You can seek financial compensation after getting hit by an uninsured drunk driver. One of your first options is to seek benefits from your insurance policy. You can also sue the driver, who must pay you from their assets.
A Fort Lauderdale drunk driving lawyer from our law firm can also determine if someone else is liable, allowing you to recover additional damages if the drunk driver can’t cover all your expenses.
Insurance Options After an Uninsured Drunk Driving Accident
In any traffic accident involving a driver without sufficient insurance coverage, we will first look at your insurance policy to see what benefits are available to you right away. Since Florida has no-fault laws, you generally file with your insurance provider after an accident, regardless of who was responsible.
The type of benefits you can receive through a claim with your insurer depends on your coverage. We can help you make sense of policy terms.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
This is what is often called no-fault coverage. As the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) explains, every driver must carry at least $10,000 in PIP. You must seek medical care for your accident injuries within 14 days to get PIP coverage.
However, PIP has its limits. For instance, it only covers up to 80 percent of your medical bills up to your policy limits. If you carry only the $10,000 minimum, that’s the most you can recover. A three-day hospital stay can cost three times that amount, according to Healthcare.gov. You’ll also only receive a percentage of your lost income.
Perhaps the most notable limitation of PIP is that it doesn’t provide pain and suffering damages. That means no recognition for issues like emotional distress, reduced quality of life, or disfigurement.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage
While PIP is required in Florida, uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) is not. Nonetheless, carrying it is recommended for situations like this when you’re hit by someone with no or insufficient coverage. Our uninsured motorist accident lawyers can determine if you carry UM/UIM and work on filing a claim for you.
Unlike PIP, this coverage allows you to recover damages for medical care, lost income, and pain and suffering up to your policy limits. This can mean you could seek more compensation following an uninsured drunk driving accident with this route compared to PIP.
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Filing a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Drunk Driver in Florida
Even in a state with no-fault insurance, you can file a lawsuit under certain circumstances. A driver not having any insurance coverage is one of them. If your expenses exceed what coverage you have through your policy, you can potentially file a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver to recover damages directly from them.
What About Florida’s Serious Injury Threshold?
No-fault laws require that all drivers essentially give up the option of suing the other party in exchange for benefits, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. You might receive lower damages, but you won’t have to prove someone else was responsible.
An exception to this is if you suffered serious injuries. According to Florida Statutes § 627.737, serious injuries are:
- Significant or permanent loss of bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Significant or permanent scarring or disfigurement
If your drunk driving accident injuries fit this description, you meet the serious injury threshold and can file a lawsuit to recover all your accident-related losses, including pain and suffering. A car accident lawyer can verify that your injuries qualify and start putting together proof of the other driver’s negligence.
What if the Driver Can’t Afford Your Expenses?
Unfortunately, some drivers avoid getting insurance because they feel they can’t afford it. That could mean they don’t have the funds and assets to pay for your bills and other damages. If that’s the case, we can investigate to look for alternatives to pursuing the driver.
Other Compensation Options After a Drunk Driving Accident
Our injury attorneys can broaden our approach to your case to consider other parties if the uninsured driver in your case can’t cover all your bills. We could file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the following.
Holding a Bar or Restaurant Liable
Under certain circumstances, Florida’s dram shop law, outlined in Florida Statutes § 768.125, allows you to seek damages from a bar or restaurant for serving the drunk driver who hit you. They must have served someone who either was under the legal drinking age or habitually addicted to alcohol.
We can look into whether the driver who hit you was under the lawful drinking age, which is 21. If so, we can trace their movements the evening of the crash to determine where they were served and hold the server liable. Similarly, if the driver was an adult, we can investigate whether the driver was known to have a problem with alcohol but was served anyway.
Suing an Insurer for Acting in Bad Faith
Our personal injury attorneys can hold insurers accountable for honoring policy terms. If your claim with your own insurance company wasn’t honored, we can hold the company liable for acting in bad faith.
Examples of bad faith include:
- Not investigating an accident
- Denying a claim with no grounds
- Stalling or dragging out a claim
- Deliberately undervaluing your losses
- Bullying or intimidating behavior
Exploring Vicarious Liability
The drunk driver who hit you may have done so while working. Even if they didn’t carry private insurance, their employer might have coverage that can help you. Businesses are sometimes liable for what their employees do, something called vicarious liability. Examples include truck accidents, taxicab collisions, and rideshare crashes.
Holding Other Parties Liable
Other alternatives we can consider:
- Pursuing a product manufacturer for defective products that caused, contributed to, or worsened your injuries.
- Filing an insurance claim against or suing another driver if you were in a multi-car collision.
- Seeking compensation from a government entity if your accident was influenced by road conditions, poor signage, or other examples of premises negligence.
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Our Drunk Driving Lawyer Can Navigate Your Compensation Options After a DUI Accident
The drunk driving accident lawyers from Chalik & Chalik Injury Lawyers can explore all these options when we take on your case. Even if the driver in your accident was uninsured, you can seek compensation through other avenues. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.
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