Tampa Bay roads have seen two terrible crashes within the last week.
On Monday, four teenagers stole a Ford Explorer and raced through Palm
Harbor before dawn. They blew through a red light at more than 100 miles
per hour at Tampa Road and U.S. 19. As they entered the intersection,
they encountered a local man driving his Toyota Camry to work. The Explorer
smashed into the Camry, destroying both vehicles.
Three of the four teenagers in the Explorer were killed. The man driving
the Camry, Ricky Melendez, suffered broken bones and internal bleeding.
According to the
Tampa Bay Times, he is now recovering at home and is thankful to be alive.
On Thursday afternoon, a Brandon woman lost control of her car on the Selmon
Expressway in South Tampa. She veered into the median, causing another
car to swerve across the road into oncoming traffic. The swerving car
hit two cars and burst into flames. All three of its occupants died.
The woman who set the wreck in motion regained control of her car and kept
driving. She was stopped and arrested moments later. She now faces multiple
charges, including DUI manslaughter.
Unfortunately, the victims of these terrible crashes may never get justice.
In stolen vehicle cases, there is often no insurance coverage available
at all. Even when coverage is available, as it may be for the Selmon Expressway
accident, there is typically not enough to go around. Cases involving
multiple deaths and serious injuries create high-dollar claims, and most
at-fault drivers do not carry enough insurance to cover them.
Thus, the only way to protect yourself from bad driving behavior by others
is to buy uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage, referred to people
in the industry as “UM,” kicks in when the at-fault driver
has no coverage, or inadequate coverage to cover your damages. Every driver
with a Florida auto insurance policy has a chance to buy UM coverage,
and you get it automatically unless you specifically decline it and sign a waiver.
UM also protects you when you’re not driving. UM coverage is available
to people struck by cars while they are walking or riding bicycles. As
long as the accident is caused by another car, the coverage still applies.
UM coverage would protect you, for example, if you were struck by an errant
car while sitting at a bus stop. It protects against hit-and-run vehicles too.
Unfortunately, some insurance agents don’t explain the importance
of this coverage. They assume people would prefer to decline it and save
some premium dollars. If anyone tells you that, don’t listen. Buy
this coverage if you can possibly afford it instead.
Even the safest driver can be a victim of bad driving by others. There
could hardly be more vivid examples of that than the terrible accidents
which happened here in the last few days.