Car Accident FAQs
You should report the accident immediately to the police if you have not already done so. Any and all witnesses to the accident need to be identified by name, address and telephone number. Take photographs or videos of the scene and vehicles from as many angles as possible. Photographs showing the damage to your vehicle can be invaluable in assisting us in maximizing your recovery. If you require medical treatment, be clear and accurate in what you say about how the accident happened. Also, be sure to give your doctor a complete, accurate and truthful description of how the accident happened, what problems you are having as a result of the accident, and make sure to tell your doctor about all prior similar injuries you may have had.
You have a duty in Florida to be cooperative with your own insurance company. You have no such duty to cooperate or give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. If you have suffered lacerations, burns or bruising, take photographs of your injuries, reflecting the injury and any bandages or braces that may have been placed. Such photographs will become invaluable in establishing your injuries after your injuries have healed. Gather all automobile insurance policies in your household for evaluation by an experienced Attorney. They will determine the full extent of insurance available to you.
Sometimes in Florida the at-fault party will only have the bare minimum florida no fault or pip insurance and property damage coverage, but you won’t know that at the time. The only time that you’re going to know that person is totally uninsured is if the officer marks that that the person was given a ticket because they didn’t show proof of insurance.
If that happens my clients come and say well who’s going to fix my car is going to fix the damage to my car who’s going to pay my medical bills at a very minimum your own no-fault pip. Your own no-fault pip is a ten-thousand-dollar policy of insurance and it pays for eighty percent of your medical bills and sixty percent of your lost wages and actually a hundred percent of your replacement household services so if you break your leg in an accident and you can’t mow your yard for a month or two the doctor writes a report or a letter and your policy would pay for you to have that replacement service.
The statute of limitations in Florida for a typical car crash caused by negligence of a driver is 4 years from the date of the accident. This means that your lawsuit against the other driver or vehicle owner must be filed in the correct court within 4 years of the accident, or else your case may be forever barred. This is a difficult area of the law, so please consult with an accident Attorney regarding the specific facts of your case.
This is because Florida is a “no fault” insurance state. According to Florida law, even when you are in a car accident that someone else caused, you are required by law to submit your own medical expenses to your own automobile insurance company under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. The individual who caused the accident and their insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills. They are responsible for any lost wages that exceed your PIP policy. And they are responsible for pain and suffering if you have sustained a permanent injury.
MMI means Maximum Medical Improvement. Simply stated, it is a term used by your treating doctors to describe that your injuries and physical condition has improved as much as they ever will. Or, in other words, you are as healthy and healed as possible for your condition.
The driver who caused the car accident doesn’t have Bodily Injury (BI) liability insurance coverage. Can I still sue them?
There is no requirement in Florida that a registered owner of an automobile carry bodily injury liability coverage. Your chances of recovering a substantial settlement against an uninsured driver are slim, unless that person has substantial assets to pay any judgment rendered against him. Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance coverage, if you carry it on your own automobile, will be available to you in the event that you sustain a serious injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is sometimes referred to as “no-fault” insurance. PIP insurance covers you and relatives residing in your household for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. This is regardless of who is at fault. This coverage pays 80% of reasonable and necessary medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and 100% of household services, up to a limit of $10,000. Florida law requires every owner of a motor vehicle registered in Florida to carry PIP to protect themselves in the event of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. For injuries sustained in an automobile accident, PIP coverage is primary over any health insurance.
An adjuster from an insurance company wants to settle with me and says “I don’t need a car accident attorney.” What should I do?
No matter how sympathetic they seem, insurance company adjusters have one goal when they offer to settle your case. It is their job to settle your car accident case with paying you the least amount of money possible. The job of insurance companies is to take your premiums/money in – not to pay money out. Calling or sending an e-mail to our office is free. You are under no obligation to use our legal services. We want you to be educated so you can make the best decision for yourself.
In personal injury cases in Florida, in addition damages available to the injured person, the law allows your spouse a claim, too. This is a claim for loss of consortium. A legal marriage is required, common law relationships are not sufficient. A spouse has a cause of action for loss of consortium when the other spouse suffers personal injury caused by the negligence of another. Consortium generally refers to the services, comfort, society and attentions of a spouse. This includes more than just the marital sexual relationship, but also the companionship of a husband and wife. The burden of proof is on the claiming spouse and may be claimed for both past and future losses.
Examples may include: a spouse taking on more housework or childcare responsibilities, which the injured spouse can no longer perform; a spouse taking time off from work to stay home and care for the physical needs of the injured spouse; physical activities that the couple used to enjoy but can no longer enjoy because of the injuries, such as dancing, roller skating, traveling, going to movies in a theater; and, a negative impact of the frequency or duration of intimacy. The value of a loss of consortium claim is determined as a matter of fact by the jury.
Historically, Florida juries do not make large awards for loss of consortium claims. One theory is jurors believe that the marriage vow of “for better or for worse, through sickness and in health”. And taking care of an injured spouse is just part of being married. However, by fully developing and presenting trial evidence of the thriving marital relationship prior to the injury (through deposition testimony, before and after witnesses, photographs and videos, and expert testimony, etc.) and then revealing evidence of a substantial change for the worse after the accident, an award of damages for loss of consortium may be substantial.
For even more Car Accident FAQs visit our blog and for other FAQs, visit our practice area pages! Injured in car or personal injury accident? Call Attorney Mike Hancock at 813-915-1110.