Retired doctor settles UM claim for $550,000.00 even though the at-fault driver had no insurance

Attorney Jason MacriAuthor: Attorney Jason Macri

A 56 year-old retired doctor recently learned the importance of purchasing uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage from her auto insurance company. She was badly injured in a car crash with an uninsured driver while visiting South Florida. Unbeknownst to her at the time, the odds of being involved in a crash with an uninsured driver in Florida are quite high. Luckily, she previously purchased UM coverage from her auto insurance company based on a recommendation from her insurance agent. She also convinced her mother to purchase the coverage from her own insurance company as well.

Our client just so happened to be driving her mother’s car at the time of the crash. Her mother’s car was slammed from behind by another driver who then immediately fled the scene. A police officer who happened to witness the crash was able to apprehend the other driver and immediately placed the driver under arrest. He was charged with leaving the scene of a crash and also driving on a permanently suspended license. Needless to say, the driver had no insurance coverage whatsoever.

Though our client did not immediately get medical treatment, she quickly realized something was wrong. She was feeling a great deal of pain to her entire body but was focused mostly on the excruciating pain to her neck. She was quickly diagnosed with herniated discs of the neck and, after months of conservative therapy, she would endure a very serious and highly dangerous neck surgery. Luckily the surgery was a success and, though it took many months of recuperation, she was eventually pain free in the neck region.

Because the person who caused her crash was completely uninsured, our client was forced to make a claim against not only her own UM coverage but also the UM coverage on her mother’s policy. After many months of negotiation and threats of litigation, we were able to secure the policy limits of both UM policies for a total of $550,000.00. Though this money will never be able to mask the trauma of being involved in a potentially fatal car crash and will not remove the scars of her surgery and the harrowing experience she endured, our client expressed a sense of relief in knowing that a seemingly simple decision she made many years ago would be the sole reason that she was able to make a financial recovery today.

We cannot stress the importance of purchasing UM coverage when getting insurance, no matter the cost. Too many drivers on Florida’s roads today are uninsured. The only way to combat this epidemic is by ensuring that coverage will be available regardless of who causes the crash. My advice is to call your insurance company today and inquire as to whether you have UM coverage and, if so, what amount? If you do not have it, buy it! If the amount of your UM coverage is not high enough, increase it! This is the best way to protect yourself and your family in the event of a tragic car crash.

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