Florida is among the minority of states using a “no-fault” personal injury system. This causes auto accident victims to first file a claim against their own insurance before filing a claim with the defendant’s carrier. Understanding how this system works, as well as what to expect from dealing with insurance in general, can help you understand what to expect from the process as your order moves forward.
Florida liability insurance law requires that you carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
All Florida registered vehicles are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This is your insurance policy, against which you will file a claim, if you are injured by another driver. The minimum required PIP coverage is $10,000, though the driver can choose a larger policy. If your damages exceed the amount covered by your PIP coverage, you can file a claim against your other driver’s insurance. For all practical matters, any case involving serious injury is likely to exceed the $10,000 threshold.
There are many aspects of Florida law that you need to be aware of when it comes to your PIP coverage. First, you must file your PIP claim within two weeks of the accident. Second, only medical expenses incurred within the first two weeks, following an accident, will be eligible for PIP compensation. PIP coverage also does not compensate you for one hundred percent of your losses. Only eighty percent of your medical expenses will be reimbursed and the same applies to sixty percent of your lost wages. Furthermore, pain and suffering can be included in the claim against your PIP coverage. If your damages exceed the $10,000 maximum, you may include the pain and suffering as part of your claim against the defendant.
While dealing with your PIP coverage may seem relatively straightforward, it is recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to assist you. Mishandling a PIP claim can cause problems for your larger case, if not prevent you from recovering completely. By engaging an experienced counselor, you help ensure that your case is handled properly.
PIP coverage and wrongful death claims
If a driver is killed in a car accident, their PIP coverage will typically pay up to $5,000 for funeral costs. For obvious reasons, a wrongful death case is likely to have value well beyond the limits of PIP policy. This means that the deceased’s surviving family members will be able to sue for the loss of companionship, the earnings the deceased could have expected to earn during his lifetime, as well as the medical expenses incurred. The defendant will also be liable for the pain and suffering suffered by the deceased as well as the trauma suffered by the surviving family members.
Handling insurance after filing a PIP claim
Submit a settlement request to the insurance company
If your damages exceed the limits of your PIP policy (usually you would again), your attorney will quickly notify the defendant’s insurance company that you are represented by an attorney. The insurance company will then deal with your attorney directly so that you can focus on your treatment. Your attorney will submit a settlement request to the insurance company once they know your long-term prognosis and chances of recovery are reasonable. This application will indicate the amount of compensation you are requesting, the basis for your calculations, and will include documents that support your application. Your attorney and the insurance company will then engage in back-and-forth negotiations. If no settlement is reached, a lawsuit will be filed on your behalf.
A significant amount of time may pass between the time the accident occurs and the time the settlement request is sent to the insurance company. This is due to the fact that, as stated above, your long-term prognosis must be reasonably verifiable before an application can be submitted. If you accept the settlement, without being more certain of your recovery, you risk settling for less than you are actually entitled to. An example of this is if you suffer from dizziness and headaches after the wreck, and you think that this problem will be resolved. You accept a quick settlement, and when the neurological issues don’t go away, you won’t be able to return to the workforce. The discounted settlement you accepted could leave you without the money you need to support yourself and pay for future medical care.
When deciding whether or not to accept a settlement, the most important thing is to take your attorney’s advice. Your lawyer’s goal is to get you as much money as possible. The advisor will give you an honest assessment of whether the current settlement offer is “the best you can do” or whether you should wait for a larger amount.
Dealing with insurance after filing a lawsuit
The defendant’s insurance company will continue to participate in the case after the lawsuit is filed. Your attorney will continue to negotiate a potential settlement, while they are prosecuting your case, through the insurance company’s attorney. Insurance attorneys will report directly to the insurance company and any final amount will need to be approved by the insurance adjuster.
Contact a Florida auto accident attorney for assistance with your PIP claim
If you are involved in a car accident, you will only have a limited period of time in which to file a claim against your PIP policy. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible is the first step to making sure your case is handled properly.