I was recently in a car accident where a vechile ran a red light and hit my car. this was my first and only accident and I just need to know what are my options and what I am entitled to.
This fact pattern is 90% of my clientele. First, all Florida drivers are required to carry PIP and Property Damage coverage. Assuming that the other driver is 100% at fault, then their property damage coverage should pay to repair your car. If your car is determined to be a total loss, then they'll take your car and pay you it's actual cash value (unfortunately, that amount is never enough).
If you have medical bills, then your PIP coverage is the first source to pay on them. Thanks to the republicans in the Florida legislature, PIP doesn't pay very much. The formula is: PIP pays 80% of 2 x Medicare Rate Card rate (after your deductible is exhausted) for each treatment code submitted properly for payment. I just hope that you have a decent company and not one of the notorious companies that refuse to honor the policy and the law and jerk you around. If so, then your own insurer may need to be sued to enforce your rights.
Since there will be medical expenses unpaid after PIP and since PIP doesn't cover pain/suffering, mental anguish, future damages, etc., you want for the other vehicle owner to also carry Bodily Injury coverage. That is where you recover the rest of your damages. If we ever speak, I'll explain why it's important for there to be Bodily Injury coverage rather than hoping to collect from the owner individually.
If the other person does not have any or enough Bodily Injury coverage, then I hope you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage on your policy. There are some occassions where you can benefit from the UM coverage of a resident relative, too; but you'd have to examine the policies closely to know for sure.
Neither Bodily Injury nor UM pay your bills as they accrue. Those proceeds are hotly contested and are only paid, if ever, in a one-time lump sum at the final resolution of your claims.
This is just an overview of what you have coming your way on this situation. I know it may seem confusing, if you've never gone through this before. This is why I have a job, frankly.
Save all bills that get sent to your home (ambulance, hospital bills, radiology, ER physicians, towing and storage bills, etc.). If you're going to make a claim, do so quickly because evidence fades. Skid marks disappear, witnesses forget details, etc. If you're going to hire an attorney, do so quickly so the attorney can start to preserve evidence and send a message to the insurers that you're someone to be taken seriously. Good luck.
Dennis Phillips, Esq.
South Florida personal injury and wrongful death attorney
I'll assume that the person that hit you was determined to be at fault and was given a citation for this accident. If the person who hit you has insurance, then their insurance would pay for your car repair and for a rental car. Your insurance would not need to do anything unless the person you hit is not insured, or if the damage to your car exceeds the other person's coverage limits.
THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
The fact that the other driver has violated the traffic laws (running the light) should be helpful if you choose to pursue this claim; it should help to create an inference that the other driver is at fault.
Through your manditory PIP insurance you will be eligible for 80% of your medical costs (if any) and 60% of any lost wages; this portion of the claim will come regardless of fault.
From there you would also be able to make a claim against the other driver and their insurance (if any).
The long and short of this is that you will be entitled to make a claim for the damage to your vehicle and your injuries.
Feel free to give me a ring if you would like to char further about some things that can be done now to maximize a future settlement. Most lawyers (including myself) will not charge you for a consultation.
Best of luck,
I think the easiest answer to your question is if you have a good insurance agent to call that person. Your insurance agent should be able to explain to you what your options are and what damages are covered under the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. Regardless, review your insurance policy. If you do not have a good insurance agent or your insurance policy is difficult to understand, you may want to consult with an attorney who can explain all your options to you. Feel free to call my office.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow your doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to your medical records. Photograph your injuries and the damage done to any vehicle or other property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing.
I must respectfully disagree with my colleague, Mr. Hoffman. I suggest that you not have any substantive conversations with your insurance agent or adjuster from your own company without first consulting with an attorney. You may have a potential uninsured or underinsured motorist claim against your own carrier. Things which you may say to your own carrier, without the benefit of counsel, can potentially be used against you. No insurance company is your friend or good neighbor. The sole goal of any insurance company is to pay you nothing or as little as possible on any potential claim. You should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to insure proper advice is received.
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