Florida Personal Injury Attorney
FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU ARE IN A CAR ACCIDENT:
1. Call the authorities. If anyone is injured, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, contact
the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (“JSO”) at (904) 630-0500
to report your accident. It is important to do so to ensure that you are
provided appropriate contact information from the other driver, including
his driver’s license number, insurance company/policy #, address
and phone number in order to efficiently process your claim for benefits.
Remember, even if you receive a citation, it is not admissible in civil
court (if you sue to recover damages) to prove the accident was your fault.
2. Florida is a limited no-fault liability state. This means that regardless
of who is at fault for the accident, each driver is responsible for obtaining
personal injury protection (P.I.P.) coverage, which insures the first
$10,000 worth of medical benefits and loss wages stemming from the accident.
PIP benefits generally pay 80% of medical expenses and 60% of your weekly
earnings (before deductions). As a result, you must prove your damages
exceed $10,000 in order to procure a recovery from the at-fault driver.
3. Most Florida Drivers are either under-insured or uninsured altogether.
Protect yourself by purchasing uninsured/under insured motorist (“UM”)
coverage. Um coverage is relatively inexpensive, and protects you when
the at-fault party doesn’t have enough insurance to pay your damages
after your PIP benefits have been depleted. Most insurance carrier will
allow you to purchase as much UM coverage as you have bodily injury (“BI”)
liability coverage (this protects you when you are at fault and cause
injuries to another person in excess of $10,000). In other words, if you
have $50,000 worth of BI coverage, you can purchase $50,000 of UM coverage.
4. You should not give a recorded statement. While your own insurance company
may require that you give a recorded statement pursuant to your coverage
agreement, you gain absolutely nothing and risk losing precious benefits
by giving a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance
company. If your opponent’s insurance company accepts liability
and agrees to pay for the damage to your car, it is not doing you a favor—this
is what insurance companies are supposed to do. Do not let them persuade
you that it is ok to give a statement.
5. Personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency basis. This means
you do not have to pay fees for attorney services unless the attorney
procures a recovery, so there is no risk for you to have an attorney.
If your case is one which settles before a lawsuit is filed (pre-suit
settlement), the attorney fee will be limited to 33&1/3% of the total
recovery obtained (you will also be responsible for paying litigation
costs advanced by your attorney). If a pre-suit settlement is not obtained
and it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, the
fee increases to 40%. At this point, the insurance company will transfer
the handling of the claim to an attorney to defend the at-fault driver.
Remember, insurance companies always have the benefit of legal advice
at their immediate disposal, and so should you!
If you are in a car accident or suffer an injury on someone else's
property, contact us. Let us evaluate the facts of your case and determine
who is liable. Florida law requires vehicle owners and property owners
to have at least $10,000 of insurance to cover medical, funeral, and disability
benefits regardless of fault.
If your damages exceed $10,000 then we will seek to recover the balance
from the person at fault while you are receiving medical care. If we are
unable to reach a settlement deal to avoid litigation, we will take the
responsible party to court on your behalf.