When you file an insurance claim after a car accident, an insurance adjuster is supposed to review the damage to your car and your personal injuries and determine a payment you should receive through your policy. Unfortunately, Florida car insurance issues are rarely so clear-cut.
At the Disparti Law Group, P.A., we know that car insurance issues can be confusing to drivers. This can be particularly hard on drivers who already have to deal with injuries and other losses.
Below are five important insurance issues likely to arise after a Florida car accident.
1. Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
Under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have full liability insurance coverage in effect at the time of the crash. This coverage includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash and personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash.
Liability insurance is meant to insure that the driver can, through their insurance carrier, pay for damage and injuries in a wreck if they are at fault. But in a car accident that causes severe injuries, the minimum amount of coverage required in Florida will not be enough to pay medical bills and recovery costs. In these cases, there may be other sources of money that an injured driver can look to with the help of a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
2. Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists
Despite Florida’s legal requirements, some drivers do not obtain insurance or do not obtain enough insurance coverage. If the at-fault driver in your car accident is an uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM / UIM), you will need to file a first-party claim under your own insurance policy to obtain compensation for your injuries.
Your insurer, which is likely to be a for-profit company, may deny your claim or try to pay a settlement that is less than what you deserve. This is when an attorney experienced with Florida insurance cases can serve as your advocate and seek better results for you.
3. Reporting a Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, you should insist that the crash be reported to law enforcement so that they can complete the appropriate forms. If there is no official crash report, you risk not being fully compensated for your damages. This can also expose you to personal liability. With no official report of the crash, the circumstances of your car accident become your word against the other driver’s word.
Be sure to ask the law enforcement officer how you can obtain a copy of their report, and then get a copy as soon as you can.
Next, you must report the crash to your insurance company within the time specified by your policy. If you determine that the other driver is insured or uninsured, let your insurance company know this.
4. Pressure to Accept an Insurance Settlement
Regardless of whether the other driver’s liability insurance or your own insurance covers your losses, a settlement of your accident will be proposed. You should not accept an offer without giving it a full and considered review. Inevitably, an insurance company will seek to save money by offering less than is appropriate. Also, a fast payment avoids covering expenses that may occur later in your recovery.
Seek the advice of an attorney experienced with Florida car accidents when presented with an insurance settlement for a serious car wreck. Initial legal consultations are free and well worth your time.
When you accept an appropriate insurance payment, do not sign anything without a lawyer’s advice. Once your insurer pays you, they have subrogation rights, which allow them to seek money from the other driver or their insurer to cover their costs. Often, an insurer will seek to have you waive your subrogation rights. This means you would not be able to seek further compensation for your losses. You should not agree to this without proper legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
5. Documenting Your Car Crash and Recovery Expenses
After a car accident, make a file and save all records of your accident and injury. This will include the accident report and other information you gather at the time of the accident, all medical bills and repair bills for your car. Save any information connected to your accident.
In a complex or large insurance claim, the insurance company is likely to request more and more information. They will expect you to demonstrate why they should make a substantial payment to you. When asked, provide copies – not original documents.
Having these documents will help if you and your car accident attorney determine that it is proper to seek compensation beyond insurance payments to assist you and your family.
If you or a family member of yours has been involved in a car accident in Tampa, Holiday, St. Petersburg or anywhere else in Florida, the Disparti Law Group, P.A., wants to help you obtain the insurance settlement that you need and deserve. Contact us today at our toll-free number or through our online form for a free consultation. We are committed to providing quality legal representation and to working hard to help you reach your goals.