Please note that I am not a Florida attorney (I am licensed in NY). From my quick review (found online) it seems that there is a 4-year statute of limitations (period within which to start a lawsuit) for injuries/damages caused by someone else's negligence. I am sorry to hear about your bill. Since Florida is a "no-fault" state, the person's own automobile insurance probably is responsible for their medical bills/lost wages. They still would be able to sue you for the 4-year period after the accident regarding the pain & suffering and economic damages above that paid by the no-fault insurance.
That being said, even if you are sued, the likelihood of your having to pay for anything is probably quite low. Your own car insurance company will hire attorneys to defend you and if they pay out/settle the claim, they will get a release stating that you are not responsible for anything past the insurance amount. You could "technically" be responsible if there is a jury verdict for anything over the amount of your insurance, however, most insurance companies prefer to settle within their own policy limits (because trying a case can be quite expensive, i.e. lawyers, experts, court fees, etc...).
If you want a status update as to where things are at, contact your own insurance company. They should tell you if a personal injury claim is being pursued, and if a lawsuit has been filed. If a lawsuit has been commenced, they will also be able to tell you the name of your attorney (that they will pay for). Good luck.
THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT IMPLY OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP IS IMPLIED OR CREATED BY RESPONDING OR FAILING TO RESPOND TO THIS RESPONSE. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE. FOR LEGAL ADVICE, YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY.
Your situation is not unusual as it is a result of Florida not REQUIRING bodily injury coverage in order to obtain a driver's license or register a car. This policy is sheer madness.
You most assuredly will be sued by the other driver's insurance company under a subrogation claim to recover the sums which the insurer paid to its driver under the UM policy. Given your financial situation, the insurer may be willing to negotiate this amount or have you sign a promissory note in exchange for not suing you, but I strongly asdvise you to contact a local injury and/or insurance attorney in your area for advice and to deal with the insurance company.
This is a harsh lesson to be learned unfortunately.... PLEASE do not drive again without bodily injury coverage. While it is not technically required under Florida law, I'm sure you would much rather have paid additional premium ( probably $1,000 or so for the year ) than the $56,000 the insurance company is now chasing you for. Since this was a debt incurred prior to the marriage, your fiancee's assets are safe, as will be any homestead property you may purchase. Good Luck.
Robert E. Heyman, Esq
Florida's tort statute of limitations is 4 years. Since the UM carrier has apparently already paid the claim, chances are they will commence a suit long before the 4 years runs.
Florida does not require compulsory automobile bodily injury liability coverage, although it certainly should require it. Owners and operators of vehicles in Florida take a huge risk by not carrying bodily injury liability coverage.
If you cannot resolve this matter before you are actually sued, and suit is filed against you, you may wish to consult with a bankruptcy attorney. Since your insurance did not provide for bodily injury liability coverage, your insurance carrier will not provide you with any defense counsel and you will be on your own. Unfortunately, a large judgment against you, not discharged in bankruptcy, may hamper you and your potential spouse from obtaining a mortgage and buying a home.
In the future, make sure that you buy bodily injury liability coverage and maintain adequate coverage at all times. You, as an owner of a vehicle in Florida, are also responsible for any negligent driving and damages caused by a permissive driver.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.
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