Personal injury accident victims often face massive financial burdens in addition to the physical and mental pressures of such rough times. Should I accept the insurance offer after a car accident? The one tiny glimmer of hope in such uncertain and depressing times is the idea of being compensated for bodily injury liability and other damages.
The extent of the physical and mental anguish of personal injury victims is not easy to define because every case is unique and everyone has a different threshold of pain. Thus the personal injury protection coverage should account for all of your losses and how the damages affected you.
So when you get that call from the insurance company representative, don’t rush things.
Instead, keep the settlement negotiations on hold for a while. You don’t want to be left with an inadequate sum for your auto accident claim, barely enough to help you get back on your feet and make up for your pain and suffering.
You should take your time, without delaying matters unnecessarily, before seeking fair compensation.
To answer the main question: no, never accept the first offer that the insurance company makes regarding your personal injury claim.
And if you plan on going to a court of law after exhausting all the other avenues, be sure to do so under the proscribed period of time (statute of limitations).
Okay, let’s start with the bad news – Florida is a no-fault state. How does this affect you? Well, a lot. Only a handful of states in the USA follows the no-fault statute which is highly unpopular, and according to many legal experts who have tried their best to get it changed, very unfair.
This legal system states that in the case of a car accident, the parties involved, both the at-fault driver/party and the victim, will be responsible for their own compensation. In simpler words, your own personal injury protection coverage will compensate you for your losses, no matter who was at fault.
Car drivers in Florida are legally required to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection and the same sum in property damage liability coverage as part of an auto insurance policy. These sums are not all that high, and thus they may be far from a fair settlement for some.
As unfair as things are with the no-fault statute, this law is not a rigid one.
You CAN sue the other party for your damages if you’ve suffered seriously enough. The best deal here is to seek legal consultation with experienced car accident attorneys and explore your legal options first. If the personal injury lawyers are confident that you can sue the other party, then there is no point in settling for a nominal sum, you can claim maximum compensation, limited only by how much the other party can pay.
Please note that this exception to the no-fault statute only applies to bodily injury claims involving permanent injuries and wrongful deaths that result due to the accident. Thus, a traumatic brain injury (which may leave permanent effects), spinal cord injury, amputation, disfiguration, and paralysis are cases that allow victims to sue the other party as part of their personal injury claim.
If the victim passes away, their survivors (parents, spouse, and children) have the right to legal compensation as well and may sue the other party for the damages including both economic (such as vehicle repairs) and non-economic (pain and suffering).
Usually, the compensation sum caps for around $10,000 for injury liability insurance or the death of a single person, twice as much for two, and the same sum ($10,000) for property damage; the injury liability limits are quite narrow here.
This, of course, happens because many drivers only carry the bare minimum insurance coverage for driving – another technicality that makes the claims process very difficult.
But as mentioned earlier, permanent injuries (or those with the potential of leaving a permanent impact on the patients) and deaths give the victims a green light to sue the at-fault driver.
However, in any case, the no-fault statute of Florida is especially tricky to deal with, and covering the damages will be hard if you don’t proceed according to legal counsel. Thus, you must waste no time in hooking up with expert personal injury attorneys and taking charge of the situation if you wish to get fairly compensated for your severe injuries and other losses.
Just remember not to let the no-fault statute bother you – there are always exceptions that will allow you to sue the responsible party (or parties), thus seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
One of the leading reasons why people tend to accept the first offer from their insurance companies in bodily injury liability cases is the fact that not every driver in the USA is insured. Uninsured motorists pose a huge problem in a victim’s bid to seek liability compensation.
Not only can they not offer any insurance money to help you step out of such turbulent times, but they usually don’t possess anything of enough value to cash out and pay the victim. Thus, many accident survivors are left hopeless about their chances of securing compensation.
Statistically speaking, 1/8 drivers throughout the USA are uninsured, these numbers have been reported by the Insurance Research Council. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Florida, yes good old “no-fault Florida” has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers in all the USA.
Thus, even if your case allows you to sue the other party, you may not be able to get enough from them because they simply don’t have anything to offer. Remember this: all drivers are legally required to have insurance coverage if they’re driving in Florida, thus an uninsured driver is violating this law.
But you still do have options...
We’ll say it again, loud and clear: you don’t have to say “yes” to the first offer that the insurance adjusters or an uninsured motorist extends to you – explore your legal options first, in every case!
Conversely, if you accept a nominal sum from the at-fault driver, you will forfeit your right to compensation from your own personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage. Thus, be very careful and don’t act rashly (either way).
Only after you’ve discussed the matters in great detail with experienced personal injury lawyers, should you decide on how to approach it.
Most people mistakenly assume that the role of car accident lawyers in a personal injury settlement case is only limited to the courtroom – this is far from the truth. Proper legal guidance can help you traverse through every inch of these turbulent waters of bodily injury liability without fear and with complete knowledge of the matter.
You need to understand the risks and your options in accident injury settlements before moving on with seeking compensation for pain, suffering, and financial losses; also, you need to understand how the settlement process is dictated by policy limits (when settling with your own insurance provider).
Remember, your words can be used against you in a court of law, thus avoid spilling the beans over things that you ought not to discuss with the injury liability adjusters. This does not mean that you should hide facts, instead, present a consistent narrative that highlights the facts related to your accident but without making yourself look bad (a lawyer can help you out here).
You will lose a part of the compensation if you admit a percentage of fault, and the insurance company of the other party (in case you can sue them), will try their best to make you do so, even if inadvertently. This is another reason why you should seek legal representation early on in the settlement negotiations, this way, you will ensure that you don’t say stuff that you’re not supposed to say.
In short, discussing matters with a personal injury lawyer before moving ahead with seeking a settlement for your claims for damages, such as your injuries and vehicle repair costs, is a ‘must-do.’
Here’s how lawyers and law firms can help you make your case solid and more promising:
They’ll review your scenario and tell you exactly where you stand in the whole thing and whether you can expect maximum compensation or not. This is important because it will help you play your cards right, gather convincing evidence (such as the police reports and proof of damages), and not give in to an unfair first offer from the insurance company.
The other side of the narrative is just as important. What if the at-fault driver is adamant and refusing to accept blame? Well, your lawyer can certainly find inconsistencies in their narrative and help you play those weaknesses to your advantage. You can also escape a nominal ‘compensation bait’ and instead go for the real catch – just be sure to let your lawyers take charge where things seem blurry.
Your lawyers will also help you with the legal technicalities. For instance, as mentioned earlier, Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents but you CAN sue the other party if you’ve suffered from a permanent injury or if there’s been a wrongful death due to the accident. Several other legal rights may also help you take matters to the court for bodily injury liability and bring the other party to pay up, your lawyer will help you explore those options for you. If you do take matters to the court, an experienced lawyer may also win you some punitive damages, swelling up your compensation sum significantly; just remember to respect the time limits for filing personal injury lawsuits.
These reasons are solid enough to base the argument for the involvement of lawyers in personal injury settlements and lawsuits. If you plan to secure adequate compensation, however possible, then seeking the expertise of competent personal injury attorneys should be step one.
Just be sure to check the track record of whoever you plan on hiring and do ask if they offer flexible payment solutions like the contingency fee plan.
Hundreds of thousands of car accidents happen on the streets of Florida, yearly, based on the accident reports filed across the state, every year. Fatalities resulting due to these accidents also reach thousands, thus to say that car crashes in Florida can be intense would be a vast understatement.
While injuries like whiplash, bruises, lacerations, muscle damage, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, and internal bleeding are almost ubiquitous in such accidents, more serious injuries are very much possible. Conditions like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken or shattered bones, amputations, disfigurations and other serious traumas are also quite prevalent.
Such intense injuries happen more often than most people believe and may not be thoroughly covered by your liability insurance coverage.
Depending on the intensity of an injury, the healing time will also drag on. Many victims may not get to see their normal lives again, at least not as soon as they'd want to. For others, "normal" becomes nothing but a part of their past, never to return.
Even if an injury is not permanent itself, it can cause some serious financial drains for a long period of time, perhaps even permanently. For instance, if a brain trauma never truly resolves (the effects linger), the victim will need medical care for the rest of their life for it.
Thus, seeking legal counsel regarding the nature of your injuries (whether they can be characterized as permanent or not) and your options for bodily injury liability compensation is highly recommended.
Medical bills, if they are to linger, will not decrease over time – they are most likely to become more troublesome and intense as time passes. The cumulative costs may reach unimaginable heights, thus necessitating a bigger sum for bodily injury liability compensation.
An injury to the spinal cord, the hub of sensory and motor transmissions throughout the body, can deeply disturb bodily functioning, in addition to leaving the patient in a state of deep agony. Depending on the location of the injury, the intensity of the damages done will vary – usually, the upper parts can cause the most destruction if struck.
The injury may be complete or incomplete depending on whether the victim feels sensation beneath the location of trauma. Depending on the intensity of the injury, the age of the individual, and their lifestyle, the costs of living with a spinal cord trauma for life will vary.
The monetary sum for spinal injuries may easily reach millions of dollars, cumulatively.
Add to these expenses the adjustments needed to make life normal, i.e. getting a wheelchair, relocating to somewhere more convenient (where there are no stairs), getting accessible transport means (for disabled people), and other lifestyle adaptations will also cost money.
Thus a single cheque for a couple of thousand dollars will be vastly inadequate for bodily injury liability in such cases.
A head injury may easily cross the physical barriers protecting the vulnerable brain and cause some serious injury to this single most important organ of the body, the one that defines life itself. Traumatic brain injuries can directly affect the bodily functions and overall normalcy of the individuals who are on the receiving end of such a horrendous injury.
The sufferers may face:
· Difficulties in speech and hearing
· Problems with the vision
· Inability to balance the body like before
· Lack of coordination in the body movements and actions
· Loss of memory or the potential to memorize things from that point onwards
· Impaired thinking
· Negative effects on learning capabilities
· Problems with emotions
Thus the patients may require mental health treatment in addition to regular medical treatment to feel better, even if partially. Sometimes, the victims may need 24/7 attention in nursing homes which easily cost thousands of dollars per month (rent).
The financial damages associated with having the sole breadwinner of a family drawn into the effects of a traumatic brain injury are also staggering. Thus the family members will be entitled to a much higher compensation and the first offer may not even be close to what they need.
These are just two examples of how personal injuries can leave lasting impacts on the lives of accident victims and thus allow them to sue the other party for bodily injury liability thus securing a far bigger compensation (possibly) than what their insurance company may have offered.
While Florida continues to hang onto the thin thread of no-fault statute for bodily injury liability, your options are not as limited as you may think. You can sue the at-fault party if certain conditions are met. Then there’s always the possibility of having multiple liable parties involved at once.
In any case, if you accept the first offer from the insurance company, you forfeit your other legal rights and options regarding the settlement..
Don’t worry, your insurance company is going nowhere, you can always come back to their table with your insurance claims, but it is best to explore all the other avenues first, especially the possibility of seeking compensation from the at-fault party if the law permits it.
Most people don’t bother with hiring lawyers for settlement negotiations, but it is highly recommended that you do so. If you’re worried about not being able to afford the legal fees than don’t let that hold you back because we, at the VG Law Group - a highly acclaimed personal injury law firm, offer flexible payment options.
We won’t charge you for the consultation either.
So, don’t hesitate to call us, and our talented personal injury lawyers will handle your case from there on!