How Does the Car Accident Settlement Process Work?Get a Free Consultation
If you get into a car accident in Tampa, or in the state of Florida, you may be eligible for financial compensation from one or more insurance companies to help you pay for the costs associated with your crash. Unfortunately, you may find that a car insurance company makes it difficult to obtain a fair financial recovery. Learning about how the car accident settlement process works in Florida can help you avoid settling for less than you deserve.
Who Is Liable for a Car Accident in Florida?
Florida is one of only 12 states that uses a no-fault insurance system. This means that drivers involved in car accidents file claims with their own insurance providers, regardless of fault for the crash. Each driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance pays for their medical bills. If you get injured in a car accident in Florida, your first option for recovery is to call your own car insurance company to file a claim.
The only time a driver may file a claim with the other driver’s car insurance company is if his or her injuries meet Florida’s serious injury threshold under Florida Statutes Section 627.737:
- Permanent, significant loss of an important bodily function.
- An injury that will be permanent with a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Fatal injuries.
If your injuries meet the tort threshold or a loved one died in a fatal car accident, you have the right to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. In addition to PIP insurance, Floridian drivers must carry minimum amounts of liability insurance to cover losses if they are found liable for another driver’s injuries and property damage. You can seek these benefits by filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier instead of your own after a collision. Get the other driver’s insurance information while you’re still at the scene of the accident to prepare for this possibility.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive in a Florida Car Accident Settlement?
The answer to this question depends on your specific case. Car accident settlement values are calculated using multiple factors. First, an insurance company will examine the extent and severity of your injuries. If you suffered a serious injury that requires future medical care, this will increase the value of your insurance claim. You will send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting a specific amount for your losses. The damages to which you may be entitled include:
- Medical expenses (past and future)
- Lost wages and earning capabilities
- Permanent disability
- Vehicle and home accommodations for a disability
- Vehicle repairs
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Punitive damages, in some cases
Next, the insurer will look to see if you contributed to the accident. Florida’s comparative negligence law states that if a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for a car accident, his or her financial recovery will be reduced by an equivalent amount. For example, if you are 15 percent responsible for a crash, this will reduce your monetary recovery by a matching percentage. It is important not to admit fault after a car accident, as an insurance company will be eager to reduce your payout through any evidence that you contributed to the crash.
Should You Accept a Settlement From a Car Insurance Company in Florida?
You should never accept a settlement from a car insurance company in Florida until you’ve spoken to an attorney. Rushing into a fast settlement could prevent you from receiving the compensation that you need for present and future expenses. Once you sign a Release of Liability Waiver, you cannot reopen your case or negotiate for a higher settlement – even if you find out that your case is worth more than you were given by the insurer. You have one chance to get the financial compensation that you deserve for a car accident claim. The best way to maximize your monetary recovery is by hiring a car accident lawyer to represent you in Tampa.