Most car accidents are caused by another driver’s negligence, such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, or driving and texting. If you are injured in a car accident, you will more than likely need to pursue a claim against the other driver even though Florida is a “no-fault” state. Understandably, many accident victims are reluctant to take this step. In other cases, the other driver’s negligence may have been so egregious that their victims are eager to file suit. Whichever side you may be on, it is important to understand the behind-the-scenes dynamics of your case and how your claim will be handled. For this reason, you should strongly consider working with an experienced car accident lawyer if you have been injured in a car accident. 

Understand the Role of Insurance

Like every other state, Florida requires that all drivers carry insurance that includes minimum coverage. Florida’s minimums are $10,000 for property damage liability and $10,000 for any injuries caused. Drivers may elect to purchase additional coverage such as uninsured/underinsured (UIM) insurance or a bodily injury liability (BIL) policy. While many, if not most, drivers carry the minimum coverage, the end result is that almost every driver on the road carries insurance. Without insurance, injured drivers would be required to pursue claims against at-fault drivers who likely would not be able to pay for the harm they have caused. 

Understand the Role of Your Insurance Company

Florida is one of only a few states where, regardless of fault, an injured driver would make a claim under their own policy. When you submit your claim to your insurance company, they will investigate the accident and your losses and then determine what compensation you are entitled to receive. In a sense, therefore, your first opponent is your insurance company if they attempt to settle your claim for less than it is worth. 

Understand the Role of The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

If an injured driver’s claim exceeds the minimum coverage of their claim, they can then pursue a claim for their remaining losses against the other driver. Because $10,000 does not provide much coverage when it comes to today’s costs, many drivers must go this route. 

While your claim is technically against the other driver, the claim will be mostly handled by their insurance company. In fact, you likely will have little to no communication with the other driver. When you purchase insurance, you agree to let the insurance handle your claim. As a result, their insurance company will decide how to handle your claim and, ultimately, will be responsible for compensating you for your losses if it is determined that their driver was negligent. 

Again, the benefit here is that injured drivers are more likely to recover the compensation they deserve. Most people do not have thousands of dollars to pay unexpected and unplanned expenses. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the claim process will be easy. Injured drivers should expect the other driver’s insurance company to take a much more adversarial role than their own insurance did when submitting a claim under their policy. The claim process isn’t easy, and the other driver’s insurance company will try to settle your claim for as little as possible. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate the process. 

Know Your Opponent’s Tactics

At this point, it should be clear that your opponent isn’t the other driver as much as it is their insurance company. As a result, it is important to know what to expect when pursuing your claim. 

Quick Settlement Offers

Many people are surprised by how quickly the insurance company will offer to settle their case. They assume that this is a good thing - their driver was obviously negligent, and so you rightfully deserve compensation for your losses. Unfortunately, this is often an attempt to settle your claim for far less than what it is worth. Insurance companies move quickly to settle claims before injured drivers know or understand the full extent of their losses. Once the driver accepts the settlement, they release the insurance company from any further or future liability. The best thing to do is to discuss any settlement offer you receive with a car accident lawyer before you make a decision. 

Requiring a Recorded Statement

Anything you say to an insurance company representative can be used against you. They will try to get you to contradict yourself or make statements that create inconsistencies or raise questions concerning your original statements. As a result, you should be extremely careful anytime you talk to the insurance company. If they want you to give a recorded statement (including submitting something in writing), politely decline and tell them that you would like to consult with a car accident lawyer before you do that. 

Signing an Authorization to Obtain Your Medical Records

The insurance company will ask you to grant them authorization to obtain your medical records. While this saves you the inconvenience of getting your records and forwarding them, the reality is that the authorization allows the insurance company access to all of your medical records. This means that they will obtain medical records unrelated to your accident, which they may then attempt to use against you. If the insurance company is pressuring you to sign a medical records authorization, we recommend that you contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. 

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact Powell, Powell & Powell Today

Powell, Powell & Powell has been serving the Crestview, Fort WaltonDefuniak Springs, Destin, and Niceville communities since 1951. We understand the challenges you face and know how to get the compensation our clients deserve. If you have been injured in a car accident and don’t know what to do, we can help. Call us today at 850-682-2757 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation - we will review your case, provide an estimate of what it may be worth, and explain your options.