Legal Q&A

Answers to common legal questions about accidental injury, negligence, and insurance.
Question: My one year old daughter and I were passengers in friend's car and were involved in a crash I don’t know exactly what to do.

My friend’s tire blew as we were driving on the turnpike. The vehicle spun and we hit the guard rail twice. Damage was done to the front and back of the vehicle. Fortunate for us, we walked away with minor injuries. My daughter was in her car seat behind me and had several bruises. I brought her to the ER next day for x-rays. I had neck pain/stiffness and my side/lower back would burn. It’s been a week and now my body is quick to cramp. Still have back pain. I was told that my friend’s insurance will pay 20% and my auto insurance has to pay 80%. I don’t understand this. I meet with his insurance on Friday to talk about loss wages/pain and suffering/medical bills. I don’t know what I am doing. Will we be paid for pain and suffering?

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear about your accident. It appears as though your friend’s insurance company has accepted liability for the accident and is trying to meet with you to discuss possible settlement of your bodily injury claim.

Under PIP coverage in Florida, your auto insurance will be responsible for paying any related medical expenses at 80%, in addition to any lost wages at 60% (up to $10,000.00). In order for PIP coverage to pay, you need to be seen by a doctor within 14 days of the accident (do not miss this deadline).

The 20% co-pay of your medical expenses and 40% of you lost wages are considered economic damages, or out of pocket expenses. You have a right to claim these damages from the bodily injury coverage of the at-fault driver’s insurance.

Pain and suffering is known as non-economic damages, and in order to recover these damages, you need to show that you’ve met the threshold in Florida-which is primarily done by proving that you have suffered a permanent injury. This sounds more serious than it really is. Usually, a doctor can diagnose you with a permanent injury if you still continue to suffer from accident related pain or discomfort after a few months of treatment.

I recommend that you contact my office for a free consultation and complete analysis of your case before your meeting on Friday. If you decide to not to, it is extremely important that you DO NOT sign any documents (most importantly a release of liability) before consulting with an attorney. They may even offer to cut you a check then and there.

From my experience, a good attorney can, on average recover, 3 to 5 times the amount they will be offering you. The statute of limitations in FL for negligence is 4 years. There is absolutely no rush for you to settle your bodily injury claim without knowing the full extent of your injuries and future treatment. I look forward to hearing from you.

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