The following is a true story: There was once a Hispanic woman who was involved in an automobile accident with her two children. She was not considered at-fault for the accident, as she was T-boned at an intersection, but she did not speak any English and was beginning to accumulate medical expenses. Two days after being released from the hospital, a man from the other driver’s insurance company came to her door and offered her a $500 check to “help cover medications and doctor’s visits.” All she needed to do was a sign a release of liability waiver. Not understanding the nature of the waiver, the woman signed the document and waived all right to further compensation for her injuries.
Although this is an extreme example of the lengths insurance companies will go to in order to settle a valid claim, and an experienced Florida personal injury attorney can help to invalidate such waivers, do not assume that either your own or another driver’s insurance company has your bests interests at heart.
Types of Auto Insurance and Required Minimums
As you know, when you purchase an auto insurance plan you are required to do so in accordance with certain state compensation minimums. In Florida, you are required to carry the following minimum protections:1
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP);2
- $10,000 in property liability; and
- $10,000 in Bodily Injury Insurance if you have been convicted of a qualifying offense, such as a DUI.
- Further, you have the option of maintaining the following optional coverage:
- Collision, which pays for damage to your vehicle;
- Comprehensive, which pays for damage due to weather or theft;
- Uninsured and underinsured coverage; and
- Rental Car or Loan payment coverage.
While certain aspects of your insurance plan are designed to compensate you after an accident, such as repairs to your vehicle and payment of medical expenses under PIP, other aspects are designed to protect those you may have injured in an accident.
Nature of Insurance Company Settlements
Do not be fooled. Although you may be expecting your PIP insurance company to be “on your side” after an accident, most companies are concerned only with the bottom line. Accordingly, insurance adjusters may attempt to contact you and settle your case for a fraction of what it is worth before you are able to retain an attorney.
For example, after an accident, your PIP insurance company may offer you $1,000.00 to cover any potential medical expenses, but this is in exchange for waiving any further claims against the policy. At the time the offer is made, you may have no idea about the extent of your injuries and the therapy needed and the offer may be much lower than what your case is actually worth. This type of settlement is generally offered when you are making a claim under your own PIP policy or your uninsured motorist policy, in which you are seeking compensation from your own insurance company for your injuries because the other driver was either uninsured or did not carry enough insurance to cover your expenses.
Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Immediately After an Accident
In order to avoid being manipulated by either your own or another driver’s insurance company, it is essential that you contact a Florida personal injury attorney immediately after you have an accident. If you have retained an attorney, the insurance company is not legally allowed to contact you and all communication must go through your attorney. This provides you with the peace of mind to know that an experienced attorney will not allow your case to settle for less than it is worth. If you are located in the greater Clearwater area, do not settle your accident case without first contacting the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is your go-to personal injury firm in the Tampa Bay Area, and they will advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible. Call 727-451-6900 today for a free, no-risk consultation.