It has been estimated that more than four million people are injured each year on the roadways in the United States.
Have you recently been in an accident and had to deal with your Florida auto insurance company? If so, then you probably already know that dealing with the insurance company in Florida of the driver who hit you is not a pleasant experience. If you’ve been injured and your vehicle is damaged, you’ll want to seek compensation and take steps to minimize the long-term financial impact of the accident. Therefore, you should always keep this fact in mind: a car insurance company in Florida is not on your side.
You may be tempted to do what you can to get out of this situation as quickly as possible, but if you are suffering from any sort of injury you need to be careful.
This is why it is best to hire a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and financial future.
If you have been in a car accident, as soon as it is safe to do so, call the police to the scene of the accident.
Consult with an Accident Lawyer
The hardest thing about being involved in a car accident is dealing with the insurance companies. If you are injured in an automobile accident, it’s best to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney before speaking to the insurance company or the other driver.
The second thing you should do is contact your accident lawyer.
An attorney can review your case, and they can answer questions for you, like:
- Can I still sue the other driver?
- Did the other driver’s insurance company offer me a fair settlement?
- What should I do if the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay?
- Are there other things I can sue for besides medical bills?
Insurance companies are motivated by one thing… making money for their shareholders. This means that, as a client, you should be wary of the methods used by your insurer in evaluating your claim. The job of an insurance adjuster is to minimize the amount that the insurance company will have to pay out in claims and their interests are not necessarily in your best interest, they are looking out for theirs.
An adjuster might offer $10,000, but your attorney might recommend $12,500. The insurance company might counter with $8,000, but your attorney might counter with $9,500. The insurance company will decide who wins. The less they feel like they’ll lose, the more willing they will be to negotiate.
Do Not Accept The First Settlement Offer
Too often, people take the first settlement offer they’re given and assume that they’re making the best decision. They exist to help their bottom line, and the biggest way they can do that is by minimizing what they payout.
A good legal professional will tell you that often the first settlement offer is not the best one. A legal professional also can look into your case and negotiate with the insurance company. A lawyer is familiar with the laws surrounding car accidents and will know how to maximize your settlement. It might seem like you’re doing yourself damage by rejecting an offer, but by doing so you might be getting more money to cover your medical bills or payments for your vehicle repairs. You might find that it is better to wait and look into hiring a lawyer to help you instead of taking the first bid.
Sometimes an insurance company will low-ball their initial settlement offer. In many cases, especially if your injuries are severe, they just want to settle as quickly as possible to minimize the amount they have to pay for your claim. However, in some cases, you may not be aware of the actual extent of your injuries following the accident either. So, accepting the first offer would be a disservice to you as your bills continue to pile up.
Reimbursement of Medical Expenses
If you’ve been in a car accident and you’ve been injured, one more problem you might run into is the insurance company dragging its feet when it comes to paying your medical bills. This can be a very frustrating situation to be in and you might feel like the insurance company is trying to get out of their responsibility and not pay what they owe.
Legal issues can quickly pile up following a car accident. As soon as you are able to do so, contact your auto insurance agent to report the details of the accident. Doing this quickly will help provide evidence that there were no pre-existing conditions and that the cause of any injuries was due to the accident you were in.
Get in touch with your health care provider and make an appointment for injuries you might’ve sustained, like an injured back or head. If possible, try to provide information about other parties involved in the accident or witnesses.
Watch Your Mouth
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” goes the proverb.
The most important thing to remember is that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. The insurance adjuster can and will use that information against you, and it doesn’t have to be true. Be smart — don’t give them any information unless you have spoken to a lawyer first.
The Right to Appeal a Decision
If the insurance company offers less than fair market value, you have the right to fight them. Under Florida law, you have the right to appeal any offer made by the insurance company when your vehicle is declared a total loss.
The insurance company will assign a “loss adjuster” to advise you. The loss adjuster might request additional documentation, such as receipts for repairs or appraisals of your vehicle.
The loss adjuster will also provide you` with information about fair market value. Once he/she recommends a dollar amount, you have the right to appeal.
You can appeal the insurance company’s offer in writing. To do so, you should write a letter that explains why you feel the offer is too low. The letter should list all repairs made, as well as any other circumstances that you believe can affect the value of your vehicle.
Be sure to include copies of receipts for any repairs that the insurance company has denied. If you don’t include receipts, the insurance company has no reason to reconsider its offer. If the insurance company denies your claim, your right to appeal is waived. Otherwise, the insurance company has 30 days to accept or reject your appeal.
Either way, your arbitration hearing should take no more than 30 days.
Your insurance company cannot charge you for the cost of arbitration. The Florida legislature has deemed that the cost of filing your arbitration claim is a cost of doing business.
Auto accidents can be incredibly stressful events. The accident itself may be traumatizing, but dealing with the insurance companies involved can be even more stressful. That’s why it’s important for you to understand as much as possible about car accident claims. The more information you have, the more equipped you are to negotiate the best possible settlement with the insurance company.