FAQ's for a Florida Car Accident
Should police be notified after an accident occurs? While there is no law that says you MUST contact authorities after an accident when no one is injured, it is a good idea to notify police and file a report if there is damage to either vehicle. If someone is injured you should always notify local law enforcement.
If I receive a ticket does that mean the accident is my fault? In most cases the person who is ticketed for the accident is at fault, but not always. A ticket cannot be used as evidence in the courtroom to show fault to either party. Most cases involve a shared level of fault on both parties. For insurance purposes, most initial decisions on who should pay for the damages go to the person ticketed. This is simply done because the insurance company was not there to witness the accident and will initially rely on the officer or deputies decision.
How do my medical bills get paid? This all depends on what kind of insurance you have and who was at fault. Anyone who owns a car is obligated to have Personal Injury Protection. This protection covers payments no matter who was at fault which is why it is also dubbed "no-fault: coverage." Your PIP coverage can cover 80 percent of medical bills up to the PIP limit (AT LEAST $10,000). If the accident was your fault, excess bills could come out of your checkbook. If the fault is on the other person you may have a claim against them for unpaid medical bills.
What can I expect my personal injury protection to cover? Personal Injury Protection is usually capped at $10,000. This covers 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages until the coverage limit is depleted. Travel expenses to and from the doctor can sometimes be covered as well as any other expenses related to the accident.
Who covers the cost of damages to my car? If the accident was your fault then your insurance is your only option for payment. If you have no collision coverage and the accident was your fault, no one pays for your damages. If the other driver is responsible you can use their insurance. If you have collision coverage, you can use your own or choose to use the other person's insurance.
What constitutes a bodily injury claim? A bodily injury claim is a claim for pain and suffering following an accident. If an accident is determined to be your fault, then you have no claim. If the other party is completely or mostly to blame you can bring a claim against them when you have suffered a permanent injury. Permanent injuries can be anything from fractures, bad scars, any injury that requires surgery and even some soft tissue injuries such as back and neck herniated disks, bulges, and shoulder and leg sprains, provided a qualified doctor can testify as to the percentage of permanency.
What is the value of my bodily injury claim? Fault, damage and available coverage factor into the worth of your bodily claim. Even if you have suffered major injuries, a bodily injury claim has a value of zero if there is no fault. For limited coverage, value can be weakened to the available coverage despite drastic injuries. The greater the injury and the clearer the fault make the best value for your case.
What if I was working when the accident took place? If your employer provides workers compensation coverage, you could have a worker's compensation claim supplementing the car accident claim. However, you are not required to make a Workers Compensation claim - it is optional under Florida law.
What is a UM claim? An underinsured/uninsured motorist claim is equivalent to a bodily injury claim, but it is brought against your own insurance company. This is done when the tortfeasor (person at fault) does not carry any applicable insurance, or more commonly does not have enough to cover your injuries.
Do I have to report a minor accident to my insurance provider? While there is no law in Florida that says you must report accidents to your insurance company, all automobile insurance policies require that you report an accident immediately. If the accident does not get reported in a timely fashion you violate the terms of your insurance policy and run the risk of voiding your insurance for that accident. In other words, YES, you have a contractual obligation.
Does it really matter what attorney I hire in terms of the settlement or verdict amount? If you have a very minor injury your claim could have a low value no matter what type of lawyer you hire. If you are suffering from major injuries, then the quality of your lawyer can play an extensive role in the amount of money you recover. An ineffective lawyer is someone usually who has little or no experience with injury claims. When you this kind of lawyer your claim could be argued down to nothing.
In contrast, hiring an experienced attorney, someone with both the knowledge of the law and the players involved is a great asset. When your lawyer has a reputation amongst the insurance lawyers, adjusters, even the adjusters management - it can mean all the difference in your file.
**Remember that these are just general questions to help guide you in the right direction with what steps to take after an accident. Real questions with definite answers depend on the facts of each case. Qualified attorneys with years of experience can guide you best with where to go with your claim. If you want real answers to your questions after an automobile accident involving death or serious injury, contact the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or call 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).