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Articles Posted in insurance coverage issues

After years of debate, measures have moved forward in both chambers of the Florida legislature to repeal the state’s 50-year-old motor vehicle no-fault law. Senate Bill 54 has already passed, while companion House Bill 719 was approved in the committee stage on April 19, 2021. The proposed legislation has been the subject of some controversy among lawmakers, insurance industry experts, and consumer groups, who argue over how eliminating the no-fault law will affect insurance rates. 

Under the current no-fault rule, if you were injured in a Miami car accident,  you would seek compensation from your own insurance company through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If passed and signed by the governor, Florida would essentially become a so-called “at-fault” state: You would file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to obtain monetary damages after a collision.

Obviously, the elimination of no-fault principles is a major reversal of existing law and will have considerable implications if you were hurt in a motor vehicle crash. Here are some things to know as the bills move closer to passage. 

When you discuss auto insurance rates with non-Floridians or look up costs in other U.S. states, one glaring fact becomes apparent: Florida residents pay far more for premiums, up to double compared to other areas. A recent Yahoo! Finance article confirms that Florida is ranked second on the list of most expensive states for car insurance in 2020, with motorists paying around $2,178 every year. There are many underlying factors, including the various types of coverage that are required by law or recommended reasons. 

As frustrating as it may be to pay more for auto insurance, you do reap the benefits in many ways if you are involved in a crash. A Miami car accident attorney can help you maximize compensation for your losses, but you get a basic grasp on why Florida auto insurance is higher.

How Insurers Set Premiums

Even when you take proper safety precautions, drive defensively, and follow all traffic laws, the risk of being involved in a car accident is still shockingly high. In reporting statistics for South Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reveals that there are almost 212,000 auto collisions in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties every year. The death toll tops 1,000, while another 111,300 people suffer injuries. Fortunately, you have options under Florida law, so you may be able to recover compensation for your overwhelming losses. 

There is more to the legal process than filling out a few forms and submitting them to the responsible driver’s insurance company. Insurers often deny claims by asserting defenses to liability, and these issues could even become the focus of litigation. You can trust a Miami car accident lawyer to develop a sound legal strategy, but it is important to know what defenses insurance companies may use to your detriment.

Statute of Limitations

Victims of vehicle crashes, slip and fall incidents, and other accidents are often surprised to learn that most of these cases are resolved before trial via out-of-court settlements. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that just 4-5% of all personal injury claims are decided by a jury or judge, so the remaining cases never get to the verdict stage. This might sound like good news if you were hurt in an accident, since it means you do not need to go to court and can recover compensation as soon as you agree to the settlement amount. 

However, there are significant risks involved with settling too quickly. Even though a settlement offer might seem attractive, you could make a critical mistake by accepting before you understand the big picture. Some general information should convince you why you should trust a Miami personal injury attorney to represent you in connection with settlement negotiations.

The Role of the Insurance Company

Car accidents make up a whopping 99% of all non-fatal transportation injuries in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2020 Report. Millions of victims and their families are expected to file insurance claims for their losses. Even if you do not have a legal background, you probably hear a lot about how fault plays a role in the process. Legal liability concepts are central to your rights and remedies, but they work a little bit differently after a Miami car accident. In many cases, fault may not be key because you will seek compensation from your own insurance company under Florida’s no fault rules. 

However, there are some instances in which you qualify to file an injury claim with the other driver’s insurer – and proving fault is definitely a requirement to obtain compensation. Your Miami car accidents attorney can explain the details, but you might find the following information useful.

Why Fault Matters in a Miami Auto Crash

helloquence-51716-unsplash-copy-300x200According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Traffic Crash Facts, there are more than 248,000 people hurt in Florida car accidents every year, and almost 32,500 injured victims in Miami-Dade County alone. For many of these individuals, the legal process for recovering compensation starts with filing an insurance claim. You might be working with your own insurance company, since Florida is a no-fault state; however, in some cases, you will file a third-party claim with the insurer for the responsible driver.

In either situation, you may be presented with a “release,” a document that carries very important implications for your rights as a victim. As such, you should always consult with a Miami car accident lawyer before signing, and these warnings about releases should convince you of the reasons why.

  • You Give Up Your Rights: The point of a release is to resolve your auto crash claim with the insurance company. In exchange for your signature, the insurer will offer a payout to cover your losses, with the stipulation that you have no further rights or remedies. When you are injured and facing an uncertain financial situation, the settlement amount may seem attractive. However, by giving up your rights, you risk being under-compensated. 

bill-oxford-8u_2imJaVQs-unsplash-copy-200x300When you are hurt in an accident and want to seek compensation from the responsible person or entity, you will typically file a claim under an auto, business, property, or other insurance policy. Because the nature of your injuries is a key factor in getting monetary damages, you can expect that the insurer will want to see your medical records. On its face, this does not seem like an unreasonable request, so you may think there is nothing wrong with providing them. 

However, the exact opposite is usually true. You could be making a huge mistake that has extensive, negative implications for your rights. Instead of discussing the issue with the insurance company directly, you should trust a Miami personal injury attorney to deal with an adjuster. After reviewing the information below, you will understand why.

Reasons You May be Asked to Provide Medical Records

When you have been hurt in a Miami car accident, you are probably aware that recovering compensation for your losses starts with filing an insurance claim. Once you submit the initial paperwork, you can expect a call from the responsible driver’s insurer, since the company will want information regarding the crash, your injuries, and related details. Because you know that Florida law imposes a four-year statute of limitations, you are probably eager to get this discussion out of the way. 

While the adjuster may seem friendly and helpful during the conversation, you should note that this person is NOT just seeking basic information to get payment to you quickly. Instead, the insurance company’s employee is trying to figure out strategies to deny your claim. Because of the implications for your rights, it is best to have your Miami car accidents attorney handle the discussion. Still, you should be familiar with some of the questions the adjuster might ask.

Avoid Responding to Questions That Affect Your Rights

kyle-glenn-629501-unsplash-1-copy-300x200It is no secret that your insurance rates could increase considerably when you are at fault in a motor vehicle crash. As such, you probably understand the other driver’s similar sentiment when he or she was negligent in causing a crash in which you were hurt. There is a strong temptation to resolve the matter without getting an insurance company involved, and that motorist’s offer may seem very attractive at the time. The problem with not going through the proper claims process is that you could put your rights at risk through various legal issues – which you are certainly not considering when the at-fault driver pulls out a checkbook. 

A Miami car accidents attorney can explain the drawbacks of bypassing an insurance company after a vehicle crash, but you should be aware of the key pitfalls that could threaten your interests.

Reasons an At-Fault Driver Will Not Use Insurance: You can probably relate to some of the top reasons another motorist would refuse to exchange auto insurance information or suggest not calling the company about the crash:

taylor-grote-L3qUP8MpExc-unsplash-copy-300x200Dealing with an insurer’s claims adjuster may be the last thing on your mind after suffering injuries in a Miami auto crash, but you can expect the phone to ring in the days that follow. Though you may view the conversation as an annoyance, keep in mind that it is a necessary part of the process when you are filing an injury claim. Typically, the insurance adjuster will be seeking information regarding fault and the severity of your injuries, so what you say – and DO NOT say – is critical. It is always important to seek the advice of a Miami car accidents attorney before you answer the call, but you may find some tips to be useful. 

Be Calm and Courteous

Start things off on the right foot, even if you are angry, anxious, or frustrated. You should stay calm during the conversation and be polite. The person on the other end of the call is just doing his or her job, even if you do have opposing interests in the claim.

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