After being involved in a car accident and filing a claim with your insurance company, it is only natural to think that you will be fairly compensated for damages to your vehicle along with the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident. I can tell you that as an experienced car accident attorney who goes up against these large insurance companies every day, this is not the case.
When it comes to the valuation of damages, you should keep in mind that the insurance company wants to minimize their costs as much as possible- even if it means cheating the accident victim. It is for this reason you should be careful what you say to the insurance agent (yes, even your own) when talking with him or her after the accident. Never give a written or recorded statement to your insurance company without first speaking to an attorney.
The State of Florida is one of a dozen states that has no-fault insurance laws on the books. What this means is that if you are involved in a car accident, you must file the claim with your own insurance provider. All Florida drivers are required to carry $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that handles property damages and your medical expenses and lost wages in the event you are injured in a car accident, regardless of fault. The problem is this coverage does not cover much, which means you may still need to pursue damages from the driver who caused the accident. If the at-fault driver has adequate insurance to cover the costs of damages, great- but if not, you could be in trouble.
Florida ranks in the top 5 states when it comes to uninsured drivers (approximately 26.7 percent of drivers do not carry car insurance in the State of Florida), according to the Insurance Research Council (IRC).
Our No. 1 Tip to Florida drivers: Purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.
Underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you when the other driver either does not have car insurance or too little to cover the cost of damages in the accident. This coverage pays for you, your passenger or family member if injured by an ‘at-fault’ driver who does not have bodily liability insurance, not enough liability insurance to cover the total damages sustained in the accident or is driving without car insurance. This coverage applies whether you are riding in your car, someone else’s car or are struck by a car as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
A bonus for Florida drivers: In Florida, you have the option to “stack” your uninsured motorist coverage. This means that the limits of your UM coverage can be multiplied by the number of vehicles you have insured under the policy. For example, if the driver has several different cars insured under the same insurance policy, he or she can stack the different coverage from whatever uninsured limit is on each car. That means, if the driver has $25,000 uninsured motorist coverage on each car and has two cars, if he or she is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, the policyholder can use the full $50,000 of coverage from both policies.
What Factors Are Considered When Assessing Damages in Your Car Accident Claim?
The insurance company will look at many different factors when assessing the claim. They will look at how severe the accident was, the types of injuries sustained and the nature of the accident. If a police report was filed, they will request a copy of this report. Police officers are trained in reviewing the scene of an accident and accurately reporting what occurred, which is why insurance companies rely heavily on these reports. The adjuster will also interview the drivers involved, witnesses who saw the accident, and will re-visit the scene of the accident.
The first type of damage evaluated involves the damage to your car or property. The insurance company will review the police report from the accident and will interview everyone involved, as well as witnesses who may have seen what happened. They will also review the actual physical damage itself, meaning the cars involved or any other property that was damaged in the process. Property damage is oftentimes valued at the cost of repairs or replacement of the car, in the event it is totaled.
If you or a loved one suffered serious personal injury in the accident, you will need to file a claim with your insurance provider first and then pursue any additional damages for injuries if your insurance does not cover all your injuries. Unlike property damages, the injured party carries the burden of proof with respect to damages. It is important that you seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible following the accident so that your injuries can be properly documented.
The longer you wait to be seen by a doctor after a car accident, the more difficult it will be to prove that your injuries were in fact caused by the accident. Insurance companies –yes, even your own insurance company, love trying to blame your injuries on a ‘pre-existing’ health or medical condition. It is for this reason that you should seek immediate medical attention so that your injuries can be properly documented and attributed to the accident and not pre-existing conditions.
Another reason you need to seek immediate medical care is the fact that Florida PIP law requires you to obtain medical care within 14 days if you suffer injury in a car accident or your insurance company can deny your claim.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not be able to return to work immediately. During this time, you have the right to be compensated for your lost wages. A personal injury attorney can assist you in providing the correct documentation to file this type of claim.
The Benenati Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its injury clients and accident victims. In Orlando and throughout Central Florida victims injured in accidents or through negligence need only hit the 7s to reach the personal injury offices of the Benenati Law Firm. Our oath to you is handling your case from start to finish effectively, competently, and aggressively. Allow us the opportunity to give you the personal attention you deserve in your case. You pay us nothing unless we win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at 407-777-7777 for a free legal consultation. Abogado Hispano con experiencia en juicios sirviendo las necesidades legales de la comunidad de la Florida.