Spate of Hit and Run Accidents in Jacksonville Highlights the Need to Buy Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Our news outlets have been reporting on an unusually high number of hit and run auto accidents in Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach during the last few months. Hopefully, this is just a coincidence and not a long term trend. Just today, it was reported that a man received a sixty day sentence for a hit and run accident that caused a pedestrian's death on Jacksonville's northside.
Hit and run accidents result in a devastating circumstance for victims. There is, however, something you can do to protect yourself.
Drivers who leave the scene of an auto accident may do so for a myriad of reasons. The first that always comes to mind is that the driver was drunk or otherwise intoxicated at the time of the accident and fled to avoid manslaughter charges and a long prison sentence. Others may flee an accident because they were texting and driving, because there is a warrant out for their arrest or because they have no automobile insurance.
No matter what the reason, the victim and his or her family members are left in a horrible predicament. Without being able to identify the driver or owner of the car that caused the accident, the injured person is left without any ability to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, disability and pain and suffering . . . unless, he or she purchased uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage is something you can select when buying car insurance. It is optional and not required by Florida law. Sometimes people think they have uninsured motorist coverage because they understand they purchased "full coverage." For some reason, the phrase "full coverage" gets used a lot, and it is really a dangerous misnomer. "Full coverage" almost means just the opposite, which is the absolute minimum coverage allowed by law - and does not include uninsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage (usually referred to as U.M. coverage) provides benefits to you in the event you are injured in a car accident caused by a driver that has no insurance or has too little insurance to cover your injuries. It also applies when the driver or owner of the at-fault car cannot be located. For hit and run accidents in which the at-fault driver is never located, uninsured motorist coverage is typically the only source for making a recovery.
I carry $1,000,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage. The cost for this coverage for me is only a few hundred dollars per policy period. As a car accident lawyer, I see a lot of clients involved in accidents where the at-fault driver has no bodily injury coverage. In fact, some of the worst drivers, especially drunk drivers, have no insurance at all. Some of them do not even have a driver's license.
When a client comes to see me with serious injuries, mounting medical expenses and lost wages, it is very difficult to have to tell them that they have no claim to pursue when the at-fault driver cannot be located or has no bodily injury coverage. My advice is to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as you can afford.