After a car accident in Florida, a lot of people don’t understand that they must reach out to their own insurance provider first to get the claim process going. What few people don’t realize, however, is that your insurance provider is not on your side.
Florida is a no-fault state, at least for now (state lawmakers proposed a bill in 2021 to end the no-fault rule). That means even if you didn’t cause your car crash, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage — which is mandatory for all registered vehicles in Florida — pays for a portion of your medical bills (as long as the medical treatment is “reasonable and necessary”) and a percentage of your lost income (60% of your lost earnings for the period you can’t work as a result of your injuries, up to the policy limit of $10,000).
Vehicles registered in Florida are required to have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL), and PIP covers the owner of the vehicle as well as any passengers or pedestrians/bicyclists who are hit by the covered vehicle, as long as they don’t already have their own coverage. PIP also covers the vehicle owner’s children if they’re a passenger in the vehicle or on a school bus.
How to protect your rights after a car accident
After an accident, if you are well enough, there are some things you can do to protect your rights and support your claim.
If the police haven’t yet arrived, call 911. The investigating police officer will generate an official accident report, and this document is often a valuable piece of evidence to your claim.
Seek medical treatment right away
If an EMT or paramedic offers to check you out, let them. You may feel okay after an accident while the adrenaline and shock are numbing your pain, but that can subside. An emergency medical responder can examine you for injuries and take you to the hospital or emergency room for treatment, if needed. If you don’t get checked out at the scene of the crash, go see a doctor as soon as possible to be examined for any potential injuries. Sometimes injuries like whiplash, a concussion, or a back injury aren’t immediately noticeable after a crash, and the longer you wait to seek treatment, the more fuel you give the insurance company to question the severity of your injuries.
Take pictures of the crash scene from different angles, all property damage, and any visible injuries. Be sure to also get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses.
Don’t go into too much detail about your crash
It’s common to feel rattled after a car accident. You’ve just been through something shocking and traumatic as well as painful and possibly life-altering. At the scene of the accident, you shouldn’t try to go into too much detail about the crash or speculate about the severity of your injuries. Be polite, cooperate with the police, and tell them the truth (stick to the facts of what you know).
Make a timeline
As soon as you are able and while it’s all still fresh in your mind, write down the events of the crash, the time, date, location, people involved, etc.
Call a lawyer
After a bad crash it’s typically a good idea to contact an attorney. A car accident lawyer can accurately calculate the true cost of your injury and deal with the insurance company on your behalf to advocate for appropriate compensation.
What makes the claim process so difficult?
After all those years of dutifully paying into your insurance policy, filing a claim and getting compensated for your losses should be easy, right?
It’s time for the insurance company to keep their promises and come through for you in your time of need. Unfortunately, instead of helping you’re most likely going to get the runaround.
Insurance companies have a vested interest in paying you the least amount of money as possible, and it’s all in a day’s work for an insurance adjuster to misrepresent coverage, purposefully delay your claim, question the severity of your injuries and/or the need for certain medical treatment, offer you a “lowball” settlement, and insist that you don’t need to get a lawyer involved.
Then, once they’re done telling you not to call an attorney, they immediately reach out to theirs. Again, no matter how friendly an insurance adjuster might sound, they are not on your side. They care more about protecting their bottom line than making sure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Show the insurance companies you’re serious
At The Cerasa Law Firm LLC, we believe the insurance companies have a duty to uphold their end of the deal. We close loopholes, shred technicalities, and clarify coverage that adjusters have misinterpreted.
If you own a car, truck, motorcycle, or another type of insured vehicle, it’s important you understand your rights and how to navigate the claims process before calling the insurance company.
While your mandatory PIP coverage will kick in to pay for medical bills and lost income, crashes that cause severe injuries often result in costs that far exceed PIP policy limits.
To get your accident-related expenses paid, you can step outside Florida’s no-fault system and file a lawsuit if:
- Another driver was at-fault or partially at-fault for your crash.
- Your injuries resulted in losses that exceed the $10,000 you have in PIP coverage.
- You’ve suffered a severe injury that caused a bone fracture, loss of a bodily function, significant disfigurement, scarring, permanent damage, or death.
Keep in mind that while your PIP coverage will pay for certain accident-related expenses (up to policy limits), it doesn’t include things like your pain and suffering or other non-economic damages. When you meet the requirements and are able to step outside Florida’s no-fault system, you can seek compensation for all your losses.
An Orlando personal injury lawyer knows how to help
If you were injured or a loved one died in a Florida car accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages. The problem is the claims process is complex and insurance companies want to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible, even if it comes at your expense.
If you aren’t careful, you could end up having to pay out of your own pocket for bills you didn’t create.
Don’t let an insurance adjuster who doesn’t have your best interests at heart play games with your health and finances. Let our law firm handle every aspect of your claim and fight for every dollar you deserve.
Contact The Cerasa Law Firm today for a free consultation. Our office is located in Winter Park, and we proudly serve clients throughout the Orlando area.