Struck By An Uninsured Motorist, What Can You Do About It?

BY GEORGE M. STARK, P.A.

Automobile accidents keep doctors, automobile repair shops and lawyers busy. Obtaining compensation for your damages may depend on whether or not the responsible owner/operator has adequate automobile insurance.

In past issues, we have commented on the importance of purchasing not only the automobile insurance that is required by Florida law, but also bodily injury, uninsured motorist and collision coverage otherwise referred to as “full coverage.” The focus of this article will be the limited options available if you have not purchased “full coverage,” and are involved in an auto accident with an owner/ operator of a vehicle that has no insurance or inadequate insurance coverage.

If you have “full coverage,” you will be thankful for it when your insurance company assumes responsibility for payment of your damages caused by the carelessness of an uninsured or inadequately insured driver. But what if you have elected to not purchase full coverage and sustained damage to your car or personal injuries due to the carelessness of an uninsured or inadequately insured owner/ operator, are you simply out of luck? No, we recommend that the procedure established by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) as codified by Florida Statute Section 324.051 be utilized. The Florida DHSMV has created the Bureau of Motorist Compliance which is charged with the responsibility of insuring that people are responsible for their actions involving motor vehicles.

Upon receiving a Florida crash report indicating that a vehicle’s owner/operator who is charged with a moving violation was uninsured or that there were physical injuries and that the violator had only the minimum insurance coverage required by Florida Law (PIP and PD), the Florida Bureau of Motorist Compliance will issue a letter requiring compliance with certain conditions under penalty of suspension of the violators license and/or vehicle registration for a period of three years. One of the conditions will be the violators obtaining a full release from liability from you for the damages that you sustained.

Having been so notified, the violator must contact you, make suitable payment arrangements and obtain a release of liability to prevent the suspension of his/her license or registration or to reinstate it if it has been suspended. Again, if you have “full coverage,” your insurance company will cover your damages. If not, take some comfort in knowing that if you are involved in an accident with an owner/operator of a vehicle that either has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your injuries, you are not without recourse.

Additional information may be obtained through our offices, or Florida Bureau of Motorist Compliance Customer Service Center.

Published on: Jun 2, 2016