In Florida, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is controlled by the auto insurance contract. Florida has a five-year statute of limitations that applies to contract lawsuits. F.S. 95.11(2)(b).
Thus, you have five years to sue for UM benefits.
Mike lives in Miami, Florida. He is driving his car on I-95 in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Another car cuts him off. Mike is forced off the road. 911 is called. He takes an ambulance to the hospital.
The other car drives off. Mike suffers a hip fracture. He has surgery to fix it.
Mike has uninsured motorist coverage with GEICO. Mike has five years to sue GEICO for his uninsured motorist lawsuit.
Mike has four years to sue the careless driver. However, in this example, the careless driver is long gone. Therefore, the four-year deadline is irrelevant.
I settled a case with these facts with GEICO. (I changed my client’s name).
The GEICO policy had $10,000 in stacking UM coverage. There were five vehicles on the policy, so the UM limits were $50,000.
We settled for $50,000. All the settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery.
It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
The cause of action for UM benefits starts on the day of the accident. The statute of limitations begins that day.
The statute of limitations is tolled once the claimant sues the UM insurer or the UM insurer agrees to arbitration.
In the above example, assume that four and a half years after the crash, Mike sues GEICO.
Once suit has been filed, the case can still proceed against GEICO even after the 5 year mark has passed.
Expiration of SOL on insured’s claim against tortfeasor does not prevent UM claim
The expiration of the limitations period as to the tortfeasor, a procedural defense, does not prevent an insured’s right to recover UM benefits.
Take the above example. Assume that the hit and run driver, Bruce, stopped at the scene.
If Mike does not sue Bruce within four (4) years, Mike may still be able to recover UM benefits. Lewis v. Allstate Ins. Co., 667 So.2d 261, 263 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995);Jones v. Integral Ins. Co., 631 So.2d 1132 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994).
Policy executed in state other than Florida
If the uninsured motorist policy is from a state other than Florida, the other state’s statute of limitations applies. This is based on Florida Statute 95.10. It is known as the borrowing statute.
Margie, a resident of a state other than Florida, has uninsured motorist coverage on her car with Nationwide Insurance Company. She decides to drive with a friend to Florida.
While in Florida, a driver of another car makes an improper lane change. They crash.
The damage to the host vehicle is below.
The damage to the negligent driver’s car is below.
Margie injures her shoulder. She tears her rotator cuff. She has surgery to fix it.
Margie’s home state has a 2 year statute of limitations on UM claims. In Florida, Margie will only have 2 years to sue Nationwide for UM benefits.
This is because the Margie’s auto policy was executed outside of Florida. Therefore, her foreign state’s statute of limitations applies.
I settled this case for $147,000. (I changed my client’s name).
I gave examples that included GEICO and Nationwide. GEICO is one of the largest Florida private passenger auto liability insurers.
Which Florida auto insurers make up the top 15 in terms of market share for UM liability coverage for private passenger vehicles?
Per the FLOIR Annual Report, the top 15 (by Florida market share) are:
- State Farm
- United States Automobile Association (USAA)
- Travelers Home and Marine Insurance Company
- Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois (A Liberty Mutual Company)
- 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company (part of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies)
- Infinity Insurance Company
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in a Florida car crash or other type of accident?
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