Victims of crashes find themselves in a very unfamiliar place. They often don’t know what to do about their cars and their bodies. How does the insurance work? Do I pay the medical bills, or use car insurance, or use health insurance? Are there deductibles?
Know your rights. The law that applies to motor vehicle crashes is complex and confusing. Florida has a “no fault” insurance system for crashes, which provides a specialized insurance product (personal injury protection) that brings benefits and detriments. Personal injury protection benefits (PIP) works like a limited health insurance and disability insurance, paying a portion of medical bills and wage losses regardless of who caused them. Certain restrictions apply, according to statute and the coverage options purchased on the policy. This “no fault” law also imposes a significant limitation to recovery of anything other than medical bills and lost wages in crashes. To recover for any other type of loss – like pain, disfigurement, and loss of capacity to enjoy life – a victim must suffer a permanent injury. There are different ways to satisfy this “permanency threshold”.
People often ask the following questions when they’ve been injured in a crash.
Your car insurance pays 80-100% of your doctor bills up to your PIP policy limits, regardless of who is at fault. If you have collision coverage, you can also use your insurance to pay for your car repairs, if the other driver has no insurance or is not cooperating. You may have other types of coverage on your policy that will pay for car crash losses. I am happy to review your insurance coverage with you.
The faulty driver is legally responsible for your losses, including your medical bills. Florida’s “no fault” laws requires your car insurance to pay some of your bills, but the rest of your losses should be paid by the faulty driver. Your doctors will not send bills to the other driver’s insurance company, so you’ll need to do process that yourself or hire someone to help you protect your rights and recover for your losses.
Florida law requires certain minimum car insurance coverage. Most people who claim to have “full coverage” really only have the minimum that the law requires., which pays nothing for a crash victim’s personal injuries. Hopefully, your car insurance policy includes Medical Payments or Uninsured Motorist Coverage, to protect you if the other driver only has the “full coverage”.
Under Florida law, car crash victims recover no pain and suffering monies unless they have a “permanent injury”. Claims adjusters often dispute this issue to lower the settlement value of car crash claims. There are several ways to prove a permanent injury, and victims generally need an advocate on their side to develop that proof and overcome the claims adjuster resistance.
At times like this, you need an accident attorney to help you through the process and advocate your best interests. Claims adjusters have a different focus. While most do their jobs ethically and within the bounds of the law, all claims adjusters work for the insurance companies, which are profit driven entities. Having a personal injury attorney at your side helps to “level the playing field” and makes sure that your best interests are effectively presented and pursued.
While having an advocate is good, having a Board Certified advocate that commands the respect of the claims adjusters is even better. To become Board Certified in Civil Trial, I had to accumulate extensive trial (courtroom) experience, high peer reviews, and high scores on the intense examination.
Only 7% of Florida lawyers have achieved the level of Board Certification.
I became Board Certified to help my clients get better settlement offers, because claims adjusters place a higher “value” on claims handled by Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers like myself. Why? The adjusters know that I will go the distance if need be, unlike many other Jacksonville personal injury lawyers who fear the courtroom, never go to trial, and always settle their client’s claims, even if for an insufficient amount. They can’t settle claims “on the cheap” with me.