Florida is one of several states that rely on no-fault auto insurance laws to reduce the amount of litigation the courts must handle following relatively minor traffic accidents. These laws limit who can file a claim based on fault and offer drivers the opportunity to collect compensation for their injuries and lost wages from their own insurance company.
At the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine, our attorneys can help you understand your legal rights and options for compensation after an accident. Call 800-747-3733 today for a complimentary consultation with a car accident lawyer in Fort Myers.
How Does Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance Law Help Me After a Crash?
As a part of Florida’s no-fault auto insurance scheme, all motorists must carry a personal injury protection (PIP) policy that pays out to cover injuries and lost wages after a crash. Because there is no need to establish fault or conduct a large-scale investigation, these policies typically pay out quickly and work well after a fender bender or other accident with only minor injuries.
However, if you only carry the minimum PIP coverage required, you could face a situation where your insurance policy will not cover all your medical care and related losses. The minimum required coverage is only $10,000. This may be enough to cover a trip to the emergency department to set a broken arm, but any injuries beyond that could leave you paying out of pocket or looking for other options for compensation.
This is the downside to no-fault car accident laws. In exchange for PIP coverage, you give up the right to hold the at-fault driver responsible for your injuries unless you meet a certain threshold for serious injuries. We can help you understand what this means and determine if you qualify to pursue action against the motorist who caused your crash.
When Can I File a Claim Against the Driver Who Caused My Accident?
In general, you will need to suffer lasting, debilitating injuries to a body part before Florida law allows you to step outside of the no-fault system and file a fault-based claim. The cost of stabilizing and treating these injuries and undergoing rehabilitation and therapy to recover as many skills and abilities as possible can exceed the limits of your PIP policy in days or even hours.
To meet the serious injury threshold, you need to suffer:
- A significant impairment to an important body part or body system;
- Disfigurement of the face, neck, arms, or other prominent areas of the body;
- Permanent injuries; or
- Injuries that will likely cause your death.
If you believe you may meet any of these criteria, we can help you determine if you can collect compensation above and beyond your PIP limits by filing a third-party liability claim based on the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. This may allow you to recover money to pay for your current bills and losses as well as your future or ongoing care needs.
What Can I Expect During the Auto Insurance Claims Process?
Once we determine you qualify to file a liability claim against the at-fault driver, we launch an investigation into your accident. During this period, we collect evidence and build a strong case to support your claim. We may use a wide variety of resources to prove your right to compensation. This could include calling in expert witnesses to help us understand your injuries and prognosis or enlisting the help of accident reconstruction specialists.
Once we understand how your accident occurred and we can prove the other driver was guilty of negligence—or acted in a careless or reckless manner—and caused the crash, we can file your claim. Often, we submit a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company asking for a specific amount of compensation based on your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related losses.
This demand letter gives us a starting point for settlement negotiations with the insurer. Typically, they conduct their own investigation after receiving our claim and come up with their own value for your case. They offer this amount and we go to work negotiating a claim that covers the maximum amount of compensation possible.
In most cases, we can reach a fair settlement with the insurance company after several rounds of negotiations. In the rare occasion this is not possible, state law gives us four years from the day of the crash to file a civil suit in court. If we need to pursue this option, a judge or jury will award compensation in your case.
How Do I Know the Full Value of My Claim?
It is impossible to know how much money you will get from your claim until we successfully negotiate a settlement with the insurance company or the court announces your award. However, we will need to determine a fair value of your damages before we can begin negotiations.
To calculate a fair settlement value, we need to collect all bills, receipts, and other documentation of your expenses and losses suffered because of the crash. This may include your medical bills, rehabilitation and therapy costs, lost wages, ongoing care costs, property damages, and other losses. We can help you identify all possible financial losses to maximize your payout and ensure you recover as much compensation as possible for your losses.
In addition to requesting money for your financial losses, we also use the sum of these damages to calculate your non-economic damages. This includes compensation for the pain and suffering the accident caused. If you suffered permanent impairments because of your injuries, your pain and suffering damages may be exponentially higher than your financial damages. We can help you understand how we calculate these damages, which can vary between cases.
How Can I Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer in Fort Myers for Free?
The Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine has the resources and skills you need to win your case and get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. We have offices throughout South Florida to ensure you get the service and representation you need after a car accident.