Dear North Miami Car Accident Lawyer Spencer Aronfeld:
I got into a car accident the other day. It was pretty serious and I was taken to the hospital. I was driving; my sister was in the passenger seat. My son was in the back seat with my niece.As a result of this accident, I had back survey and my sister had her spleen removed.
We are not the suing kind of people. The lady who hit us has Allstate, and when I got home, waiting for me was a check for $50,000.00 and some papers I was asked to sign.
I called the number on the letter and the Allstate lady told me that $50,000.00 was the most they could pay and I should just keep the money and sign the paper.
I asked her if I needed a lawyer and she told me “no.”
Why do I need a lawyer if she already sent me the check?
Hurting Mom in Miami
Dear Hurting Mom:
Thanks for your email. Do you need a lawyer? Yes. Because insurance companies have two desires. One is to pay you as little as possible and the other is to keep you away from an experienced and skilled Florida car crash lawyer.
Insurance company adjusters are not lawyers and they are not your lawyers. They get paid by the insurance company to not pay you. That is why they are called adjusters. In your case, you may be entitled to far more money than is being offered.
I reviewed the Florida Traffic Crash Report for your accident, and it appears that the driver that hit you is not the owner of the car she was driving. In other words, this might mean that there is an additional policy out there. In fact, there may even be additional insurance policies on top of the one being “tendered” to you such as an excess or umbrella policy.
I noticed that the driver of the car that hit you, is elderly. The elderly in my experience are more likely to have and protect their assets with insurance coverage. Due to the significance of your injuries, I recommend that an asset search be performed that could tell you if they have additional property, cars or real estate.
Secondly, you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Most Florida insurance companies require that the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage be put on notice of your claim and allow you accept the policy of the at-fault driver. This is called waiving subrogation. If you do not do this, you may have ruined your chances of obtaining more coverage. The complex rules for uninsured/under insured motorist claims can be found in Florida Statutes §627.727.
Your children may have claims for medical bills and for injuries. They should be examined and cleared by experienced pediatricians before you end up inadvertently releasing any claims they may have.
The release you showed me does not exclude claims you may have against any of the doctors who treated you for the accident. Since you had complex orthopedic surgery, a medical error may not be readily apparent. If you were to sign the release that you showed me, you may give up any claims you might have against these doctors in the future.
An investigation should also be made regarding whether the lady who hit you was driving in the course and scope of her employment. Despite being elderly, she may still be working and a commercial policy might provide you with more coverage.
Lastly, since you were in the hospital for so long, both the hospital and your health insurance may have claims attached to your settlement. For your sister, Medicaid will have a claim. These claims are called liens and require repayment before you or any lawyer can get paid from the case.