A recent report issued by PolicyGenius shows that Florida currently ranks 10th in the nation in the number of serious car accidents. The sobering figures show that in 2019, at least 3,000 Floridians died in motor vehicle accidents. Another recent study published by the Insurance Information Institute demonstrates that Florida ranks 6th in the nation for the greatest percentage of the population that is uninsured. According to the study, more than 20% of Florida's population is driving on the streets without insurance. These numbers are even more distressing when you consider that Florida is a "No-Fault" state, and even among the 80% of insured drivers, some may not have bodily injury coverage included in their auto insurance policy.
In Florida, the average driver carries a policy covering the minimum legal coverage requirements, which are capped at $10,000. Securing and maintaining substantial bodily injury coverage can be costly. For that reason, many Florida drivers opt for minimal coverage and cross their fingers.
In the event of a serious car accident where a driver or passenger suffers physical bodily harm, the medical expenses and related costs can be financially disastrous. If the at-fault driver had bodily injury coverage, that policy would assist in covering the medical bills and expenses of the injured parties (up to the policy limits).
Suppose the at-fault driver lacked adequate coverage or had no bodily injury coverage. In that case, the injured party will be responsible for paying for their medical expenses. It will not be reimbursed for their loss unless the injured person has "uninsured motorist" coverage on their insurance policy.
Uninsured Motorist coverage permits the injured party to look to his own insurance company for assistance in the absence of adequate insurance from the at-fault party. In that case, the injured/insured party's insurance company would step in and act as the insurer for the at-fault party and pay the injured party on the at-fault party's behalf.
After all, amounts are paid out to the injured/insured party, and the insurance company may choose to file a suit against the at-fault party to recover all the money they had to pay their client due to the at-fault party's negligence. This process is called "Indemnification."
Also worth mentioning is Florida's "Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine," which permits the injured party to hold both the at-fault driver and the owner of the car accountable if the driver was operating the vehicle with the owner's permission.
If the insurance company brings a lawsuit to the at-fault driver and obtains a judgment (and these judgments are typically for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars), they will have the authority to garnish the at-fault driver's wages, freeze their bank accounts, and seize their assets through levies.
Furthermore, judgments issued in auto negligence lawsuits enable the insurance company, or the collection attorneys they employ, to suspend the at-fault driver's (now the judgment debtor's) driver's license unless and until the debtor pays the judgment amount, enters into a settlement agreement, or discharges the auto negligence judgment in Ch. 7 Bankruptcy or Ch. 13 Bankruptcy.
Without an uninsured motorist policy, the injured party would need to pursue compensation from the at-fault party directly. Typically, this would involve filing a lawsuit and obtaining a judgment to pursue the compensation. However, collecting on the judgment can be challenging if the at-fault party lacks sufficient funds, income, or assets. Additionally, the at-fault party can eliminate the judgment through bankruptcy, leaving the injured party with no means of recovery.
In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, the debt would be entirely discharged and eliminated, while in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a small portion of the debt would be repaid over a period of 3 or 5 years.
If you are an at-fault driver in an accident and do not have bodily injury coverage or inadequate coverage, you should speak with a debt lawyer or bankruptcy attorney. Consulting with an attorney experienced in auto negligence defense and bankruptcy will assist you in determining the optimal course of action to avoid an auto negligence judgment being entered against you. Your available choices are likely to involve defending the case, negotiating a settlement with a reduced balance and payment plan, or discharging the auto negligence judgment debt in Ch. 7 bankruptcy or Ch. 13 bankruptcy.
In addition to the auto negligence judgment, the bankruptcy will likely discharge most other unsecured debts, including hospital bills, doctor bills, medical collections, credit cards, personal loans, car & auto repossession deficiencies, and more. Filing bankruptcy will promptly halt all collections lawsuits, garnishments, driver's license suspensions, and calls from creditors that are trying to collect on your debt.
The protections granted to debtors in bankruptcy are immediate and almost complete. I remember a bankruptcy case from a few years ago where I represented a debtor who was being sued by GEICO insurance for indemnity in an accident where my client was at fault and lacked sufficient bodily injury coverage. We determined that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy was the most suitable approach for him to leave this accident behind and move forward with his life. He learned his lesson and has since maintained adequate insurance.
However, GEICO's attorney resumed collection efforts and their lawsuit after the bankruptcy discharge despite being warned several times against doing so in violation of the bankruptcy laws. GEICO and their attorneys obtained a judgment and suspended my client's license, even though the debt had been lawfully discharged in his bankruptcy filing.
I utilized the punitive powers of the bankruptcy code to file a lawsuit against GEICO and its attorneys, resulting in a substantial judgment in favor of my client, which adequately compensated for the trouble he endured.
When faced with the complexities of Auto Negligence & Indemnification Lawsuits in Florida, seeking the assistance of a skilled lawyer can provide you with invaluable advantages. At Fleysher Law, our experienced attorneys stand ready to protect your rights and navigate the intricacies of these legal matters. Discover the five compelling benefits of employing our expertise:
Take control of your future and safeguard your financial well-being. Contact Fleysher Law today for a confidential consultation and put our distinguished legal expertise to work for you. Let us guide you towards a brighter tomorrow, free from the burdens of auto negligence and indemnification lawsuits.