What You Need to Know About Car Accident Claims
Living in the State of Florida can be next to impossible without owning or having access to a motor vehicle. Most of us have a vehicle and if not people have to travel in a motor vehicle at some time or another. Unfortunately, this also means that almost everyone in Florida that drives has been involved in a car accident in some form or another. For the most part, accidents do not result in life threatening injuries and instead mostly consist of fender benders.
However, there are still a disturbingly large amount of people left over that experience severe injury through involvement in car accident or worse yet, lose their lives. Often these injured drivers may have been driving and minding their own business only to have someone like a drunk driver slam into them at full speed to give them a serious injury and a heap of expenses to contend with. How do these damages get paid since these victims were not at fault?
Florida is a No-Fault Car Accident Coverage State
Florida is what is called a “no-fault” policy state. This means that if you get into an accident, each party is responsible for going through their own insurance to pay for an accident. Every Florida driver is required to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection. This is otherwise known as PIP coverage. This PIP coverage will cover medical expenses and lost wages that a driver may have because of their involvement in an accident, regardless of who caused the accident. So when people get injured in a car accident, the PIP coverage that each party involved has pays for their respective injuries.
The tricky issue that many Florida drivers are not aware of is that under Florida law, their PIP coverage only covers up to 80% of their medical expenses and 60% of their lost wages in the event that they get in an accident. So this creates situations where an injured person’s non-life-threatening or nonpermanent injuries decrease the amount they would receive from insurance. On top of this, they have to contend with their deductibles and the fact that they are only receiving a percentage of the damages they suffered. In the end, many car accident victims only receive a fraction of the compensation that they need for their damages.
Exemptions to Florida No-Fault Car Accident Coverage
There are exceptions to the no-fault policy rule in Florida. In cases where a car accident victim suffers a permanent injury, then they become eligible to seek compensation for their permanent injury. Additionally, it may be possible to receive compensation for other damages like pain and suffering. This would be done by making a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. The definition of a permanent injury is somewhat flexible. However, the essence is that it’s an injury that permanently causes medical issues for a victim. For example, this could be like a severe traumatic brain injury or nerve damage.
Another exemption to the no-fault coverage policy is when an injury may not be permanent but it’s medical expenses exceed the $10,000 PIP coverage the victim has. Then the injured car accident victim can seek compensation from the at-fault driver for their especially costly injury.
What is a Car Accident Claim?
A car accident injury claim is a petition to your or an at-fault person’s insurance company to cover damages. These can include medical expenses sustained because of a car accident. It is important to remember that even though another driver may be at fault for an accident, they don’t pay directly out of their pocket. Instead, it is the insurance companies that you will be dealing with and the ones who will be paying settlements.
When you are severely injured from a car accident and are filing a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company, it is important to have an attorney working for you. That way a professional can make sure you aren’t taken advantage of by an insurance company. Of course, there’s also the benefit of a negotiator to work to get you the best settlement possible.
Proving Driver Negligence in a Car Accident Claim
Insurance companies are not in the business of giving handouts. They are in the business of making a profit. This means doing everything they can to minimize the amount of money that they payout to claims. They will often seek to find some kind of defense to deny a claim by shifting negligence. That is why it is important to gather any evidence possible of fault in the accident. Your goal is to show that the at fault driver’s negligence lead to the accident and your injury.
This means that you are essentially trying to show that the other driver did something wrong. For example, this could be driving without headlights in the rain or being distracted by their phone. There are a few simple things that you can do to immediately help a car accident claim. First off, calling the police should be your first step in any car accident. Police reports provide a wealth of useful information like location, witness statements, weather conditions, time, and date. Additionally, it’s a highly credible source of information to bring to suit. Taking pictures or video of the accident helps as well. Getting the name and number of any possible witnesses for a statement is also very useful down the line.
Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
The best thing you can do when you are severely injured in a car accident is seek a lawyer experienced in car accident injury claims. You could pursue a claim on your own. However, the odds of successfully navigating the many pitfalls of insurance tricks and legal processes is greatly diminished. Insurance companies have everything they need to successfully deny a claim. Essentially, that is their goal since profits are their main priority. Insurance companies have the experience, personnel, resources, lawyers and money to fight a claim to any extent necessary. If it turns into a “who can withstand the storm longer” type of situation, the answer will always be the insurance company when competing against an injured victim on their own.
It doesn’t cost you anything to get an injury attorney to look at your case. Likewise, car accident lawyers don’t cost anything out of pocket since they work on a contingency fee basis. This means they take a percentage of the settlement once the claim is seen through. It also means we don’t get paid at all if an injury victim doesn’t recover financial compensation. You or your loved ones are likely significantly injured if you are even considering hiring a car accident attorney in the first place. So you should focus on your recovery while a professional works to maximize your settlement with the insurance companies and courts.
If you have been injured in a car accident in the Stuart or Gainesville, Florida area, contact the experienced personal injury team at The Eberst Law Firm. We are ready to handle your case. You can contact us online or call us at 772-225-4900.