Articles Posted in Automobile Insurance

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car accidentThe lawmakers in each state are able to determine what amount of insurance is required to legally operate a vehicle on public roads. Most states require motorists to obtain a certain amount of bodily injury liability coverage to ensure that an accident victim is able to recover – at least in part – for the injuries they sustained. However, Florida lawmakers left the bulk of the decision to obtain car insurance in the hands of the individual motorists.

Unlike many other states, Florida law only requires motorists to obtain $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability. Personal injury protection, also called “no fault insurance” covers the motorist (and other qualifying individuals) up to the policy maximum, without a showing of fault.

While this sounds good in theory, by not requiring motorists obtain additional bodily injury liability coverage, few motorists have coverage beyond the bare minimum PIP. This means that many Florida motorists do not have insurance to cover the medical expenses of those who are injured in an accident that they caused. Given the state’s lax insurance requirements, it is no surprise that Florida ranks among the worst states for uninsured and underinsured drivers.

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Earlier this month, a court issued a written opinion in a Florida golf cart accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s insurance provider was required to cover the accident under the underinsured motorist (UM) provision of the plaintiff’s policy. Ultimately, the court held that the exclusion for accidents involving “non-owned golf carts” was invalid.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was walking on a pathway in Sun City Center when she was struck by a golf cart. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries. The operator of the golf cart did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for her injuries, so she filed a claim with her own insurance company, under the underinsured motorist provision.

The plaintiff’s insurance policy contained separate language for accidents involving liability insurance and accidents involving UM insurance. Specifically, the plaintiff’s liability policy covered accidents involving “non-owned golf carts,” but accidents involving “non-owned golf carts” were specifically excluded from the UM protection policy. Thus, the insurance company denied the plaintiff coverage.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident lawsuit that illustrates the difficulties some motorists encounter when filing insurance claims after an accident. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a plaintiff’s failure to fulfill a “condition precedent” prior to filing a claim with his own insurance company can be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim. The court concluded that, generally, such a failure will prevent the plaintiff from recovering damages; however, when the insurance company fails to raise the issue in a timely manner, the objection will be considered waived.

Car AccidentThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sustained injuries in a Florida car accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was being operated by her father. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver was at fault, but that driver did not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries she sustained.

At the time of the collision, the plaintiff was covered under two insurance policies:  her mother’s policy with Allstate and her father’s policy with Geico. Both policies had underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance. The Geico policy’s limit was $20,000, and the Allstate policy’s limit was $25,000. The Allstate policy contained an “other insurance” clause, stating that the insured must exhaust all other insurance policies available before a claim under the Allstate policy.

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Determining who is at fault in a Florida car accident is not always as straightforward as it may seem. While some accidents involve a clear error on the part of one driver, other accidents present a much more difficult situation. For example, chain-reaction accidents can involve multiple parties, each of whom may be partly at fault for the collision. Determining who is at fault in these accidents and dividing up the fault according to each driver’s actions is a difficult task that is most often left to the courts.

Legal News GavelFlorida uses the comparative negligence rule when determining which accident victims are permitted to recover compensation for their injuries and how much they should recover. Under the comparative negligence doctrine, each party who is injured in an accident is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party or parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. If the jury determines that a plaintiff is partially at fault for their own injuries, that plaintiff’s total award amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault.

Florida’s comparative negligence method is considered to be much more plaintiff-friendly than the alternative doctrine applied in other states, called contributory negligence. Under a contributory negligence analysis, any person who is determined to be even the slightest bit at fault for an accident cannot recover for their injuries.

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In a case decided earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Florida upheld a jury’s $1 million verdict against an insurance company after it was determined that the insurance company acted in bad faith in not paying out on the plaintiff’s meritorious claim.

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Fridman v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois:  The Facts of the Case

The case arose after a 2007 accident involving the plaintiff and an uninsured motorist. In the wake of the accident, the plaintiff discovered that the other driver did not have insurance and sought to collect reimbursement for medical expenses and property damage from his own insurance company, Safeco. However, Safeco initially denied the claim and then failed to respond to any of the plaintiff’s attempts to follow up with the claim.

Eventually, the plaintiff filed a case against Safeco, citing the company’s bad faith in failing to settle the claim. Once that claim was filed, Safeco issued the plaintiff a payment of $50,000, which was the upper policy limit of the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist coverage. The plaintiff refused the settlement and opted to let the jury decide what the claim was worth. After a jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded an amount of $1 million.

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To save money on auto insurance cost may seem impossible. Actually, there are several ways in which you can reduce your auto insurance payment, without sacrificing your coverage.

First, multiple car discounts are offered when a family insures all their vehicles with the same company. Also, if the family decides to purchase additional insurances, such as homeowner’s or life insurance, premiums may be reduced as well.

Consider buying the right amount of insurance. Auto insurance is designed to protect you in cases of major losses, a big accident or the theft of your car, for example. Having a higher deductible, or paying for minor losses yourself, could save you a lot of money in the long-run.

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