Top 10 Questions Regarding Automobile Accidents and Property Damage
1. Who will pay for your car to be fixed? If the other side was 100% at fault and if they have the right kind of insurance coverage, then they should pay to fix your car. In Florida, if the other driver is driving legally (with even the minimum insurance) then they should have $10,000 in Property Damage Liability Coverage and this will help pay for your car. If you have difficulty with the other person’s insurance company and you have collision coverage on your vehicle then call your own insurance company and ask them to fix your car.
2. Do you have to give the insurance company a taped statement? If it is your insurance company, then the answer is probably yes, but you have every right to have your attorney present. If it is the other driver’s insurance company, then the answer is no. You are under no obligation to give the other driver’s insurance company a taped statement.
3. Should you speak with an attorney before you give a taped statement? Absolutely! Talking with an attorney in person, and having that attorney present when you give a taped statement is the smartest thing you can do.
4. What about my lost wages? In Florida, your PIP coverage (Personal Injury Protection) will pay 60% of your lost wages that are a result of your automobile accident. As with most insurance however, this is not automatic. Your employer has to complete a wage history form showing your wages. Your doctor has to complete a form that certifies you have missed work due to the crash. Please note PIP coverage expired on 10/1/2007 so this may or may not be available when you are reading this.
5. What if the other driver was at-fault and my medical bills exceed my own PIP (no-fault) benefits? If the other driver had Bodily Injury Liability Coverage then that can help with your medical bills. Under Florida Law, the other driver’s insurance company has to disclose this information to you. Also, regardless of the kind of coverage the other driver has, if you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, commonly referred to as UM/UIM then you are protected.
6. How do I know if I have a personal injury case? Each case is different, but there are a few questions you can ask yourself. Is it clear that the other side was at fault or mostly at fault for the crash? Do you notice a significant difference in the way you feel versus how you felt before the crash? Do you have pain and discomfort on a regular basis that you did not have before? Do you have medical bills and/or lost wages that exceed $5000? Have you already had a surgery or is there a strong possibility that you will need surgery? The more times you have answered yes to these questions, the more likely you are to have a Personal Injury Case.
7. How long do personal injury cases take? Generally speaking, personal injury cases last anywhere from six to eighteen months. Most people need to see their doctor and receive treatment for some period of time before the doctor can say with any degree of certainty how the injury has affected them already and how it will affect them in the near future. The attorney typically cannot work on resolving the case with the at-fault party until the treatment is completed and a clear picture of the client’s injuries are present.
8. If it takes so long, why do I need an attorney now? Because the insurance companies have attorneys and claim’s adjusters working for them from the day you were injured. Unfortunately, the insurance company wants to see you make as many mistakes as possible because this decreases the value of your claim. If you give a taped statement without knowing what the insurance adjuster is really trying to do you may be unaware that your words can decrease the value of your case.
9. How much is my case worth? This question depends on several factors. First, what is your injury? (We generally won’t know this until you are done with treatment.) How much are your medical bills? How much are your lost wages? How has the accident affected your daily life, your job, your family? How clear is the liability? Does the other driver have adequate insurance coverage? Do you have adequate insurance coverage?
10. Why is insurance so important in a case? Because I want you to understand how much is really at stake. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Their goal is to settle your case with you for the least amount possible. They train their adjusters to do what they can to minimize your case value because it is in their business interest. I’ll do what I can to protect you because I work for you and your best interest.