today

A knowledgeable and experienced Tampa car accident lawyer can review your case details to help do some critical moves that will increase your chances of a successful case outcome, including:

  • Identifying and proving negligence of the uninsured or underinsured drivers
  • Establishing liability
  • Determining an accurate and fair value of your claim to ensure you get adequate compensation to move forward
  • Dealing with insurance companies, which will allow you to focus on healing

There is a time limit in Tampa to file a personal injury claim, so don’t delay contacting an attorney. A strong case takes time to build, so the sooner you contact a lawyer, the better.

Call us today for a free initial consultation.

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