Does the Uninsured Motorist Coverage in my Automobile Insurance Policy cover my injuries? Most of the time, the answer to this question is easy: You, or an insured in your household, while occupying your insured motor vehicle, are hit and injured by either an uninsured motorist (someone with no bodily injury liability coverage), or an under-insured motorist (someone with insufficient bodily injury liability coverage). In an effort to further stress the importance of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage in Florida, this article will expand on a few other scenarios in which uninsured motorist coverage would protect you.
Specifically, uninsured motorist could provide vital coverage in the event you , or an insured family member, are injured by:
- A Phantom Motorist;
- A Hit and Run Motorist; or,
- While struck by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian.
Before I touch upon each of these scenarios, I should quickly revisit Florida Statute § 627.727 (Uninsured Motorist Statute). As I explained
in a separate blog, you should first understand when Uninsured Motorist coverage applies to a loss. As I stated, Uninsured Motorist “…is that coverage on a motorists own automobile insurance policy that can be used to cover the losses sustained by another motorist’s negligence.” “Essentially, if you are injured by the negligence of one of many Florida motorists who do not have liability coverage, then your uninsured motorist will “stand in the shoes” of the at-fault motorist, just as though he did have coverage.”
Hit and Run Motorist Accident
It is vital to have uninsured motorist coverage in the event that you are injured by a hit and run motorist. A Hit and Run accident occurs when your vehicle is physically hit by another vehicle, and the at-fault vehicle leaves the scene of the accident. The most common scenario is the at-fault driver who states that he or she intends to pull off to the side of the road, or perhaps into a parking lot, but then leaves the scene. As a personal injury attorney, I see this all the time with new clients. From the standpoint of recovering for the personal injury losses, this will not be a problem if the injured victim has enough uninsured motorist coverage. As stated, uninsured motorist coverage will “stand in the shoes” of the at-fault motorist, just as though he did have coverage. Therefore, although you may never learn of the identity of the hit and run driver, the amount of your uninsured motorist coverage will apply just as though he never left the scene, and had bodily injury liability coverage.
Phantom Motorist Car Accident
A Phantom Motorist is different than a hit and run motorist in that there is no physical contact between the at-fault motorist’s car and your car. There may be contact between you and another car as a result of the phantom motorist, but the phantom motorist never hits you. For example, let’s assume you are traveling down U.S. 19 in New Port Richey, and another vehicle runs a stop sign, cutting directly in front of you. You take an evasive action to avoid a collision, causing you to cut behind him to the right, and you hit a utility pole. If the at-fault motorist leaves the scene, then he is a phantom motorist. Your uninsured motorist coverage would be there to cover your losses, as it would stand in the shoes of the phantom motorist. This would also be true in the above example if you cut to the left to avoid a collision, and collided with one or more cars that were not at-fault vehicles. You cannot bring a claim against the other motorists, since they were not to blame, so you would bring an uninsured motorist claim against the phantom motorist who was the cause of the chain of events.
Injuries When Struck as a Pedestrian
It may surprise you to learn that if you carry uninsured motorist coverage, it will provide for your losses if you are a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle. I have even seen other attorneys confused on this point, because uninsured motorist coverage only applies when the injuries result from an accident “arising out of the use, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle.” However, it’s not whether you, the injured person who has uninsured motorist coverage, was operating a motor vehicle. Rather, it’s if the at-fault party was using, maintaining or operating a motor vehicle. This is why a pedestrian’s claim for personal injury or wrongful death is covered by UM in the event the at-fault motorist had no bodily injury liability insurance (or inadequate amount of coverage).
Please Note: While it is always important to speak to an attorney quickly after a car accident, it is especially important when an accident involves a hit-and-run or phantom motorist car accident. Frequently, automobile insurance policies will have “notice provisions” that cover these types of situations, and require an injured insured to give notice in as little as 24 hours! This is because witnesses have left the scene of the accident, and legally an insurance company has the right to extremely prompt notice, so that it can conduct a quick investigation.
As I have said in other articles, uninsured motorist coverage is vitally important in Florida. While most uninsured motorist claims arise because a known at-fault motorist causes personal injuries, there are many other scenarios in which UM coverage will offer protection.