Our lawyers see many people who suffer debilitating injuries in collisions caused by uninsured or under-insured motorists. While the physical pain and emotional trauma of recovery take a toll on crash victims, the emotional hardships increase exponentially when the other driver is not adequately insured. Medical bills can mount, and the loss of household income take its toll. Drivers might be inclined to dismiss the possibility of being hit by an uninsured driver as unlikely. Florida consistently ranks in the top ten for the highest number of uninsured drivers in the U.S. Almost one in five Florida drivers carries no insurance while many others carry only minimal coverage according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), which makes uninsured motorist (UM) coverage an extremely important form of financial protection.
Our car accident attorneys take notice of significant uninsured motorist decisions because they can have a significant impact on many accident victims. The Seventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals recently affirmed a lower court opinion that denied UM coverage to a driver and two injured passengers. The plaintiffs in Trotter v. Harleysville Insurance Company suffered serious injuries when the car they were traveling in was hit in an intersection by a motorist who blew through a stop sign.
After a period of negotiation, the plaintiffs entered into a settlement with the insurance company of the negligent driver. The terms of the settlement provided that the $500,000 policy limits would be apportioned between the plaintiffs based on the relative severity of their injuries. While the carrier agreed to a settlement of the single accident policy limit of the at-fault motorist liability insurance coverage, the settlement was insufficient to fully compensate the plaintiffs. Although the claim was settled for policy limits, the plaintiffs contended that they were not fully compensated by the recovery.
UM Claim Denied Based on Coverage Limits
Subsequently, plaintiffs filed suit against the insurance carrier of the driver of the vehicle in which the injury victims were passengers. They claimed that they received insufficient compensation for their injuries. The claim requested additional compensation based on the UM coverage of the driver of the vehicle in which they were riding. The insurance carrier denied the claim based on the position that the UM motorist protection did not cover amounts over $500,000 per incident.
The court in weighing this contention found that the policy language limited damages such that amounts exceeding $500,000 were not covered under the policy. While the court considered the relevance of potentially ambiguous language in the policy, the court ruled that no ambiguity in the policy supported the position of the plaintiffs that any amount over the $500,000 policy limit was covered.
Importance of Reviewing UM/UIM and Other Policy Limits
This case provides some important takeaways for personal injury victims. First, all motorists should carefully review their policy limits including UM coverage. Because uninsured motorist and under-insured motorist coverage will provide the ability to cover certain critical losses if a driver hits you without adequate coverage, you should consider whether you have sufficient UM/UIM coverage. Second, this analysis should take into account the possibility you will be involved in a crash with multiple injury victims. If the at-fault driver in a crash has only minimum coverage, the available coverage will be woefully insufficient if there are multiple injury victims. Third, an experienced South Florida personal injury lawyer should investigate all types of available coverage to obtain the fullest recovery for injury victims. If the driver of a commercial truck causes your accident, commercial policies often will provide the greatest amount of coverage.
If you or a family member has been injured in a car accident, the South Florida car accident lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire. With over 130 collective years of experience representing crash accident victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence. Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights. Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald. Put our exceptional car crash lawyers to work on your case. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.