Is It Worth Suing an Uninsured Driver?

March 6, 2024 | Jarrett Blakeley
Is It Worth Suing an Uninsured Driver?

In Florida and almost all states (except Virginia and New Hampshire), driving without car insurance is illegal. However, many people do, especially in the Sunshine State.

Insurance adjuster and car owner assessing damage to vehicle for claim report.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida has the sixth-highest rate of uninsured drivers in the country at 20.4%. If an uninsured driver causes an accident and injures you, you can sue them for the cost of your medical bills and other damages, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. For starters, unless the uninsured driver has significant assets, it’s usually not worth filing a lawsuit against them. And if the driver does have deep pockets, it may be difficult to get them to pay up. Usually, the best approach is to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. 

Sound hopeless and confusing? Insurance matters usually are. Let’s take a closer look at Florida laws and your options for financial recovery if you are injured in a car accident caused by an uninsured driver—and how a car accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can help you.

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Understanding Florida’s Insurance Laws

Florida is a no-fault state regarding car insurance claims. That means that after most car accidents, your own insurance policy's Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage pays for your medical bills and certain other expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. 

One word of caution: In Florida, to receive PIP benefits from your insurance company, you must receive medical treatment for your injuries within two weeks of the accident. 

Because Florida is a no-fault state, state law requires all drivers to carry proof of insurance with them whenever they drive a vehicle, and it must be up-to-date. Drivers must also show proof of Florida coverage when registering any new vehicle. 

The minimum requirements for all drivers are $10,000 in PIP and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). PIP covers 80% of all necessary and reasonable medical care up to the policy limits. PDL pays for damage to another person’s property that you or someone else driving your insured vehicle causes. 

However, PIP coverage does not compensate for all damages, especially in cases of serious injury or significant property damage. 

If your medical bills and lost earnings exceed your PIP threshold, or if you suffered severe or permanent injuries as defined under Florida law, you may file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.

Florida defines serious injuries as those that result in:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function,
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, or
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.

But what if the at-fault driver is uninsured? This is where the question of suing an uninsured driver comes into play.

The Financial Impact of Car Accidents

Car accidents, even those that seem minor at the time of the incident, can lead to serious injuries requiring extensive and sometimes long-term medical care. These injuries might include whiplash, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, and psychological trauma, among others. 

The complexity and severity of these injuries often necessitate costly medical treatment, including emergency care, surgeries, physical therapy, long-term medication, and counseling for psychological distress.

The financial impact can be significant and multifaceted. Initial emergency care and surgical procedures can result in substantial medical bills. However, the financial strain does not stop there. 

Ongoing costs such as medication, physical therapy, medical equipment, and the need for follow-up visits to specialists can add up quickly, creating a continuous financial burden. For many, the injuries may also result in lost earnings due to time off work or, in severe cases, loss of employment if the individual is no longer able to perform their job duties. 

This combination of mounting medical expenses and lost income can create a significant financial strain on victims and their families. 

Types of Compensation Available to Car Accident Victims

Fortunately, victims of car accidents have several avenues for seeking compensation to alleviate the financial burdens of their injuries.

These include:

  • Medical Expenses: Victims can seek compensation for all medical-related expenses, including but not limited to emergency services, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and any future medical treatments related to the injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Lost Wages or Income: Compensation can cover wages lost during the recovery period. If the injuries affect the victim's ability to earn a similar income as before the accident, they may also be eligible for compensation for loss of earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering: This category includes compensation for the physical pain and emotional distress suffered as a result of the accident. While more subjective, pain and suffering damages recognize the non-economic impact of the accident on the victim's life. Pain and suffering damages are only available if the victim’s injuries are significant and permanent.
  • Property Damage: Victims can receive compensation for the repair or replacement of their vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the accident.

Navigating the legal process to secure these forms of compensation can be complex. It often requires a thorough understanding of personal injury cases, evidence gathering, and negotiation with insurance companies. 

Many victims find it beneficial to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide them through the process, advocate on their behalf, and help ensure they receive the full compensation they deserve. The goal is not only to address the immediate financial strain but also to provide for the future needs of those who have been seriously injured in car accidents.

Challenges of Suing an Uninsured Driver

The primary challenge in suing an uninsured driver is the likelihood of recovery. Generally, individuals who do not carry auto insurance may not have the financial resources to cover their damages out of pocket. This means that even if you win the lawsuit, collecting the awarded damages could prove difficult or even impossible.

Considering the Alternatives

Before deciding to sue, explore all available options with your car accident lawyer.

This includes:

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage: If you have UM coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, you can file a claim for damages up to the limit of your policy. This coverage is specifically designed to protect you in incidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers.
  • Collision Coverage: For property damage, your collision coverage can pay for the repairs to your vehicle, minus your deductible, regardless of who was at fault.
  • Payment Arrangements or Settlements: In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a payment plan or settlement with the uninsured driver, allowing them to compensate you over time.

Making the Decision to Sue an Uninsured Driver

Deciding whether to sue an uninsured driver involves weighing the potential for recovery against the costs and time commitment of legal action.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Severity of Damages: If your damages exceed what can be recovered through your insurance or if you've suffered significant non-economic damages like pain and suffering, pursuing legal action might be more appealing.
  • Financial Stability of the Uninsured Driver: If the uninsured driver has assets or means to pay over time, a lawsuit could be more worthwhile.
  • Legal Costs: Consider whether legal expenses could outweigh the benefits. At Blakeley Law Firm, we often work on a contingency fee basis, which means you may not pay legal fees unless we secure a recovery on your behalf.

Before making a final decision, it is crucial to seek legal advice and guidance from professionals who handle personal injury and car accident cases.

Toy cars in collision before American flag and justice scales.

By consulting an experienced attorney, you can gain valuable insights into the legal complexities surrounding accidents with uninsured drivers. They can provide you with the necessary information to understand your rights, options, and potential courses of action.

An attorney who handles these types of cases can assess the specific details of your situation, evaluating factors such as fault, insurance coverage, and potential compensation. They can guide you through the legal process and help you make an informed decision about whether pursuing a lawsuit is the best course of action for your case.

During your consultation with a lawyer, be sure to ask questions and voice any concerns you may have. They can address any uncertainties and provide clarity on both the benefits and challenges associated with pursuing legal action against an uninsured driver.

Finding appropriate legal representation is crucial when seeking advice and guidance regarding accidents involving uninsured drivers.

Here are some steps to help you find a qualified attorney:

  • Research: Start by researching attorneys who handle in personal injury and motor vehicle accidents in your area. Look for experienced professionals with a track record of success in cases involving uninsured drivers.
  • Read Reviews and Testimonials: Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get an idea of their experiences and satisfaction with specific attorneys or law firms.
  • Schedule Initial Consultations: Contact multiple attorneys and schedule initial consultations to discuss your case. Use these consultations to assess their experience, communication style, and compatibility with your needs and expectations.
  • Ask for Referrals: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or trusted professionals who may have had similar experiences and can provide referrals to competent lawyers.

Remember, the right attorney can provide the best possible legal representation and guidance throughout the process. By seeking legal advice and guidance from qualified professionals, you can make informed decisions about your options and choose the best path forward. They can help you understand the potential outcomes, risks, and benefits associated with pursuing legal action against an uninsured driver.

Need a Trustworthy Car Accident Attorney? Call Blakeley Law Firm for Your Free Consultation.

While there are legal remedies available for victims, such as PIP coverage and uninsured motorist coverage, it is essential to consult with an attorney who handles personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases. Seeking professional legal advice will help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and make informed decisions throughout the process.

Ultimately, deciding whether it is worth suing an uninsured driver in Florida requires careful consideration of all the factors discussed. By understanding the implications, consulting with legal professionals, and exploring alternative options, you can determine the most appropriate course of action for your individual circumstances.

At Blakeley Law Firm, we understand the frustration and uncertainty of being involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are committed to exploring every avenue to secure the compensation you deserve.

If you're facing this situation, we encourage you to reach out for a free consultation. Let us assess your case and guide you through the decision-making process, ensuring your rights and interests are fully protected. Contact us today at (954) 253-9445 or through our online form to discuss your case.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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