If you have been injured in an accident, then you can expect to be contacted by the defendant’s insurance adjusters in short order. While most people are aware that dealing with insurers is an important part of personal injury law, there are several specifics about the system which must be understood. By understanding these specifics, you can have a better understanding as to how your case will proceed if you have been injured.
This article will focus on three key points in regard to the role of insurance companies. These points include:
- An explanation of Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law
- What an injury victim can expect from insurance following an accident
- How your attorney will deal with insurance on your behalf
We will discuss each of these topics in turn. If you are in need of assistance, then it is strongly suggested that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Florida is a “No Fault” Insurance State In Regard to Auto Insurance
All vehicles registered in the state of Florida are required to be covered by a personal injury protection (PIP) policy. After a car accident, the victim will be required to file a claim against their own policy before making a claim against the defendant’s insurance. If a victim’s damages are in excess of the PIP policy they may then make a claim against the defendant’s coverage for the remainder. The minimum required amount of PIP coverage in Florida is $10,000. It is important to note that PIP insurance will only cover claims for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. It does not cover damages for pain and suffering.
You only have a limited amount of time in which you can bring a claim against your PIP coverage following a car accident. If you miss this window, then you may have difficulty moving forward with your situation.
Any car accident case which involves a serious injury is likely to be in excess of a victim’s PIP coverage. The medical expenses in cases involving traumatic brain injury, spinal damage, broken bones, or other such injuries will typically be in excess of PIP coverage.
PIP coverage is only an issue in car accident cases. In matters such as a slip and fall, a product liability case, or other matters not involving a car wreck, you will be able to bring an action directly against the defendant’s insurance without involving your own carrier.
What To Expect From Insurance Following An Accident
Injury victims can typically expect to be contacted by a defendant’s insurance carrier almost immediately following an accident. The insurance company’s claims adjuster will attempt to meet with you as soon as possible. They will also typically claim that you should not contact an attorney and that your interests are best served in dealing with them directly. As part of this claim, they will likely state that you would not receive a higher settlement if you retain an attorney. It is crucial to remember, however, that these adjusters are employees of the insurance company and that their job is to make sure that you settle for the lowest amount possible. When you retain an attorney, you are gaining a representative who is looking out for your interests as opposed to those of an insurance company.
It is simply not accurate when insurance adjusters claim that you will receive no greater of a settlement when you retain counsel. In fact, it is common for insurance companies to attempt to deny liability altogether. When you have representation, then they are aware that a lawsuit may be filed if they wrongly deny coverage. Our experience is that having counsel increases the likelihood of a greater settlement.
Your Attorney Will Deal With The Insurance Carriers and Attempt to Reach a Settlement
Once you retain an attorney, then counsel will notify the insurance carrier of the representation. The carrier will then deal with your lawyer directly. Once your long-term chances of recovery are reasonably known, then your lawyer will send a demand letter to the carrier. This letter will state the amount of money that you are requesting for a settlement, your basis for requesting that amount, and documentation that supports the request. Your attorney will then engage in back-and-forth negotiations with the insurance carrier. If a settlement can be reached, then the case will be resolved. If a settlement cannot be reached then a lawsuit will be filed before the relevant statute of limitations expires.
The insurance adjuster will continue to be involved in your case. Your attorney will continue to engage in settlement negotiations while the matter proceeds to litigation. While they will be dealing with defense counsel at that point, the insurance adjuster will still have the final say over any settlement. In other words, your attorney will negotiate through defense counsel, and they, in turn, will seek approval for a settlement through the insurance adjuster. Very few cases actually go to trial. This means that if your case does not settle before a complaint is filed, then it is likely to settle before trial.
While it is understandable that you wish to resolve your case and move on with your life, it is important that you take the advice of your attorney as to when you should settle. Remember that your attorney’s role is to protect your best interests. If they advise you to wait for a better offer, then they are basing this off of experience and weighing the increased time it will take into the calculus.
Contact A Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured by the negligence of another, then it is important that you do not attempt to deal with the defendant’s insurance yourself. Doing so can result in you receiving less than the full amount which you are entitled to.