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Jury Awards $2 Million in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit for UIM Coverage

A jury in Lake County has awarded $2.3 million in a Florida personal injury lawsuit filed by a woman whose car accident injuries occurred in two separate crashes: One in 2007 and another in 2014. West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers recognize that while it is unusual for such claims to take nearly 10 years to resolve, it’s not unheard of in a complex case where auto insurers fight tooth-and-nail. While successful settlement negotiation is often preferred, your attorney should not hesitate to press these claims to court if defendant’s settlement offers are too low. 

According to a local news report of the injury case, the woman’s first Florida personal injury lawsuit was filed in 2010 (within the four-year statute of limitations for Florida injury lawsuits) after an uninsured driver crashed into her on State Road 50, resulting in damage to a disc in her vertebrae. At the time, plaintiff was living with her grandmother and was covered under her grandmother’s auto insurance policy (often such policies do cover resident relative drivers, though it’s important to check the exact language). That policy did provide protection for collisions involving uninsured motorists. The second crash occurred in 2013, which re-injured her back, requiring a spinal fusion surgery and installation of screws and other hardware. In the second crash, the insurer covering the at-fault driver only paid a small sum, leaving plaintiff again to compensation from her grandmother’s insurer for underinsured motorist coverage. The policy covered up to $300,000 in damages, but plaintiff’s medical bills alone were estimated at more than $550,000.

The insurer fought to discredit plaintiff’s claim for damages, arguing there was evidence of her doing things she would not be able to do were injuries as severe as she claimed, including kayaking, running, twisting and bending. Both sides in the Florida personal injury lawsuit hired expert witnesses to bolster their positions. In the end, jurors awarded compensation for past and future medical bills and past pain and suffering, as well as $1.3 million for future pain and suffering. 

When a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit is Against Your Own Insurer

Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, per F.S. 627.736. However, as our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys can explain, fault is still a factor, particularly in more serious crash cases. That’s at most, personal injury protection (PIP) benefits cover $10,000 in damages (and only $2,000 if your injuries aren’t considered emergent). That $10,000 includes up to 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages. One can only step outside the no-fault system and file a claim and/ or Florida personal injury lawsuit if they meet the “serious injury threshold,” as outlined in F.S. 627.737(2). This criteria includes:

  • Significant and permanent loss of important bodily function;
  • Permanent injury (other than scarring disfigurement);
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement;
  • Death.

Furthermore, Florida is one of only a few states that don’t require drivers to carry bodily injury liability insurance – only $10,000 in PIP and $10,000 in property damage. Drivers are technically responsible for up bodily injuries they cause to others – $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident – which means motorists can be held personally responsible, their personal assets at risk if they don’t have coverage. Unfortunately, many individuals lack that the personal assets necessary to make that sort of Florida personal injury lawsuit worthwhile.

This is why uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) is so critical for Florida drivers. It also is not mandated (though auto insurers are required to offer it, motorists can choose to reject it with a written waiver). UM/ UIM coverage, as outlined in F.S. 627.727,  is insurance you buy that covers YOU in the event you are injured in a crash caused by an at-fault motorist in one of the following scenarios:

  • At-fault driver fled the scene/ hit-and-run;
  • At-fault driver was uninsured;
  • At-fault driver had auto insurance, but it was not enough to cover the full extent of your injuries.

In these cases, though the claim is against your own insurer, you still must prove the fault of the unidentified/ uninsured/ underinsured driver.

In any Palm Beach crash where you have sustained serious injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, vital organ damage or significant scarring (or if your loved one was killed in a crash), it is imperative you contact a West Palm Beach injury lawyer to closely examine your legal options.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Woman wins $2 million jury verdict from State Farm, Oct. 10, 2018, By Frank Stanfield, Daily Commercial

More Blog Entries:

Court: Apportionment of Punitive Damages Not Required in Drunk Driving Case, July 29, 2018, Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit Blog


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