The only thing worse than being involved in an automobile accident in Jacksonville, getting hurt, and incurring medical bills is to learn the driver who hit you does not have any insurance. What are your options?
Review our page covering insurance coverage options. Briefly, Florida requires two basic insurance coverages in order to drive on our roadways; personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and property damage coverage (PD). PIP covers your own medical bills if you are involved in an accident regardless of fault. PD covers the other car’s damage if you are found at fault. When people say the at-fault driver “does not have insurance,” that might mean the other driver does not have the kind of optional coverage to pay for your personal injuries. That coverage is called bodily injury coverage (BI). The other driver still may have insurance to cover the damage to your car under their PD coverage. So, it is important to identify whether the other driver has absolutely no insurance at all, or if they do not carry the optional coverage to pay for your injury claim.
If not, the owner of the car may have insurance coverage. Automobiles are considered Dangerous Instrumentalities in Florida which means if you lend your vehicle to someone and they injure someone, you, as the owner of the vehicle, could be held responsible.
In some situations, you can have more than one owner of the vehicle. This can happen if a parent helps co-sign a loan for a car for their child. If the child fails to obtain insurance or allows their insurance to lapse, the car may still be covered by the co-owner’s auto policy.
If so, the driver’s employer may be responsible for your injuries. Although this sounds like a simple question, Florida law is somewhat complicated regarding the answer. The answer is often highly dependent on the facts of the case. Our workers’ compensation system pays for medical expenses and lost wages if a worker was injured during the course and scope of their employment. In their effort to find coverage for an injured worker, Courts have sometimes used the facts of a particular case to find the injury that occurred on the job. While this is good for the injured worker, these cases are also helpful to injured victims struck by workers to prove that worker was in the course and scope of their employment.
This optional coverage may be the most important coverage you can select when purchasing insurance. As our coverage page explains, Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) pays you if you are injured by another driver who does not have enough or any insurance. There are different kinds of UM, stacked and non-stacked. Non-stacked is cheaper but comes with limitations.
If you own a vehicle and purchased optional bodily injury coverage (BI), your insurance company had to offer you UM. They do this with a UM Selection/Rejection form. On this form, you have the options of selecting stacked or non-stacked UM, selecting UM limits lower than your BI limits, or rejecting UM coverage altogether. This form must be maintained by the insurance company.
If you do not recall purchasing UM or if you are not sure, it is worth asking your insurance company for a copy of the UM Selection/Rejection form. At Rosenberg & Calvin, P.A., we have done this numerous times for clients who have purchased the optional BI coverage but were not sure about whether they bought UM. If the insurance company is unable to provide a copy of the appropriate UM Selection/Rejection form, they are obligated to provide their insured with stacking UM coverage with limits equal to the insured’s BI limits.
You may be eligible for UM coverage as a resident relative. If you are considered a resident relative and one of your relatives has UM coverage, you may be able to make a claim against their policy. Insurance policies differ slightly on their definition of a “relative” but it is usually someone who is related by blood, marriage, or adoption. You may be entitled to UM coverage as a resident relative even if you live far from home. A common example of this is a student away at college. The underlying principle is whether the relative has an intent to return home. While the student may be living on campus, his home remains his “residence.”
UM has been found to extend to a young adult experimenting with living in an apartment. There have been other cases where a boyfriend spends most of his days and evenings at his girlfriend’s house but he maintains a room at his parent’s home, has his parent’s address on his driver’s license, and he continues to receive mail at his parent’s address. In that situation, his parent’s UM coverage extended to their son.
If you do not own a car or if you know you did not purchase UM coverage and your insurance company provided you with the appropriate UM Selection/Rejection form, you still may have access to UM coverage if you were a passenger in a car at the time. If the host driver has UM coverage, you will be covered as a Class 2 insured. Class 1 insureds are usually considered the named insured and that person’s family members. Unlike Class 1 insureds, Class 2 insureds might not be resident relatives but they have permission to use or occupy the insured vehicle.
If you have been injured in an Automobile Accident in Jacksonville, contact a lawyer at Rosenberg & Calvin, P.A., to review the facts of your case and identify all the potential sources of insurance available.