Understanding how insurance companies evaluate a claim and knowing how much your claim is worth can help you ensure you are getting the most out of your injury claim. Most people who are involved in an auto accident do not know where the money for their settlement comes from, nor do they know whether the offer is fair. When you are dealing with an attorney, knowing whether they have your best interests in mind is extremely important. That can be the difference between settling at the right number or taking less than what your claim is ultimately worth.
Where does the money come from in a car accident settlement?
There can be multiple insurance policies that apply when you are involved in a car accident. Many people assume that the person who is at fault will pay, and they fail to realize that there could be more than one insurance policy available, depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your auto accident. The first place that you go to seek payment for your damages is the at-fault driver’s policy. They typically carry what is called bodily injury coverage. Now it is important to understand that in Florida, bodily injury is not required. This means that someone could hit you and have no insurance money for you to go after. They have no insurance policy in place to help compensate you for your injuries. This is when other insurance may come into play.
If you have an insurance policy, it is important to make sure that you have what is called uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This usually shows up on an insurance policy as UM benefits. The purpose of this insurance coverage is to step in and cover you in case the person who hit you has no bodily injury insurance or doesn’t have enough to fully satisfy your outstanding bills. So, let’s say someone hits you and only has $10,000 in bodily injury coverage. If you have $40,000 in outstanding bills, that will obviously not be enough to take care of what you owe. If you have UM coverage on your own auto insurance policy, that would step in and help. If you have $50,000 in UM benefits, then that would take care of the remaining amount. So, in total you would get the $10,000 in BI from the other driver’s policy, and then you would get $50,000 from your own UM policy, resulting in a total of $60,000 in compensation.
In Florida, there are also personal injury protection benefits, also known as PIP. These are benefits that are paid to you no matter who is at fault. This means that your insurance company will pay up to $10,000 of your initial medical bills at 80%. In order to qualify for these benefits, you must get a physician to state that you have an emergency medical condition or EMC. If you do not get the EMC determination, your benefits through PIP will be capped at $2,500. It is also important to remember that in order to qualify for PIP benefits, you must have sought care with a qualifying medical provider within the first 14 days following an accident. PIP benefits do not cover visits for treatment related to massage or acupuncture. Finally, PIP benefits are not paid to the client, those are benefits which are paid directly to the medical providers. Clients often believe that they will get this extra $10,000 in their pockets as additional settlement money, but that is not how these benefits work.
How is a fair offer calculated in a car accident claim?
Many people in Florida often wonder whether the offer they receive from the insurance company is fair and whether or not they should accept it. It is important to understand that if you have an attorney, you should sit down with them and let them talk to you about why it is or is not a good offer. An ideal settlement will be enough to take care of your medical bills, pay your attorney their percentage, and also leave money left over for you. It is sometimes hard for people to understand that settlement value is often based on the amount of coverage that is available and the extent of the treatment you underwent. If you only went to the emergency room and saw a chiropractor a few times, that settlement will usually not be as high as someone who underwent injection therapy or had surgery. Insurance companies often look to see what your damages are, and they do this by looking at the number of medical bills you still owe to your medical providers.
The other big factor when it comes to settlement offers is the amount of insurance coverage that is available. If someone hits you and they only have $10,000 in bodily injury coverage and you have no UM, you may only get that $10,000 because that is the extent of the coverage which is available to you. You would not typically be able to recover an amount above and beyond that $10,000 if it is offered to you.
What should I do if I was injured in a car accident?
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident in Florida and need legal assistance, the attorneys at the Lopez Law Group stand by ready to assist. We understand the complexities of a car accident and can walk you through the process. We understand what a good settlement offer is, and we will keep you informed and up to date on the process. We know that this is a very stressful time in your life, and we are here to be with you every step along the way. Our team of experienced attorneys can be reached at 727-933-0015. We can provide a free consultation and advise you whether or not we think you have a solid case and whether or not it is something you should pursue further. Our attorneys are standing by, give us a call today!