Tampa FL Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident can be devastating, both physically and financially. If you are facing sudden medical bills, lost time from work, and other expenses, it’s important to have a Tampa FL car accident lawyer fight for you to receive fair compensation so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries. At Little Law, P.A., we can help you deal with claims adjusters and litigate your case if necessary. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault PIP Coverage
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents. That means that if you are in a car accident, you can file a claim against your own Personal Injury Policy (PIP). However, in cases involving “serious” physical injury, you may be able to seek compensation from the liable party’s insurance or file suit against them.
Every Florida driver is required to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. The coverage insures you against three kinds of expenses. Those are:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Other out-of-pocket losses.
Unlike other states, you are not allowed to collect pain and suffering damages or “non-economic” damages in most cases. That is the trade-off for the no-fault system. If you can collect damages related to your economic losses regardless of who is at fault, you can’t sue for compensatory damages like pain and suffering. If, however, your injuries meet the threshold for a “serious” physical injury, you are entitled to sue the at-fault driver directly and recover pain and suffering damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Car Accident Claim in Florida?
There is no legal requirement to have a lawyer to file an insurance claim in Florida. However, if your injuries are severe enough and you’ll be missing time from work, having a Tampa FL car accident lawyer prepare your claim has several advantages. These include:
Maximizing your recovery
Your PIP insurance policy should pay out on all of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages (subject to a $10,000 limit). Is your insurance company enthusiastic about paying out major settlements? Not at all. Our job is to ensure you get the highest possible settlement. Your insurance company is going to try to do the opposite.
Understanding your policy requirements
If you contact an attorney early on in the claims process, we can ensure that you don’t make any missteps that could compromise your claim. For instance, did you know that if you don’t seek treatment within the first two weeks of your accident, your insurance policy won’t cover your medical expenses? Our car accident lawyers can help you avoid this and other pitfalls.
Dealing with insurance company denials
Florida law requires that, in order to receive more than a $2,500 compensation in medical coverage, your injury must qualify as an “emergency medical condition”. That means any injury that, without immediate medical intervention, can seriously jeopardize a person’s long-term health. In some cases, your insurance company will claim that you did not suffer an “emergency medical condition” when you know that you did.
Preparing your claim
Insurance companies are notoriously manipulative when it comes to diminishing the value of their policyholder’s settlements. They will interpret ambiguities in your claims file against you. They will scour your social media accounts looking for evidence that you’re not as injured as you claim you are. And they will attempt to contact you shortly after an accident in order to trip you up or indicate your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim. Having a lawyer file your claim means that all communications will go through us. We can help ensure your claim is complete and shows the full extent of your injuries.
What Happens If My Own Coverage Isn’t Enough to Cover My Damages?
While $10,000 is the minimum, you can always carry more coverage at a higher cost. In Florida, you can only sue another driver if you have suffered “serious” injury. In Florida, this generally refers to the permanent impairment of a bodily organ or a permanent disfigurement. Specifically, a “serious” injury requires that you prove one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement,
- Bone fracture or break,
- Permanent impairment of a bodily organ,
- Limitation of a bodily function or system,
- Full disability for a period of at least 90 days.
If you can show one of the aforementioned injuries, you can file a claim and a lawsuit against the other party. This claim is first processed by their own insurance policy and the remainder would be paid out-of-pocket by the at-fault driver.
In such cases, the at-fault driver (and their insurance company) will defend themselves or their client in one of two ways. They will either say that you are (at least partly) responsible for the accident or they can claim that your injury doesn’t satisfy the threshold that limits tort or injury claims in Florida. In other words, your injury isn’t “serious” enough to justify a lawsuit.
Comparative Fault in Car Accident Cases
If your case does meet the threshold for a “serious” injury, a defendant might claim that you are partly responsible for an accident. In Florida, you can file a lawsuit against an at-fault party regardless of how much personal fault you have. If a jury then determines that you are 20% responsible for an accident, you will be entitled to collect 80% of your total damages. So, if the jury decides that you should get $100,000 and the at-fault driver is 80% responsible for the accident, you are entitled to receive $80,000.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for traffic accident lawsuits is four years. You should not, however, wait that long if your injuries are extensive and you stand to be out of work for a while. The sooner you file the lawsuit, the better off you will be.
Talk to a Tampa FL Car Accident Lawyer Today
Regardless of whether or not you’re filing a claim against your own PIP policy or your injuries are extensive enough that they justify a lawsuit against an at-fault driver, Little Law, P.A. can help you maximize your recovery. Call 813-279-1140 today to learn more about a car accident attorney can help.