Auto Accidents and Personal Injury Claims in Tampa Bay
Car accidents injure almost 3 million people a year in the US, and 42,000 are killed. The auto insurance industry is big business, and personal injury claims big and small are treated with extreme scrutiny. This can become extremely frustrating for even the most patient of people. While treating your injuries, you must deal with your own auto insurance company and the other drivers insurance company. But who covers what? In Florida, it depends on the coverages available and the language of the specific policy. To protect your rights, both policies should be carefully reviewed before any statements are given or releases are signed. Our lawyers (attorneys) will assist you from beginning to end, including the property damage to your car.
Q: What communication do I have with my Auto Insurance Company?
A: Most policies contain a clause requiring you to cooperate with any investigation by your own insurance company. Before submitting to a recorded statement, you should review the policy to determine your obligations, or your attorney can do it for you. You should always have your attorney involved in the statement so that it is properly restricted to the scope permitted by law.
Q: I have auto insurance so why won’t the insurance company take care of all of the expenditures?
A: If you are a Florida resident, you should have PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or no-fault coverage. This insurance should cover expenditures whether or not the person seeking benefits is at fault. You may have a deductible associated with your PIP coverage, but after that, you can expect the insurance company to pay at least 80% of your accident related bills and 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000.
In the case of a catastrophic accident with a large amount of expenses, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is critical. Oftentimes, when purchasing insurance, consumers are not aware of the importance of this part of the coverage. If you are involved in an accident with an individual who does not have any or insufficient insurance coverage, the uninsured/underinsured coverage would step in to help make up the difference.
Q: How much will I receive for my case?
A: There are many factors in determining the worth of your case including: past medical bills, future medical bills, past lost wages, loss of earning capacity in the future, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and others. This must all be considered against factors such as who was at fault and whether or not the doctors will testify your injuries suffered are specifically related to the accident versus a reoccurrence of an earlier injury. It is difficult to give an exact dollar figure to your case until all of the facts arereviewed and considered. However, an initial review could provide an estimate based on what you tell us about your case.
Q: What will it cost me to pursue my case?
A: If the case settles before filing a suit and receipt of an answer, our firm would receive a fee of 33 1/3% plus costs. If the case should proceed from presuit to suit and you recover, then our firm would receive a fee of 40%. If you are unable to recover any financial award, we do not collect a fee and the costs would be written off.
Q: Why does a case go to trial?
A: Insurance companies are very aggressive when it comes to protecting their assets. These companies are in business for a profit, and their responsibility is to their shareholders, not you. Therefore, they will make it more difficult for an individual to receive money by litigating the case. Litigation can result in going to court, although often, the insurer will wind up settling the case before getting to court. It is a method of dragging out the process and making things more difficult for the plaintiff.
Q: What is maximum medical improvement (MMI) and a permanent impairment rating?
A: Maximum Medical Improvement is defined as the point in your treatment where the doctor determines that further recovery is not anticipated (i.e. your not going to get any better). Essentially, at that time your treatment shifts from rehabilitative treatment to palliative care (i.e. you still need medical care to keep from getting worse, but you are not expected to physically recover any further). In the case where a permanent injury has occured, the insurance company wants to know, after receiving maximum medical improvement, what is the permanent impairment rating as determined by your physician? When determining this rating, the physician is required to use guidelines established by the American Medical Association. Essentially, the impairment rating is a basis for evaluation by the insurance company.
Q: How do I pay for my treatments while awaiting any financial recovery?
A: In the event the insurance coverage is fully exhausted, a physician may accept a “letter of protection.” Given the medical facility or treating physician accepts it, this allows you to continue receiving treatment until you receive a recovery for your case. Their bills will then be paid out of the settlement or verdict you receive upon resolving your case.
Q: How long will my case take?
A: While every case is different, a typical auto accident case can take from four to eight months to resolve. A case may take longer where ongoing medical treatment is needed to determine the full extent of the client’s injuries and needs for recovery. Obviously, it is important to know the full extent of the damages before a demand for damages is made. This process allows us to ensure an adequate demand for damages is made.
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Auto injury attorneys at Brumbelow Drechsel in St. Petersburg, Florida, represent clients throughout Florida and most frequently the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area, including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Largo, St. Petersburg, Tamapa, Lakeland, Pinellas Park, Duneden, Safety Harbor, St. Pete Beach, Madiera Beach, Treasure Island, Kenneth City, Seminole, Spring Hill, Holidy, New Port Richely,and Odesa; from counties including Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Citrus County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Hernando County, Polk County, and Pasco County.