Florida is a popular tourist destination, and many visitors rent cars to travel during their vacations. If drivers with rented cars are injured in accidents, the other driver may lack adequate insurance to compensate them for their losses. Thus, they may seek damages from other sources, but it may not be clear who is ultimately responsible for providing compensation for the harm suffered. Recently, a Florida court set forth an opinion addressing the issue of whether a person hurt in a collision while driving a rental vehicle can recover uninsured motorist benefits from the insurer of the rental car. If you were hurt in a collision with an uninsured vehicle, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to speak to a trusted Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.
It is reported that the plaintiff was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist while operating a rental car. She filed a lawsuit against the defendant, the insurer of the rental car, arguing that it was required by law to make excess uninsured motorist coverage available in the amount of $1 million instead of $100,000. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed.
Florida Law Regarding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Florida law requires insurers to make excess uninsured motorist coverage available to their insureds. The coverage amount must be up to the bodily injury liability limits of the policy or $1 million, whichever is less. To determine whether the defendant in the subject case complied with the law, the court had to assess whether the defendant made excess uninsured motorist coverage available to the rental car company that was the named insured and whether the insurer made the coverage available to the plaintiff, assuming it had a duty to do so.
Florida courts have interpreted the phrase “make available” to mean offer. In the subject case, when the rental car company was faced with selecting either $100,000 or $1,000,000 in coverage, they chose the former, which the plaintiff argued was improper. First, the plaintiff argued that she was the purchaser of the subject policy, and therefore, she was the person to which the defendant should have offered the coverage.
The court disagreed, noting that several Florida courts acknowledged the right of a rental car company to reject uninsured motorist coverage on behalf of other insureds under the policy. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that before the insurer could make coverage available to a driver, the rental car company must have an insurable interest. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with an Experienced Florida Attorney
Many drivers lack sufficient insurance coverage, but they nonetheless cause collisions that lead to significant injuries. If you were hurt in a crash involving an uninsured motorist, you might be owed benefits from your insurer, and you should meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. Florida attorney Jarrett Blakeley is proficient at helping people hurt in accidents recover damages from the responsible parties, and if you hire him, he will help you seek the full amount of compensation available under the law. You can reach Mr. Blakeley via the form online or at (800) 602-5000 to schedule a meeting.