Dealing With Florida Car Accident Claims

Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, many drivers think their best bet is to simply contact their insurance company and let the chips fall where they may. This attitude could mean you will not get the reimbursement you think you may be entitled to, particularly if you were not at fault for the accident. Remember, under the no fault statutes, your initial claim would go through your insurance company but, that does not mean they will be working hard to ensure you are financially whole after an accident.

Complications with Car Accident Claims
There is little doubt after a car accident, you will have numerous challenges to face. Damage to your car, injuries, and lost time from work can mean you are under a great deal of stress. Because the no-fault laws only require you to maintain $10,000 in personal injury coverage (PIP), there is a good chance you are going to have additional out of pocket charges, particularly if you suffered a serious injury. This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to contact a St. Petersburg car accident attorney after you speak with your insurance company.

Other complex situations you can face after a car accident may involve:

  • Ride Share Accidents
  • Out of State Drivers
  • Under Insured Drivers
  • High Out of Pocket Costs

Therefore, it is imperative you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Keep in mind, the insurance company will be interested in protecting their bottom line, not on making sure you are made financially whole after an accident.

Denied or Low Settlement of Claims
One of the issues you could potentially face is the insurance company denying your claim, or only paying a portion of your claim. Generally, if you have an attorney, this is less likely to occur since the insurance company knows you have someone protecting your rights and looking out for your best interests.

Since this is the case, the insurance company may deny all or part of your claim. Victims should be able to file a claim for the full financial burden associated with the accident including damage to their vehicles, medical bills, and for wages lost while recovering. The more serious the injury, the more likely a victim is to exceed the amount of their PIP coverage.

Remember, you have up to four years to file a personal injury claim after an auto accident. You do not have to accept the first settlement an insurance company offers and in most cases, you should not.

Talking to Insurance Adjusters in Florida
After a car accident in Florida is reported to your insurance company, you will be contacted by an insurance adjuster. You may get more than one call, one from your insurance company and one from the other person's insurance company. One thing to keep in mind is the insurance adjuster works for the insurance company and is not contacting you to protect your interests. They may recommend you have your health insurance pay for your treatment which you should not do under any circumstances. You want to have your treatment covered under your PIP coverage. Your health insurance may be used to pay for copayments but not for your treatment.

Another step the insurance adjuster may take is offering you a fast settlement, even if you are still undergoing treatment for your injuries. Remember, the best interest of the insurance company is that a claim is paid as quickly as possible for as little as possible. If you accept a settlement, you may also be asked to sign a release which could prohibit you from making any additional claims.

Drivers or passengers involved in an accident should avoid speaking with the other person's insurance adjuster, and should not accept the first settlement offered, particularly if they are still undergoing treatment for their injuries. Should an insurance adjuster ask permission to record your discussions you should tell them you wish to speak with your car accident attorney first. Do not allow any statements to be recorded without talking to an attorney.

Car Accidents and Serious Injuries
Victims of a car accident should also be aware if they suffer a serious injury per Florida statutes, you may still have the right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Florida defines serious injury as one that results in permanent injury, significant disfigurement or scarring, or the loss of a bodily function such as hearing or sight. Families who have lost a loved one in a  car accident also have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Another complicating factor in Florida settlements for car accident claims is the pure comparative negligence rule which states that victims who are partially responsible for the accident may have their settlements reduced by the percentage they are found liable for the accident.

Contacting a Car Accident Attorney
Since the insurance company is typically more interested in protecting their bottom line, than protecting you, their customer, you may need someone to serve as your advocate. The insurance process can be complicated, even when you are dealing with a company with whom you are familiar. Too often, consumers feel pressured into accepting less money than what they might be otherwise entitled.

You can protect yourself by working with an attorney who is familiar with the no fault insurance claim process. When the insurance company is aware you have sought legal assistance, they will generally understand future contact will be conducted through your attorney. Remember, once you have retained legal help, you can simply refer all questions from the insurer to your attorney.

If you have been involved in an auto accident in Florida, contact  a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Our goal will be to make sure you have an advocate working on your behalf ensuring you will get a fair shake from the insurance company.

Image credit: Wssw (talk | contribs)