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Car Crash FAQ

1. Who pays for my accident damages – what insurance policies can cover my injury claims for a Florida car crash on Florida roads?

When there is an accident or crash on a Florida highway – or any roadway within the Florida state lines – then Florida insurance law will apply. Depending upon the crash circumstances and who all may be responsible for the wreck, different types of insurance policies may cover part of the money damages that have resulted from the accident.

For example, in a commercial semi big rig truck crash with a passenger car or sedan, then not only the trucking company responsible for the truck driver and the truck itself, but also the company responsible for loading its cargo and the driver’s own policy (and others) may cover part of the injury victim’s damages.

Therefore, it is very important In Florida accident crash claims to have an experienced Florida car accident lawyer to help the injury victim and his or her family in pursuing their damage claims against those legally responsible for the crash. Analysis of the wreck can reveal insurance coverage that the victim may not realize applies – and which the insurance carrier will not voluntarily reveal.

Here are some of the different kinds of Florida insurance coverage that may apply to Florida accidents and crashes:

A. Your Insurance

i. Your Health Insurance Policy – While the health insurance policy that you have through your employer (or which you pay for yourself) is not the first insurance carrier to pay on your case, it can cover expenses resulting from the crash or wreck after you have met your deductible and after the no-fault coverage (see below) has been fully paid out.

ii. Your No Fault Insurance Policy (PIP) – in Florida, residents have been required to have no-fault insurance accident policies. Florida is a no-fault insurance state. If you are lucky or smart, your PIP policy will NOT include a deductible amount, i.e., the amount that you must pay before the PIP no fault insurance policy starts covering anything. PIP coverage must be billed first, before anything else. PIP covers 80% of your medical costs and 60% of your lost wages subject to certain criteria.

Florida 2012 PIP Reforms

As of July 1, 2012, a new Florida law involving big PIP insurance reforms became effective. Due to rampant fraud involving staged accidents, Florida PIP requirements were changed by Florida HB and sent to Governor Rick Scott for his approval by May 5, 2012.

Alan’s Tip: These changes may serve to harm legitimate claims made by Florida injury victims, as Florida law attempts to cull out the fraud claims from the real ones. These reforms burden victims already dealing with the pain and stress of an accident to act fast or lose their PIP coverage, as well as being forced to face down insurance fraud specialists during the course of getting proper insurance coverage for their financial needs.

 To read Governor Scott’s reasons for signing this bill into law, go here to read his news release dated May 4, 2012, the date that he approved the PIP Reform as effective Florida law.

 PIP Reforms in 2012 under HB119 involve big changes, such as:

  • 14 day deadline to get medical care and see a doctor after an accident if you want to have those medical expenses covered by your PIP insurance;
  • Only those health care providers that have been vetted by the Powers That Be will be covered by PIP insurance. You need to find out before you get treatment if your doctor (M.D., D.O., etc.), or dentist, or nurse practitioner is approved. No approval, no insurance coverage;
  • Moreover, these PIP-approved health care providers must find that you have an “emergency medical condition” or their fees aren’t going to be covered by PIP under the 2012 Reforms;
  • Some providers aren’t covered, period. PIP Reforms do not allow PIP insurance coverage for acupuncturists or chiropractors.
  • Increased opportunity for insurance companies to deny your claim, since the PIP Reform laws allow them to put you under oath and then question you about how and why you got medical care or saw a doctor. Fraud specialists will be doing the questioning. NO, YOU ARE NOT GUARANTEED A LAWYER HERE UNDER THE PIP REFORMS. You have a right to be represented here, but you will have to get your own attorney.

The legislation was criticized for having loopholes which will be dealt with by additional legislation, an Executive Order, or other means – presumably before year-end 2012. (The loophole involves a six-month gap in coverage since part of the law becomes effective in the summer of 2012 and another part isn’t effective law until January 1, 2013.)

Read Our Injury and Accident Blog For Updated Information and More Articles About PIP

iii. Medical Payments (MedPay) – in Florida, “MedPay” is another no-fault insurance policy that you can buy to cover 100% of your medical bills. Why do this? MedPay can fill any gap in coverage from your PIP policy and any amount that your health insurance deductible did not cover. With this policy, you can get part of your lost wages covered, too. Good thing, too: if you get a recovery from your accident case, you do not have to take money from that recovery to reimburse the MedPay insurance coverage for any payments that you received from your MedPay policy.

iv. Collision – This may be part of your insurance policy that provides for the company to provide “collision coverage” if your car is damaged by someone other than you -- or if the other driver who was responsible for the accident fails to have enough insurance coverage to fix your car, truck, SUV, minivan, etc.

B. The Other Person’s Insurance

Their Bodily Injury (BI) Accident Insurance – BI insurance is the insurance coverage from the policy paid for by the person or persons responsible for the crash, and it is BI coverage that is the source of coverage in a personal injury lawsuit against them. The insurance carrier for the other person will provide assistance, including an insurance defense lawyer, to the other person as part of the BI insurance policy coverage.

2. What happens if I am in Florida on vacation or on military duty or just visiting or driving through and I am in a car crash? Do I have to have insurance coverage?

Florida law does not exclude visitors, vacationers, snowbirds, college students, foreign travelers, etc. from Florida accident insurance requirements. If you drive a car registered in Florida on Florida roads, then you need to abide by Florida insurance laws. However, the military and some students may not have to buy a Florida insurance policy. As for tourists and visitors, there may be special insurance policies available for you: rental car insurance policies, etc., are available for those enjoying a brief stay in the Sunshine State.

3. How long does it take to get the Other Driver who caused the wreck to pay for your accident injury damages claim?

It depends. Each case is unique, and Alan has settled cases very fast – within a couple of days or a week of the client hiring him to represent their interests – to not so fast, where the insurance defense lawyers fight hard over paying money and Alan may even have to take the case to trial in order to force justice to prevail.

Why do some cases take so long and others don’t take much time? Some claims have minor injuries and the medical treatment is straightforward. Other times, there are complicated serious injuries (like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries) and the health care is lengthy and very complex. Sadly, sometimes a victim has died from their injuries and this may make the negotiations even more difficult with the other side.

It’s important to negotiate from a position of strength and experience. Alan Sackrin helps his clients deal with the daily realities of a serious car crash and accident crises both financially and emotionally. Part of how Alan helps his clients is to make sure that they don’t rush into a settlement from stress or pressure and deny themselves their rightful, just damage award just because of time.

4. What is my car crash case worth? What can I expect to get in money damages from my accident / wreck?

There’s just no “one size fits all” answer to this question, as much as Alan would like to be able to help people feel some relief from the stress and pressure of a car crash or auto accident. Each case is its own individual situation and there are many, many factors to consider.

Someone with experience like Alan Sackrin will review the location of the accident for issues like roadway hazards and possible responsible parties for any road factors, as well as things like the types of vehicles involved. Some cases may have trucking industry defendants who are legally at fault, having failed to keep their big rigs in condition or having allowed their truck drivers to exceed their “HOS” (hours of service) limitations. There may be situations where the vehicle is defective; for example, many 16 passenger vans on the roads these days are known to be prone to rollovers.

After liability, damage factors must also be considered. Who was injured, how were they injured, and what is needed in the way of treatment and therapy and equipment from which health care providers must all be analyzed. If anyone has died, unfortunately, this must be considered under Florida Wrongful Death Statutes which have been passed for these types of tragedies.

Bottom line, Alan cannot give a general answer to that question. He needs to consider the potential liability as well as the scope of the damages involved in each case.

5. How long do I have to file my lawsuit or claim for my accident damages and car crash injuries?

Florida law is very clear here: there is a deadline set by the Florida legislature that you must meet to file your claim and your injury lawsuit, or you will be too late. It’s called “the statute of limitations” for your claim.

If you miss the deadline, then the other side can use this law to shield themselves 100% from having to pay any money damages no matter how responsible they are for what has happened to you.

How long do you have? FOUR YEARS.

Four years from what? That can be a big legal argument: things like the age of the plaintiff can extend the deadline as well as when the bodily injury was discovered can give the plaintiff more time to pursue justice. Easy answer: don’t wait, see a lawyer and get moving on your claim sooner rather than later.

6. What is and how are pain and suffering and lost wages calculated?

Since these are 2 very popular questions which require some explanation, we wrote 2 in depth articles on these topics - See Lost Wages and Pain and Suffering under Florida law.

7. How much does it cost to hire a Florida injury lawyer like Alan Sackrin for my accident case?

Nothing unless there is a recovery.

For any personal injury client who hires Alan Sackrin to represent them in their injury claims, from a car crash to an accident involving an motorcycle, bicycle, Jet Ski, pickup truck, big rig, semi-truck, van, bus, SUV, minivan, or sedan on any Florida roadway, Alan Sackrin asks for absolutely no money in the form of retainer, advance, or payment until there is a recovery in the form of settlement or trial.

 

Want to Know More?

Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented clients throughout Florida in recovering monetary damages for car accident injuries. Alan is a Board Certified Civil Trial Expert that strives to maximize the amount of compensation his clients' receive for their claim.  Alan brings a high-level of skill and knowledge to his client's car accident cases and he offers a free initial consultation.

 

See: Sample Case Verdicts and Settlements

 

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