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Florida Supreme Court Clarifies Application of UM Insurance to Wrongful Death Claim

Uninsured motorist coverage, called “UM” for short, is an excellent type of insurance to have. It will kick in when a person is injured by a motorist who does not have liability coverage. Even better, the insurance follows the insured, not the insured’s vehicle. This means a motorist can tap it even if they were injured in a different vehicle than the one they registered with the policy.

These issues were in dispute in a recent court case that made its way to the Florida Supreme Court, involving a wrongful death case. The decision is very favorable to consumers and their survivors.

Family Seeks Wrongful Death Benefits

Michael Lentini bought an insurance policy on his 1992 Corvette collector vehicle but then was killed while riding his motorcycle. Mr. Lentini’s family sought wrongful death benefits from his uninsured motorist policy with American Southern Home Insurance Company. The insurance company, however, rejected the claim and defended its decision in court.

American Southern pointed to language in its policy that limited uninsured motorist coverage to injuries that occur in the collector vehicle and argued that Mr. Lentini died while operating a motorcycle. The case wound its way up to the Supreme Court and turned largely on whether collector vehicle insurance policies needed to comport with the provisions contained in Fla. Stat. § 627.727.

The insurer argued that this section does not apply to collector or antique vehicle insurance policies. But the Supreme Court disagreed, stating that the law applies to all motor vehicle liability insurance policies issued in Florida.

Deceased Did Not Reject or Limit UM Coverage

Although insurers must offer UM coverage, Floridians always have the power to reject it, often because they want a lower premium. Nevertheless, the law requires that this rejection be in writing, and Mr. Lentini did not reject coverage in this case.

Insurers can also include other limitations on their UM policies. For example, they can limit the coverage to injuries sustained in only certain vehicles. However, the policyholder must agree to this limitation in writing, and Mr. Lentini did not. For these reasons, the court held that uninsured motorist benefits were applicable in this case.

Wrongful Death Attorneys in Miami

Uninsured motorist benefits are sometimes in play in fatal car accidents, and the recent Florida Supreme Court case could prove helpful for our clients.

If a loved one has died in a motor vehicle accident, please contact our firm today. The team at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein has obtained over $100 million in compensation for our clients, and we are available to meet with you to discuss your case. Call 305-371-2692 to schedule a complimentary consultation.