Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Claims in Florida
Florida is one of about a dozen states that have no-fault insurance, at least in part. This does not mean that no one causes a car accident or injures another driver or passenger through negligence, but it does mean that seeking compensation for injuries is different than at-fault states.
What no-fault in Florida generally means is that you are required to insure yourself against injuries sustained in an auto accident, regardless of whose fault it is. This insurance requirement is called personal injury protection (PIP), whose minimum by law is genrally $10,000. It's more complicated than that but that's a big picture.
Under PIP, insurers generally cover 80 percent of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages up to the limits of the coverage. At $10,000, your PIP will not cover the average medical bills, which stands at $15,785, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Florida’s auto insurance laws are subject to widespread misunderstanding and even confusion. To help you better understand Florida's insurance rules, I have prepared the following list of common misconceptions.
If you have been injured in a vehicular accident in Altamonte Springs, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, or Volusia, Florida, contact me at the Law Office of Mark A. Cornelius P.A. today. I have 25-plus years of experience in pressing injury claims against insurance companies seeking to lowball their settlements. I can also help you file any personal injury lawsuits if matters warrant it.
Common Misconceptions about Florida Insurance Coverage
Since Florida is a No-Fault State, I Cannot Seek Compensation From the Other Driver
As discussed above, if you’re injured in an auto accident, you must first turn to your PIP coverage. Property damage is different, and in that case, the other driver’s insurance is responsible. However, Florida law provides an avenue for seeking compensation for injuries from the other driver in certain circumstances.
If your injuries are serious enough and medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work were not fully paid by PIP (and they won't be because PIP only pays a percentage), you can often seek recovery from the other driver’s insurer. To claim pain and suffering you must have suffered significant and permanent loss of bodily function, permanent injury, or significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement.
If My Injuries are Minor, I Don’t Need to Report the Accident to the Police
Under Florida law, any vehicular accident resulting in injury must be reported to the police. The police should come to the scene, investigate and file a report. This is a step that favors you as the injured person, as you can obtain a copy of the police report to help press your compensation claim, especially if it involves going after the other driver’s insurance.
I was Partially At-Fault for the Accident, so I Can’t File a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit
Florida uses what is called the pure comparative negligence standard. This means that you can almost always seek financial recovery amounting to the other driver’s percentage of fault.
Thus, even if you are deemed 75 percent at fault, you can still recover 25 percent of your damages from the other driver. This is in contrast to the modified comparative negligence standard used in many other states, which bars recovery once your percentage of fault tops 50%.
I Don’t Need an Attorney to File a Personal Injury Claim
It is true enough that you can personally file a PIP claim with your insurer after being injured in an accident, but what happens after that is better accomplished with the help of a personal injury/car accident attorney.
The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to you, who will use a laundry list of tactics and questions to pin all or part of the fault on you to lowball your settlement. A knowledgeable attorney is wise to these tactics and can negotiate firmly for the best possible settlement. This is especially important if you’re seeking damages from the other driver’s insurer.
Getting the Experienced Legal Help You Need
Insurers are for-profit entities, and they are notorious for finding every means at their disposal to low ball – or outright deny – your claim. Dealing with an insurance adjuster on your own can lead to many potential pitfalls. You may say something that the insurance company can use to doubt the extent of your injuries and reduce your claim amount. In short, it is better to let an experienced personal injury attorney deal with the insurance companies.
For more than 25 years, I have helped countless others like you fight for a just settlement in personal injury cases. I stand ready to help you too. Call me immediately at the Law Office of Mark A. Cornelius P.A. if you have been injured in a car accident in Altamonte Springs or nearby in Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Volusia, and Polk or Lake County.