How do you get money after a car accident in Florida? Learn about your options, including filing an insurance claim, hiring an attorney, and suing.
Car accident victims commonly don’t know where to start when they need compensation for personal injuries, medical bills, lost wages and property damage following an accident, especially in a state like Florida that utilizes a “no fault” insurance law.
Many drivers who are injured in a car accident think they should contact the other driver’s insurance, but that’s not how accident adjudication works in Florida. Injured drivers and the occupants of their vehicle must file the initial claim with the vehicle owner’s insurance company.
All drivers in an accident are assessed for contributory negligence in causing the wreck. This is determined by percentage, which will be used to discount any financial damages available for the driver’s personal injuries.
This system can easily put an injured driver in an adversarial position with their own insurance company, which often does not bode well for the driver. This is also why it’s vital to have an experienced and aggressive accident lawyer representing your claim.
Contact Your Insurance Company
One of the benefits of no fault insurance is that medical treatment for injuries can be authorized immediately regardless of who is at fault. But there can still be problems. All drivers should know how much insurance coverage they carry, along with any additional enhancement riders or reduced coverage for medical bills only.
Those carrying state insurance minimums who are seriously injured in an accident can maximize their coverage quickly based on the high cost of medical care. Opposing negligent parties to an accident cannot be pursued until this amount is exhausted, including pain-and-suffering. (And even then, the case must qualify based on the serious nature of the injuries.)
Not only can the insurance company be difficult when determining non-economic damages, the injured client is left to file for any additional damages from other negligent parties after the insurance is maxed out. These potential legal issues are why it’s important to contact a Tampa car accident attorney as soon as possible following a crash.
If you lend your vehicle to a loved one and a car accident occurs, regardless of who’s at fault, it’s important to take the right steps to ensure you’re legally protected under Florida law.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney
You should never attempt to handle a car accident claim yourself unless there are no complications and the amount of coverage is sufficient. When insurance claims become difficult, it becomes necessary to retain a personal injury attorney who can attempt a claim negotiation using the potential of a lawsuit as leverage.
The injured driver’s insurance company can still argue the amount of comparative negligence in an accident case as a method of reducing a claim, sometimes significantly when the claimant attempts to settle without legal counsel. A quick settlement offer from the insurance company to avoid litigation will also normally include a full release from future medical expense coverage, which means the claim cannot be revisited later.
No attorney will recommend this step, but insurance companies routinely use this tactic because the signature finalizes the settlement. An injury may cost much more in the long-term than the victim originally realized. An experienced personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation into the accident claim and calculate the full extent of damages.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Insurance companies that routinely attempt to deny or lessen an accident claim’s value as standard policy are usually prepared to take a case to court if it will be cost-efficient, even if they are your own insurance company. Your insurance company’s lawyers will often even provide a legal defense for the negligent driver in order to increase your contribution to the accident and lower their claim amount.
In addition, wrongful death cases can be very high-valued and possibly lead to loss of consortium claims for family members—a fact that few accident victims realize. Taking a case completely to trial is often done in only the most egregious accident cases because it gives a sympathetic jury an opportunity to award punitive damages along with compensatory claims, especially when an accident involved a drunk driver or speeding driver or a commercial vehicle.
Regardless of the nature of injuries in an auto accident case, insurance adjusters are primarily focused on their company’s profit margins. Insurance companies hire skilled legal teams that are always ready to take a case to court unless the outcome is very expensive. That’s why it is so vital to have qualified and dependable representation from a Tampa personal injury and car accident attorney fighting on your side.
If you or a loved one suffered in a Florida car accident and your injury costs exceed your coverage, or you’re claim was denied altogether, it’s time to contact a personal injury attorney. At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, we will help you determine the right steps to increase your chances of a successful outcome. We can investigate whether you have a grounds for a lawsuit, and if so, who you can sue, what damages you can sue for and how much your case is worth. Contact us for a free consultation today.