Florida is home to the highest number of uninsured motorists in the nation. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), one out of every four drivers in Florida does not carry auto insurance. In other words, it means that if you get into a car accident in the Sunshine State, there is a 25% chance that the other motorist is uninsured.
But what if your crash is caused by an uninsured driver who is willing to purchase auto insurance after the accident to pay for your damages and losses? Can the at-fault driver who was driving uninsured when the collision occurred purchase car insurance to “backdate” coverage?
The short answer is “No”, which means you’ll have to find other avenues to obtain compensation for your injuries. In this case, if you were involved in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver, do not hesitate to speak with our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys to determine who can pay for your medical bills and other damages after the crash.
Penalties for driving without car insurance in West Palm Beach
Unlike some other states, which require motorists to pay hefty fines and face a prison sentence for driving without auto insurance, Florida drivers who fail to present valid proof of insurance are subject to the following penalties:
- A suspension of the driver’s license, registration, and vehicle tags until the driver purchases auto insurance or for up to three years, whichever occurs first; and
- A $150 reinstatement fee to get the driver’s license and registration back after the first offense ($250 for a second offense within three years, or $500 for a third lapse in car insurance policy within three years).
During the suspension of the driver’s license, the motorist is not eligible to obtain a temporary or restricted license. In addition to the above-mentioned penalties, the at-fault motorist who was driving without insurance can be sued in a civil court by the injured victim to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Purchasing auto insurance after an accident to pay for damages
If you were involved in a car crash caused by an uninsured motorist in West Palm Beach or anywhere else in Florida, you might wonder, “Can the at-fault driver buy car insurance to pay for my damages after the fact?”
The answer to your question is, “No.” No reputable auto insurance provider in Florida will agree to sell a policy that would cover events that already happened. In fact, “backdating” insurance coverage is illegal and can be considered insurance fraud.
RELATED: The Do’s and Don’t’s in a Car Accident
Can a motorist purchase car insurance on the day of the accident?
Generally, drivers can purchase auto insurance any time they want. However, the fact that a driver was involved in an accident before purchasing car insurance could affect their premiums and the terms of their policy.
Depending on the auto insurance provider, an insured motorist can file a claim as soon as their insurance is issued. The date when a policyholder will be allowed to make a claim after buying insurance should be specified in their insurance contract.
But again, even if a driver buys car insurance immediately after the crash, they will not be able to obtain coverage for that accident because it already happened.
Other options: Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state
If you were injured in a car crash caused by an uninsured driver, you may worry that you would not be able to get compensated for your injuries and damages.
Fortunately, Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means drivers can file a first-party claim with their own car insurance providers to cover the medical bills and other damages covered under the policy.
Under Section 627.736, Florida Statutes, all Florida motorists are required to purchase $10,000 for their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 for property damage liability coverage. Thus, if you have your own car insurance, the fact that the other person is not insured is not that big of a deal unless you suffered a serious injury and your losses exceed $10,000.
What to do if you exhaust your PIP coverage?
If you have exhausted your PIP coverage, you have a right to step out of the Florida no-fault system to pursue a third-party claim against the at-fault driver.
Since the at-fault motorist is uninsured, you would bring a lawsuit against the driver himself to seek compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Alternatively, if you run out of PIP coverage and you carry uninsured motorist coverage (UM) as part of your auto insurance policy, you may be able to pursue a UM claim to recover additional damages.
Contact our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys
It’s advised to consult with a personal injury attorney in West Palm Beach if your auto accident was caused by an uninsured motorist. If the at-fault driver did not have enough money to purchase car insurance in the first place, it is unlikely that he would be able to pay for your damages out of pocket.
For this reason, it is essential to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Florida to explore all available sources to recover damages.
Schedule a free consultation with our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Fetterman & Associates, P.A., to help you navigate the insurance claims process if you sustained injuries in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver. Give us a call at 561-845-2510.