How Do I File an Auto Accident Claim?
March 14, 2018
Accident laws in Florida are tricky and the claims process can be a bit confusing. Since Florida is a "no-fault" state, you can only pursue a personal injury claim against an "at-fault" driver or entity when your injuries exceed a certain medical threshold. Due to the state's requirement for drivers to have a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy, each person's own car insurance will pay for injuries and damages resulting from an accident, no matter who was at fault.
Damages that exceed the limits of PIP policy
If your injuries are deemed serious and medical costs exceed the limits of PIP coverage, Florida statutes do allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit, which is a civil action. You claim may request compensation for damages that can include:
- Past, current, and future (estimated) medical expenses
- Lost wages from not being able to work
- Lost time going to and from medical appointments
- Any permanent disfigurement or disability
- Emotional distress, anxiety or depression
- Loss of Consortium (interference with family relationships)
- The cost of hiring someone to do your chores
- Other costs resulting from your injuries
- Property damages related to the auto accident
If you have incurred significant and/or permanent injuries, it would be prudent to consult a personal injury attorney that can help you navigate the legal process. Once the at-fault's insurance carrier is notified of your claim, a case number and claims adjuster are assigned.
The insurance adjuster must verify that the accident was caused by the insured party and that the insured was negligent. Moreover, the adjuster needs medical proof that the severity of your injuries qualify for a settlement. It is important for you to understand that an insurance adjuster is well trained, good at what they do and work for the at-fault's insurance carrier. So, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of legal counsel prior to talking to anyone who works for an insurance company.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement for Damages
Your attorney will issue a demand letter to the insurance company to begin negotiating a settlement. If you negotiate a fair settlement, your attorney will advise you to accept the offer. If a settlement cannot be reached or your losses exceed the limits of the applicable insurance policy, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit. In Florida, most personal injury cases are ordered to mediation by the judge presiding over the lawsuit prior to a case actually going to trial. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the case will be heard and decided by a jury.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an auto accident, contact a personal injury attorney at Schackow & Mercadante to discuss the details of your claim. Remember, it is important to act in a timely manner to prevent valuable evidence from being lost or destroyed.