Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Motor Vehicle Accidents
As you know, we are attempting to make an insurance claim for your injuries. Once your doctor concludes that you have obtained the best recovery possible (maximum medical improvement) and prepares a final report, then we will be in a position to begin preparing your comprehensive demand package. This package or demand includes proof of negligence, medical records, medical prognosis, medical billing, lost wages, and other pertinent information. Once complete, the comprehensive demand package is sent to the insurance company. This typically begins the negotiation process. At that point, we have not yet filed a lawsuit. In fact, we do not know if a lawsuit or trial will be necessary. In the event that we are unable to reach a settlement through negotiating with the insurance company, then the filing of a lawsuit on your case will be discussed with the attorney. Not all cases justify the filing of lawsuits. Likewise, not all cases warrant proceeding to a trial.
It is important for you to undergo treatment and therapy as is necessary and recommended by your doctor. This should assist in your actual recovery and will best document your injuries. It is also important for you to inform us if the doctor sends you for tests or treatment outside of their office. Please keep us informed as to how the treatment is going and what the doctors are saying about your injuries.
The defendant’s insurance company should pay for your property damage if their driver was 100% at fault in the accident. However, if you are speaking with an insurance agent about your property damage, you should limit your discussion to the matter of the property damage only. You should not discuss how the accident occurred or discuss your injuries. There are circumstances in which you may have to utilize your own insurance company to pay for your property damage (if you have collision coverage). If you have any questions as to who should be handling your property damage, please call us.
If you require a rental car, you may be able to be reimbursed by the at-fault party’s insurance company. This reimbursement will likely occur if there is no dispute as to who was at fault in the accident. However, if you have rental car coverage with your auto insurance company, you may be entitled to reimbursement directly from your own insurance company.
Do not, under any circumstances, speak with any insurance company regarding the accident or your injuries. If you are receiving calls from an insurance company, inform them that you have retained legal counsel, and then relay our name and phone number to them so that they may contact us for information. Speaking with the insurance company will only be to the insurance company’s advantage, not yours.
Since Florida is a “No-Fault” insurance state, you are required to use your own insurance company, that of your household relatives, or possibly the insurance of the owner of the car you were in at the time of the accident, to pay your medical bills (and possibly receive some lost wages). We will assist you in obtaining the No-Fault/Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits at no additional fee. Your auto insurance policy contains No-Fault/PIP benefits that cover a portion of your medical bills, either 80% or 100%, depending upon your insurance policy. Any medical bills with outstanding balances will be paid at the conclusion of your case, if there are sufficient settlement proceeds. You are ultimately responsible for any outstanding medical balances. We will be seeking compensation from the defendant’s insurance company for any permanent injury, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, etc.
Bodily Injury (BI) coverage is optional coverage that is designed to compensate an injured victim for damages caused by another negligent party. We will notify you as to whether the at-fault party had any BI coverage and, if so, the amount.
Uninsured Motorists (UM) coverage protects an injured person from damages caused by the at-fault party who either has no bodily injury coverage or insufficient bodily injury coverage to compensate you for your damages. In the event that the at-fault party’s insurance company indicates that there is no BI coverage, or not enough BI coverage, the determination must then be made as to whether or not you have UM coverage, and, if so, the amount. We will notify you of the amount of your UM coverage, as well. Florida only requires drivers to have $10,000.00 in property damage, and $10,000.00 in PIP coverage, but does not require Bodily Injury coverage.
Any medical bills that you receive in relation to this automobile accident should be forwarded to our office. This will enable us to address medical bills that we may not be aware of. This is especially important for medical providers that do not know that we represent you.
Please inform us of your new address and/or telephone number as soon as possible after you have moved or changed your telephone number. You may call the office, send the new information by mail, or send the new information via facsimile.
If you lose time from work, you may be entitled to be reimbursed 60% of your normal pay through your insurance company under your No-Fault/PIP benefits. In order to be reimbursed for lost wages, your employer must complete the wage and salary verification form given to you, indicating your pay rate and what days you missed from your employment. In most cases, your treating doctor will be required to issue a disability slip in order for you to be reimbursed for your lost wages.
In addition, any prescriptions paid by you, or mileage that you travel to your doctor’s appointments, are also reimbursed to you through your PIP benefits (typically at 80%). Send all prescription receipts and Mileage Tracking Forms to our office so that we may submit them to your insurance company on your behalf.
If you do not have personal automobile insurance, please speak with us to verify whether you are entitled to insurance benefits elsewhere. You may be entitled to No-Fault/PIP benefits through the automobile insurance of a relative who lives in your same household or from the insurance company of the owner of the vehicle in which you were a passenger.
The attorney evaluates each case, in its entirety, and makes a recommendation about how much will initially be requested from the insurance company. You will be notified of how much we are recommending that we demand, before the demand package is submitted (unless we are requesting all available insurance coverage). If you are not satisfied with this amount, this matter can be discussed. However, asking for more does not equate with a higher offer from the insurance company. Likewise, the figure that we suggest for our initial demand may not be an amount of compensation that we believe the insurance company will pay. It is simply our initial request to the insurance company. You will be notified of offers that are made on your case and you will be advised as to the next anticipated activity on your case.
Each case is handled on an individual basis, since each case involves different facts, injuries, insurance companies, and issues. Thus, the length of time before we are able to discuss negotiations with the insurance company varies. Likewise, the length of the negotiation process varies. In fact, some cases do not settle at all. Cases do not settle because the insurance company does not offer enough compensation, the injured party seeks too much compensation, or because of other reasons. Since we are making a claim for your injuries, the case value is greatly determined based upon the extent of your injuries and treatment. In order for the attorney, the insurance company or a jury to properly evaluate your case, the full extents of your injuries need to be documented in a final report from your treating physician. After we receive that final report, we can then assemble the comprehensive demand package which summarizes your case and injuries. The demand package is then sent to the insurance company. You will receive a copy of the demand package. In response to the demand package, we will receive the insurance company’s response. The insurance company’s response may be a request for an extension, a request for additional information, or clarification of the previously submitted information. It also may be a denial of the claim (i.e. a failure to offer any money), or an offer. This information, or offer, will be conveyed and discussed with you. Furthermore, after receiving your approval, we will then negotiate your claim, and will attempt to resolve your case. We will be seeking to obtain the most possible compensation for you. We are representing your interests.
For information to be correctly documented in your file, we have found that it is frequently best for you to forward information to us by mail or facsimile. At the time of the initial meeting, you should have been provided with self-addressed, stamped envelopes. If you need more envelopes in the future, please let us know. Please be sure to include your full name and return address, especially if you have recently changed your address. Please note that you may call our office at any time.