Being involved in a car accident is an overwhelming experience, sometimes requiring years to recover from stress, personal injuries, and property damage.
Dealing with car insurance companies and navigating complex legal issues only adds insult to injury. Victims often have problems getting back on track, so understanding car insurance in Florida is vital.
This article will cover the most typical causes of car accidents, types of mandatory car insurance in Florida, tactics insurance companies use to deny or devalue your claim, and the court process that may ensue after a denial.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Driving a motor vehicle is always risky, but some typical causes of car accidents are predictable – being aware of them helps us avoid dangerous situations in traffic.
- Distracted driving
Driving any motor vehicle, including cars, requires high concentration and vigilance. Scrolling on your phone, texting, or making calls while driving can be fatal. It takes less than a second to cause a car accident with lethal consequences. Traffic is complex and interconnected, consisting of countless vehicles moving in various directions. To prevent accidents, each driver must contribute by staying focused and avoiding distractions.
- Disobeying traffic laws
Laws and regulations aim to ensure cars and other vehicles move on roads without endangering each other. Obeying traffic rules eliminates (or at least minimizes) the probability of car accidents. Following traffic lights, using indicators and signal lights, and safely moving between lanes contribute to safe and harmonious driving. On the other hand, ignoring those rules almost inevitably leads to accidents that can have profound consequences.
- Overconfident driving
Confidence is a trait of an experienced driver. However, overconfidence can prove fatal in the same way as a lack of confidence. Drivers who misjudge the speed of other vehicles or drive too close to them put themselves and others in risky situations that can lead to accidents. The same goes for overestimating the ability to stop, turn, or perform other traffic maneuvers.
- Drunk driving
Alcohol or drug consumption while driving (or before driving) is an offense that can put you behind bars. More importantly, it reduces your ability to operate a car or another motor vehicle and leads to accidents resulting in property damage, bodily injuries, or even death.
Speed limits are the maximum speed allowed on a specific road (which is not always the safest speed). Drivers must adjust their driving style to road, weather, and traffic conditions, never exceeding the maximum speed limit.
- Vehicle issues
In addition to the human factor, car accidents can occur due to technical issues such as vehicle malfunction. If your car does not meet basic technical requirements (proper brakes, tires, safety systems, etc.), you should refrain from going into traffic.
- Poor road conditions
One of the key factors contributing to safe traffic is road conditions. Poor road maintenance (ice, holes, lack of roadside barriers) is a leading cause of car accidents.
- Weather conditions
Severe weather conditions often cause car crashes, despite obeying traffic laws and operating a functional vehicle.
Types of Car Insurance and Minimum Coverage in Florida
Florida law requires drivers to get two mandatory types of third-party insurance:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Personal injury protection insurance covers the medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and burial costs resulting from a car accident. Car crash victims must undergo medical treatments (often requiring expensive operations, medications, etc.) and physical therapies. The PIP insurance covers the expenses of such treatments to a specific amount. Another type of compensation covered by this type of policy is lost wages. An injured person has the right to recover income they would have earned had they not sustained injuries in the car accident.
- Property Damage Liability (PDL) Coverage
Being involved in a car accident is strongly associated with property damage. Getting hit by another vehicle means you will probably need repair or car replacement. Sustaining property damage gives you the right to file a claim against another driver’s insurer seeking financial compensation.
In Florida, personal injury protection insurance (PIP) covers 80 percent of all necessary and reasonable medical costs (up to $10,000), regardless of who is at fault. Property damage liability coverage (PDL) is also limited to $10,000. Taxi vehicles must also have bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage of $125,000 per person and $50,000 PDL coverage.
Drivers in the Sunshine State must purchase an insurance policy from a carrier licensed to work in Florida and have continuous coverage throughout the registration period.
In addition to mandatory insurance policies (PIP and PDL), drivers can purchase other types of coverage:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Purchasing uninsured (underinsured) motorist insurance covers the damage drivers suffer in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance or whose insurance is insufficient to cover the damage.
- Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
This type of insurance covers the costs of bodily injuries others sustain in an accident resulting from your negligence. As mentioned, it is mandatory for taxi drivers.
- Comprehensive Coverage
Lastly, comprehensive coverage protects you from damage unrelated to car accidents (vandalism, theft, severe weather conditions, etc.).
Filing a Claim – What Do You Need to Know?
You had a car accident and wonder what to do next. The answer depends on whether there was another driver involved, as well as on the type of insurance coverage.
- Filing a claim against at-fault driver insurance carrier
Suffering injuries in an accident caused by another driver means you may claim compensation from their insurer. In Florida, you can seek compensation within four years, but the time is not on your side when proving damage and seeking compensation. To do it right, hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you gather evidence (witness statements, police reports, photographs, etc.). After receiving your claim, the insurance company’s adjuster will consider it and determine your case. The possible outcomes include accepting the claim (paying you the compensation you deserve), denying, or devaluing it.
- Seeking compensation from your insurance company
The situation is different when there is no one else involved. Comprehensive coverage allows you to file a claim with your insurer and seek redress. The process is similar – the claims adjuster will investigate the claim and decide whether or not you deserve compensation.
Tactics Insurance Companies Use to Deny or Devalue Car Accident Claims
If you sustained personal injuries or property damage in an accident caused by another driver, expect a call from their insurance company within the first days (or even hours) of the accident. Be careful what you say during that call. The claims adjustor will ask you how you feel and whether the damage is severe so they can acquire a recorded statement. For example, the adjustor will politely ask about your health and show genuine concern for your well-being. Most people naturally respond to kind gestures by letting their guard down. Saying that things are not that bad and that you will be all right is what they want to hear. An insurer will then use your recorded statement to minimize your injuries, attempting to deny or devalue your claim. Other methods include blaming you for the accident, delaying the process, etc.
Do not let such tactics deceive you. Instead of answering calls or communicating with the insurer, hire a car accident attorney and let them do all the talking.
Remember that insurance companies want to pay out as few claims as possible. Insurance carriers play a significant role in compensating car accident victims but never forget that their main motive is profits.
Going to Court
Filing a claim with the insurance company is the first step toward getting just compensation. On the other hand, the claims adjuster can contact you immediately after the accident before you even realize what happened (let alone assess the damage) – that is one of their tactics to get you into accepting unfavorable terms. An experienced attorney knows their methods and can help you negotiate fair settlement terms. Never go into negotiations alone because insurance companies will do anything to devalue or deny claims. When all settlement attempts fail, your next stop is a courtroom. Filing a lawsuit often remains your last option, so ensure you get representation from a well-versed attorney who can present your claim convincingly to the judge and jury, obtaining a favorable outcome.
- Car accidents are traumatic and devastating events leaving long-term consequences for our health and well-being.
- Although car crashes occur suddenly, we can do a lot to prevent them (by obeying traffic laws, avoiding drugs and alcohol while driving, etc.).
- Florida law knows two mandatory third-party liability coverages: personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
- Other types of coverage (non-mandatory) include uninsured (underinsured) motorist coverage, bodily injury liability coverage (BIL), and comprehensive coverage.
- Filing a claim against the insurance company requires the gathering of necessary evidence and presenting it to the claim’s adjustor.
- An attorney can help you negotiate favorable settlement terms because insurance carriers tend to deny or devalue compensation claims.
- If negotiations fail, going to court remains your last hope. You will need assistance from a well-versed car accident attorney with litigation experience to demonstrate supporting evidence for your claim.
Turn to Expert Car Insurance Attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Mark T. Stern is a top-notch car accident attorney, practicing law for two decades.
Mr. Stern knows the Florida car insurance system inside out and can help negotiate the best possible settlement terms with the insurance carrier. As a top-tier car insurance attorney, he will recognize when the insurance company is trying to devalue your claim and is ready to proceed with your case to court.
Applying sophisticated litigation skills, Mark will present your case persuasively and convincingly, leaving the judge and jury with only one choice – to grant you the compensation you deserve.
Mark is available at his Florida office at 4326 E. Tradewinds Ave Lauderdale by The Sea, FL 33308.