State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Thorne, 110 So. 3d 66, 68-69 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013)
This rear-end auto accident case involved a person who received injuries from two separate collisions with drivers who had low limit auto insurance policies.
The plaintiff in this lawsuit suffered injuries in two different auto accidents, which took place almost two years apart from one another. The first accident occurred in 2004 where the plaintiff was a passenger in another person’s vehicle that was rear-ended. The second accident took place in 2006, and also involved a rear-end collision. This accident, however, happened when the plaintiff was operating her own vehicle while stopped at a red light.
Unfortunately, the plaintiff was forced to undergo multiple surgeries to repair damage to her shoulder, knee and neck. She filed a lawsuit against the drivers of the 2004 and 2006 rear-end collisions, as well as her insurance carrier, State Farm, for damages. The multiple defendants being named in the lawsuit is a strategy that attorneys use to ensure that any and all liable parties are brought to court to answer to the personal injury claim. Because the plaintiff in this lawsuit had significant medical expenses, it was important to make sure that anyone who was found responsible for causing her injuries was alleged in the civil complaint.
State Farm was named in the lawsuit because after the initial investigation established that both drivers had minimal coverage on their policies, it was determined that the plaintiff’s carrier would have to cover the outstanding costs up to her policy limits. Florida drivers can purchase coverage on their auto insurance policies to protect them against either uninsured drivers, or underinsured drivers. Uninsured and/or Underinsured Motorists in Florida create horrible situations when they cause injuries to another driver in an auto accident.
Florida being a “No-Fault” state has laws in place which require all drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage. The least amount of coverage that any one person can have by law is ten thousand dollars in personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. The PIP coverage is essentially what “No-Fault” means. In Florida, it does not matter who is at fault for an auto accident. The first ten thousand dollars of medical expenses are to be covered by your own auto policy carrier.
The issue that presents itself, as it did in this case, is that if you are injured because of another person’s negligence behind the wheel, and your injuries create medical bills exceeding your PIP coverage, the difference in damages is owed to you by the at-fault party. But what if the at-fault party does not have medical coverage, or insufficient medical coverage, for other drivers under their policy?
As the plaintiff did in this case, people can purchase UM coverage under their own policy to ensure that they are covered if they are ever injured by a driver who lacks sufficient medical coverage, or coverage altogether. It then becomes your own insurance company’s responsibility, under your agreement with them, to pay any outstanding medical bills that exceed the available coverage between your PIP coverage and any coverage that an at-fault driver may have. The plaintiff in the above case needed to have surgery to repair her injuries, and the costs associated with these procedures can be substantial. It is important for every Florida driver to consider UM coverage if it is financially feasible for this very reason.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident with another driver whose insurance coverage is leaving you with questions, you need to contact an attorney and explain what happened. Call our Fort Lauderdale law firm for your free consultation.