If you have been injured in a car accident in Gainesville, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. Perhaps you have questions, and you need answers. The legal team at Meldon Law may be able to help. For answers to the questions our clients most frequently ask, see below, and for any additional questions related to the facts of your case, please contact us today at (352) 373-8000 or online to schedule a free consultation.
What does a no fault state mean for Florida drivers?
Many people are confused about what the no fault law in Florida really means for anyone who is involved in a motor vehicle accident. It does not mean that no one is to blame for causing an accident, or that it doesn’t matter who is to blame. Instead, “no fault” means everyone who owns a motor vehicle registered in the state is required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage of at least $10,000. This coverage applies toward their own medical expenses and any lost wages resulting from their accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Unfortunately, many people will find that the minimum required coverage of $10,000 is simply not enough to pay for their actual damages. Therefore, it can be critically important to establish who was at fault for an accident, and whose insurance carrier will be responsible for paying for damages.
What happens if I was hit by a driver who has no insurance?
It is a sad fact that if you are injured in an accident, even if you were not at fault, you may be stuck paying thousands of dollars in medical bills because the other driver had no insurance. An option to help reduce this risk is to carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage yourself. While it is not required in Florida, it is strongly recommended that all Florida drivers get this type of insurance to protect themselves and their loved ones in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
I was injured and the costs of my injuries exceeded the limit of my PIP policy. What now?
When this happens, it may be time to file a personal injury claim with the at fault party’s insurance company in order to access additional insurance coverage that can be used for your damages, beyond what was covered by your PIP policy.
Can I file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver even if I was partially at fault for the accident?
Yes. Florida has a pure comparative negligence rule. This means that even if you were partially at fault for your accident, you may still be eligible for compensation for your injuries. However, the percentage of your blame for the accident may be deducted from any settlement or verdict award you may receive. For example, if you were awarded $100,000 but found to be 15 percent responsible for the accident, you would receive $85,000.
The other driver’s insurance company has offered me a settlement. It seems a little low for the extent of my injuries. What should I do?
It is a common tactic of insurance companies to offer a quick, low-ball settlement that does not reflect the full extent of the victim’s damages, including costs of ongoing medical care, loss of wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering. They bank on the theory that the injured party will prefer a quick payout, and fail to realize the actual costs of their long-term damages until well after the release of liability has been made. The problem when someone signs for a quick settlement, but then later learns their damages are more extensive than the amount they received, is they will be barred from going back and seeking any additional compensation.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to determine whether the settlement you have been offered is fair and based on both your actual existing injuries and projected damages.
What if the insurance carrier denied my claim?
Insurance carriers deny claims far more often than most consumers realize. They do this for a number of reasons, such as:
- The policy that you or the other driver has does not cover accidents of the type that you experienced.
- The other driver was uninsured and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage.
- You or the other driver were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
- Your damages exceeded the limits of the policy.
- You missed required reporting deadlines.
- You made false or misleading claims.
- You failed to pay your insurance premiums.
If your claim has been denied, an attorney can file an appeal and submit evidence regarding the accident and the damages you suffered.
What damages can I claim?
Damages may be economic and non-economic, and may include but are not limited to:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses for injuries that occurred in the accident, including the cost of long-term health care
- Accessibility devices such as wheelchairs and lifts, and home renovations that are required for accessibility, such as ramps
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
The other driver’s insurance adjuster wants a copy of my medical records. Should I release them?
Not without speaking to your attorney first. Your medical information is protected and private, and should only be shared under limited circumstances.
What must be proven in order to obtain an award in a car accident case?
To successfully litigate your claims in a personal injury case, you must prove the other driver’s negligence by showing:
- The driver owed you a duty of care to operate their motor vehicle in a safe manner;
- The driver breached their duty of care;
- That breach caused your injuries; and
- Damages. This is especially important when those costs exceed what is available from the at fault driver’s insurance policy, your PIP, and/or your uninsured motorist coverage.
Were You Injured in a Gainsville Auto Accident? Call Meldon Law Today!
If you have been injured in a car accident in Gainesville, speak to an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact Meldon Law at (352) 373-8000 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.