If you’re involved in a crash wherein there are multiple victims and/ or multiple drivers, it’s likely you’ll be dealing with more than one auto insurance company. One insurer is often a handful enough. Facing many is more than just a headache, and even the smallest mistake could have a big impact in how much money you ultimately receive.
That was the situation in a recent case out of Montana, wherein a plaintiff was dealing with multiple insurers to cover some $75,000 in damages. Plaintiff was a passenger in a crash resulting in five injury claims. Insurers involved included those covering the driver of the other vehicle, the driver of the vehicle she was in and her own uninsured/ underinsured motorist carrier.
This is the type of car accident case in which involvement of a South Florida injury lawyer is imperative.
Florida No Fault Coverage – and More
Florida is a no-fault state, and under the provisions of F.S. 627.736, Floridians are required to purchase personal injury protection coverage that pays up to $10,000 in medical expenses (80 percent) and lost wages (60 percent). Only $2,500 of your medical bill will be paid if your injuries aren’t considered emergent. And it’s only if you cross the “serious injury threshold” you can step outside of no-fault and sue the at-fault driver. (Motorcyclists aren’t required to purchase PIP.) From there, each driver is required to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage and $10,000 per person/ $20,000 per crash for bodily injury liability, which covers anyone who is hurt by your negligence. Most policies also come with uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage (which can be declined, but only in writing) but it has to be equal to the limits of your bodily injury liability coverage.
Plaintiff Demands Total Damages be Covered in Overlapping Policies
In the case recently before the Montana Supreme Court, it’s worth noting that Montana is a fault state, meaning there is no PIP coverage requirement. According to court records, plaintiff’s damages totaled more than $75,000. The at-fault drivers’s auto insurer gave her $27,000 (with the rest of that policy limit paid out to others injured in the crash). The vehicle in which she was a passenger had a UM/UIM coverage amount of $25,000. She also had her own auto insurance, with up to $100,000 for medical payments and $50,000 per person for UM/UIM coverage. In total, she received all but $2,500 less than her total damages.
A dispute over this sum led plaintiff to file a lawsuit against her own insurer. The lower court decided in the insurer’s favor, finding the insurer was entitled to an offset of its UIM coverage dollar-for-dollar with the entire UIM policy provided by the auto insurer that covered the driver of the car in which she was a passenger. The state supreme court disagreed, though did find plaintiff’s insurer was entitled to an offset of its UIM obligation for medical payments. The court also awarded plaintiff attorney fees.
The decision in this case came down to a careful reading of plaintiff’s auto insurance policy. The fact that it was so hotly contested – even before the state’s highest court – underscores how important it is not to try to handle such claims with an insurer on your own. Hire a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Cramer v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, Aug. 14, 2018, Montana Supreme Court
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