Florida has some weird laws with regard to automobile accidents. This post will explain what you can expect if you are involved in an automobile accident.
First, Florida is a “No Fault State”. What does this mean? Does it mean I can’t sue the other party who hit and hurt me? No of course not. Florida’s no-fault statute has almost nothing to do with that. The no-fault statute means that NO MATTER WHO is at fault in an accident, the first $10,000 of medical treatment and lost wages are going to be paid for by each person’s own automobile insurance. You see auto insurance has many parts. One part pays for damaged property and damaged cars. Another part pays for car rental. This part is called Personal Injury Protection and it pays for about 80% of your accident-related medical bills and 60% of any lost wages. People may hate this because if they are not at fault they don’t want to use their own insurance. But this is a quirky part of Florida law and you must. So the first thing you must do is to open a PIP case with your own insurance company. Expect it.
Second, you can expect the other party to justify why they are not at fault. Regardless of the facts, for some reason, after an accident, in many situations, the recollection of the other party will not be right. This happens almost universally in left turn cases, or side to side impact cases, but can even happen in a rear-end collision. The other side may apologize and then tell the police officer privately they think you were speeding and that is what caused the accident. People change their stories. Expect it.
Third, you can expert both your own insurance company and the other insurance company to look for ways to blame you to minimize the amount they have to pay. They do it to both sides. They are not your friend. Never talk to an adjuster without representation. You can expect a friendly adjuster to call you and ask for your statement and they can sound like sunshine and peaches. But once you are done telling the story they will write up a report in a way that minimizes your accident claim. That write-up goes into the computer to set a “reserve” on the case. The Reserve is the amount of money the insurance company sets aside to pay for your case. The adjuster gets bonused for money they save by settling cases below the reserve. If you get the reserve set too low you are setting yourself up for a battle because it makes it super hard to get a settlement about the reserve. If you go forward with an accident case without an attorney you will be manipulated by the insurance adjuster. Expect it.
The best way to avoid all these problems is to hire qualified and respected attorneys to represent you. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis and that means we never get paid unless we get money for you, and the statistics show that qualified counsel increases the value of any injury case by a minimum of 300%. Expect it.