Different Car Accident Insurance Scenarios in Florida
Every driver is required by law to carry car insurance in the State of Florida, but rarely do they ever think about having to use it. Filing an insurance claim can be a long and complicated process, particularly if you have sustained serious injury or damage to your vehicle as a result of the accident. Here are some different insurance scenarios that can arise depending on the type of accident.
No injuries, no extensive damages. The other driver is safe, you are safe and there is minor damage to one or both of the vehicles. Settling this matter with your insurance company, should not take long, if you have collision coverage in Florida. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle after an accident and is handled through your insurance company. If your deductible is less than the total damage, collision insurance is your best option.
If you do not have collision insurance, you will have to file a claim through the other driver’s property damage liability (PD) insurance. This process will take more time. Make sure you consult your own insurance company and an experienced auto accident attorney before accepting an offer. Oftentimes if the damage is less than $500, you do not have to worry about your rates going up. Most insurance companies do not qualify accidents as anything that costs less than $500 to fix.
The other driver is injured. If the other driver does not have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, your Bodily Injury liability insurance will pay for their medical costs. You can only hope their medical expenses do not exceed your coverage limits. How much you have to pay will depend on the state you got into the accident as states have different rules for defining fault. You need to be 100% at-fault to be forced to pay anything while driving in a pure contributory state like North Carolina. If you are driving in West Virginia, the other driver would have to prove you were at least 50% at-fault. In Mississippi, you would pay in direct proportion to your percentage of fault. If you are driving in Florida (a Pure Comparative Negligence state) and got into a $1,000 collision in which it was deemed you were 75% at fault, you could file a claim for up to 25%, or $250, of the settlement from the other driver’s insurance. This means, whatever the amount of your negligence, your recovery will be limited by that amount. An obvious downside of this is determining the exact percentage a person is at fault. This is why police reports, a careful assessment of a crash and consulting with an experienced auto accident attorney are absolutely necessary- BEFORE accepting a settlement offer from your insurance company.
You Are Injured. Personal injury protection (PIP) is one of the easiest ways to cover your own medical costs and is mandatory in no-fault states like Florida. It is usually one of the fastest and easiest claims to process because it goes through your own insurance. However, the $10,000 in PIP coverage can be exhausted quickly, particularly if an accident victim is transported from the scene of the accident and receives care in the ER. If this is the case, a claim can be filed against the at-fault driver for any medical bills not paid by your PIP coverage, along with any future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. In states that do not require mandatory PIP, you have the option to buy MedPay insurance, which pretty much does the same thing. Both types of coverage can be completely worth the extra money if you can afford it. You will need to go through the other driver’s bodily injury insurance if you do not have either coverage. This process can take longer and comes with more obstacles.
You are injured and/or your car is damaged, and the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. If the other driver is uninsured, or they do not have enough insurance to cover your damages, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit and take them to court. An experienced Miami auto accident attorney can guide you through the process. Drivers have the option to purchase under and/or uninsured motorist (UM) insurance coverage. This type of coverage can protect you against uninsured drivers and is pretty cost-effective compared to other types of coverage. If you are not at-fault, your premiums will not increase by filing an uninsured motorist claim.
Vicarious Liability in Car Accident Cases. In most cases, there is no Liability of Co-signers for an auto accident that occurs when they are not behind the wheel. However, there are some circumstances where Florida drivers should tread lightly when co-signing on an automobile loan. In cases where the Florida driver is simply a co-signer and never obtains the vehicle’s title, the driver will not likely face any lawsuits. However, in situations where the driver was a co-owner of the vehicle and currently has their name on the title, the driver can be held liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In Florida, whenever someone co-signs on a loan obligation, he or she may be considered “vicariously liable” for damages resulting from the accident when the other person on the loan causes an accident. This doctrine has led to situations where co-owners of vehicles were sued on charges such as wrongful death and serious injury, even though they were not involved in the accident.
Car Accidents Involving Out-of-State Drivers. South Florida has a high volume of tourists year-round. Not surprisingly, there are many car accidents involving out-of-state drivers. It is not uncommon for a tourist who is lost or confused to cause a car accident. It can be confusing for a Florida driver who is involved in one of these accidents to understand the legal steps to take, if an accident occurs with an out-of-state driver.
If you have been involved in a car accident with an out-of-state driver and you are pursuing a lawsuit to obtain damages you suffered in the accident, you will likely have many questions for an attorney. Will the lawsuit be filed in Florida or the state where the at-fault driver’s license was issued? What if the other driver returns to their home state before I file the suit? What if the other driver’s insurance is from another state? What if the required coverage is different than coverage in Florida? What if I never see the other driver again?
Under Florida Statutes, Section 48.193, a person who is or is not a resident of Florida who commits a tortious act or causes injury to persons or property within the state subjects himself or herself to the personal jurisdiction of the State of Florida. Even if the person who caused the accident returns to his or her home state outside of Florida, that person can still be served with the legal proceedings anywhere, not just in the state where the lawsuit was filed. It may be tricky to find the individual in a different state, and the assistance of attorney may be needed to ensure that service on that out-of-state driver is successful.
When it comes to car insurance claims following an accident, Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. What this means is the person who is injured in a car accident will need to file a claim under his or her own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to be compensated for medical bills and other financial losses, no matter who caused the accident. If the injury meets certain requirements, the injured individual can bring a claim against the at-fault driver, however. Florida’s law identifies four types of injuries where a person can sue for intangible injuries, such as pain and suffering or loss of earning capacity. These injuries include permanent injuries; significant, permanent scars or disfigurement; significant, permanent loss of a bodily function; or death. If the individual’s injuries fall into one of these categories, however, it is recommended that an attorney be consulted regarding a potential lawsuit. Florida auto accident victims have only 14 days to seek initial medical attention to receive insurance benefits after an accident, so it is important a doctor sees you as soon as possible following the accident.
Our Miami car accident attorneys focus on helping those who have been catastrophically injured in motor vehicle crashes (involving cars, motorcycles, scooters, trucks, and buses) throughout the State of Florida. We also provide legal representation to pedestrians and cyclists injured by careless drivers. We assist our clients in receiving the best possible medical attention, occupational therapy, and vocational therapy. Our Miami car accident injury law firm helps our clients make recovery as fully as possible and get back to their lives. Remember, the few minutes after a car crash can literally make the difference between winning or losing your case, even when the accident is not your fault. We fight hard to obtain optimal compensation for medical expenses and lost income.
FREE CONSULTATION WITH A MIAMI CAR ACCIDENT PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, it is very important to consult with an experienced Miami auto accident attorney immediately. Florida auto accident victims have only 14 days to seek initial medical attention to receive insurance benefits after an accident, so it is important a doctor sees you as soon as possible following the accident. Spencer Aronfeld is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer, and he and the lawyers at Aronfeld Trial Lawyers understand Florida’s complex personal injury laws and since 1991 we have fought hard to protect the legal rights of the injured and their families- and hold auto insurers like State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, GEICO and others accountable for the pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages suffered by our clients. Contact us today and speak with an experienced Miami auto accident attorney toll free 1-866-597-4529, local 305-441-0440, or by email. We offer a free initial consultation at your home, office, hotel or hospital. Call us today, we are ready to help.
Different Car Accident Insurance Scenarios in Florida
Aronfeld Trial Lawyers is a firm of high-profile, nationally recognized legal advocates who work for you, our client, never big business. We represent cases resulting in serious injuries in the areas of Cruise Ship Injuries, Wrongful Death, Automobile Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Slip and Fall Incidents, Product Liability, Civil Rights Claims, Workplace Injuries, Maritime Law, Sexual Assault, Medical and Dental Malpractice, and others.