How to Sue an Uninsured Driver in an Orlando Car Accident
Dealing with uninsured vehicle drivers can be extremely frustrating, as not only is it Florida law to carry both property damage liability insurance (PDL) and personal injury protection (PIP), but also, uninsured drivers make it difficult to file a personal injury claim and collect the damages you rightly deserve in the event of an accident. However, while many drivers assume that they are out of luck when they get into an automobile accident with an uninsured driver, you can still recover damages in one of two ways:
- Through your own policy’s uninsured motorist coverage; or
- Sue the driver him- or herself.
At The Pendas Law Firm, we assist clients in determining the best route to recovering damages, and help them file their personal injury claim so that they may achieve the best possible outcome.
Suing an Uninsured Driver in Orlando, Florida
Unfortunately, suing an uninsured driver typically does not put a lot of money in your pocket, if it puts in any. This is usually because uninsured drivers do not have a lot of resources to spare, which is why they are driving uninsured in the first place. Most judges in Orlando will not award you a huge settlement against an uninsured driver if you win because the defendant does not have any money with which to pay you. If the judge does award a small amount of money, and the defendant still does not pay you, the judge will likely not force a payout.
Setting Up a Payment Plan
If the defendant does have some money coming in each month, the judge may require the defendant to pay via a payment plan. Unfortunately, a payment plan is not much better than not getting awarded any damages at all, as the weekly payments will be low—oftentimes in the $20 range. To be sure, $20 a week will not help you pay off your medical bills, nor will it help you sustain a comfortable lifestyle while you are out on medical leave from your job.
Furthermore, because your Orlando personal injury lawyer will require a percentage of your payout, you will not even be entitled to the full weekly amount. Your lawyer is entitled to one-third of your payout, which will mean that, if the judge orders the defendant to pay $20 a week, your lawyer will receive $6.67 of that $20, leaving you with $13.33. Not only will $13.33 do even less for you, but also, no lawyer will find that kind of payout worth his or her time.
Finally, if the defendant stops paying you, you will have to go back to court and accrue even more court and lawyer fees that will likely never get paid by the defendant.
Discovery of Hidden Assets
The only chance you have of winning damages from an uninsured driver – and the only chance you have of retaining a lawyer to work for you against an uninsured driver – is if there is evidence of hidden assets or money. In order to determine if this is the case, a lawyer will want to run a credit or asset check against the driver of the uninsured vehicle. If there is the discovery of hidden assets or money, and if an Orlando personal injury lawyer agrees to take on the case, the lawyer will strive to retain the assets through a lien or by freezing accounts. This ensures that a defendant cannot try to hide the assets or move them around during the course of litigation in an attempt to get out of paying.
File a Personal Injury Claim Through Your Own Insurance Company
If you sustained serious injuries in a car accident with an uninsured driver, your best bet would be to file an insurance claim with your own insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage. While many individuals do not find this as gratifying as suing the at-fault driver, it is much more effective.
If you suspect that the driver that you hit you is uninsured, notify your insurance company right away of your intent to file a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage. Working with an uninsured motorist claim is a bit different than working with a typical insurance claim, as you have limited time to file the claim. If the other driver claims to not have insurance, or if they refuse to give you any insurance information, notify your insurance company right away. To find out how long you have to file an uninsured motorist claim, speak with your insurance company regarding your coverage.
A personal injury claim with your own insurance company progresses in much the same way as a regular accident claim, except that if you cannot come to an agreement with your own insurance company regarding a settlement, the case will go to arbitration instead of to trial. The losing party of arbitration does not have many, if any, rights to an appeal, and the losing side is stuck with the decision that the courts hand down.
Furthermore, the amount of benefits you receive from your insurance company cannot exceed the amount of benefits that your policy covers. For instance, if your policy only covers up to $100,000 worth of damage, you may only be awarded up to $100,000, even if your medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle damages exceed that amount.
Consult an Orlando Car Accident Lawyer
At The Pendas Law Firm, our Orlando lawyers have helped countless clients recover damages from uninsured drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident involving an uninsured driver, contact our Orlando personal injury law firm today at 1-888-LPENDAS or online. We also serve clients in the Miami, Tampa, Fort Myer, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale & Jacksonville areas.