Common Car Accident Questions

Some of The Common Questions People Ask When in a Car Accident

Why Do We Have to Make A Claim With The Insurance Company After a Car Accident?

If you have been in a car accident you must report the claim to your insurance company regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Many people assume that if they are not at fault, they only need to report to the other person’s insurance company. That is not true for several reasons. First, you have a policy with your auto insurance company. That policy is a contract. Every Florida auto insurance contract has a clause making it mandatory for you to report your accident. The insurance company wants to know if you have been in an accident because they use that information to adjust your insurance rates in the future. Second, your insurance company may have to pay medical bills that you incur under the current state of Florida Law called PIP. You need to report the accident to them, so the insurance company can get in touch with your medical providers, order records and bills and pay off your medical bills pursuant to your policy. Third, you may have Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage. If the other side does not have insurance or adequate coverage, you must put your carrier on notice of the accident so they can potentially pay you out for injuries and lost wages you sustained and then go after the uninsured at-fault driver and owner who caused your accident.

What Happens if the Insurance Company Totals Out Your Car and You Do Not Have GAP Insurance?

Once you buy a car and take it off the sales lot, your vehicle has lost value. If you finance the car, you will want to get insurance called GAP that covers the depreciated value and the loan amount, so you do not owe money if your car is in a wreck. For example, let’s say you buy a car for 10,000 dollars and take it home. You financed the entire ten thousand dollars because you did not want to put any cash into the deal. After you have been driving the car, the car is no longer worth 10,000. Even in a few months, your car’s value could be 7500 dollars, however, you may still owe 9500 dollars on the car because of the interest, principle and taxes. If you get into an accident, the other party at fault only must pay you the value of the car which in the example above is $7500 dollars. What are you going to do now? Your car is totaled, and insurance is only giving you $7500 and you owe $9500 to pay the loan? The difference between the loan amount and the actual cash value of your car is 2000 dollars. You are screwed unless you have GAP insurance. You can get insured for that difference, called the “GAP”, in advance of any potential accident so you do not owe any money for your car. Unfortunately, many people do not buy GAP insurance and they are surprised to learn that they can not get that “GAP’ from the person who caused the accident.

How Long Does This Process Take?

Most people ask this question. They assume the process will be quick and easy when often it is not. In many cases, it depends on how badly injured you are from a car accident. In Florida, there is a four-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. Yet a small case can sometimes take a month or two to resolve and a very serious one may take four years or longer! On average if you do not require surgery or major intensive treatment, your case should take no longer than six months to a year to settle. However, if the insurance company is not trying to resolve your claim fairly, your lawyer may have to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits can sometimes take 18 months to three years to resolve on average due to the court system being overburdened and many other cases like yours filed in front of you waiting to be resolved. Most importantly you want to get on with your life and not let this case hang over your head.

Who Pays for My Medical Bills And Lost Wages From Work?

Under Florida law, if you own a vehicle you will be covered under your PIP auto insurance policy for up to 10,000 in medical bills and lost wages. Your insurance company will typically cover up to 80 percent of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages. Your auto insurance is typically primary meaning, your insurance will pay first. The remaining balance of medical bills can be paid by your health insurance if you have otherwise met your deductibles. If you do not have health insurance, you can go after the at-fault driver or owner for the outstanding medical expenses. After you finish treating, your lawyer will submit a demand to the negligent driver and/or owner’s insurance company to either reimburse your health insurance company or your medical providers for any of the outstanding bills. Additionally, your lawyer will try to recover future damages for you, so you do not have to pay future medical bills related to your treatment.

How Do I Get to The Doctor’s Appointments Without A Car?

First, if you are in an accident you may be able to go to the negligent party and ask their insurance to put you into a rental car so you can get to your doctor’s appointments. Second, you may have rental insurance on your own policy and your insurance company can provide you money for a rental car. If you cannot obtain a rental, some medical providers provide transportation free of charge. In the worst case, you can use a taxi, Uber, Lyft or other public transportation. Then your lawyer will fight to get you reimbursed for what you paid out of pocket. It is very important that you log all your out-of-pocket expenses when it comes to transportation including mileage. Please realize that you do not get to have a rental car forever. The insurance companies will usually give you one to two weeks and then you will have to fight them to extend the rental in cases where you can not find another car or if repairs are taking longer than usual.

Why Do I Have to Use My Health Insurance if the Accident Was Not My Fault?

Your auto insurance pays first. However, you have health insurance that covers medical treatment regardless of how or why you got injured. If you do not use the medical insurance, your bills could go unpaid, ruin your credit and cause you to file for bankruptcy in the worst situations. You paid for health insurance to cover you no matter how you got sick or injured. Once health insurance does pay for your medical treatment, they will file a lien so they can be reimbursed if you collect settlement money from the other side. If you do not win or settle your case, then you will not owe your health insurance company any money. They only get paid if you get paid! A lawyer can negotiate the health insurance lien so you can put more compensation in your pocket.

How Much is an Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Going to Cost Me?

Well here is the good news. Lawyers who do this work do not charge flat or hourly fees. If you go to a lawyer for a family matter, you may need to pay them by the hour, or a flat amount called a retainer. You also need to pay the costs and expenses of litigation as it goes along. In a car accident case, you do not need to worry about paying any lawyer fees or costs upfront. The lawyer advances the costs and his or her time upfront without you paying anything out of pocket. If the case settles, then the lawyer typically will charge a contingency fee of 33 percent if a claim, and 40 percent if a lawsuit has been filed and litigated. The lawyer also pays your costs and fees to order medical records, hire experts, and conduct investigations. You pay nothing unless the attorney can settle your case. If you lose, the lawyer also loses his fees and costs! This type of fee is called a contingency fee and the lawyer only gets paid and reimbursed if he or she wins your case!

How Much is My Case Worth?

This is a loaded question. You can look up that question on the internet and many law firms will have a “calculator” to help you determine what your case is worth. Hold on! Does that sound too good to be true? YES!! Each case has a different value. Yes, there are some typical settlement ranges depending on what type of injury you suffer from, but it is so different from case to case. If you have a broken bone, traumatic brain injury or surgery, your case is going to be valued higher than if you treated with a chiropractor or a physical therapist alone. Cases involving future economic loss also drive up higher values. For example, perhaps you cannot drive a truck or do your job because your injuries prohibit you from functioning well at your job or maybe you will be forced to take early retirement. Economic losses can be calculated using experts and often are worth in excess of a million dollars or much more. If you lost a loved one or suffered paralysis from a truck or car crash and will require lifetime care, those cases can be worth even more than seven figures depending on the insurance coverages available. What is often unsaid to clients is that the values of cases may not matter if the driver or owner who caused the accident does not have adequate insurance coverage.

Why Will My Primary Care Doctor or PCP Refuse to See Me After My Car Accident?

This is unfortunate because you likely trust your primary care doctor to take care of you. PCP docs are the first to see you for many medical conditions and injuries. Why not after a car wreck? The truth is that most primary doctors in Florida do not like or understand how Florida law works for car accident cases. These great doctors usually bill out health insurance and already have a tough time getting reimbursed in many cases. The primary doctors do not know how to bill the auto insurance and believe that car accident patients may only be looking only for money or have some greedy ambulance chaser or lawyer working with them. Let’s be honest who loves lawyers? However, doctors do exist who are willing to face lawyers and deal with the complex medical-legal issues involved in these types of auto crashes. They will treat car accident patients in order to help them get better. Sometimes you need to know where to ask.

Is My Insurance Going to Go Up Because Of My Car Accident?

Many people believe in error that if they get into an accident and their insurance company pays their medical bills, they will face increased insurance rates. If you were not at fault for the accident your insurance company or any other one licensed in the state of Florida may not raise your rates! Too many injured people do not get the medical care they need because of this lie that is floating around the internet! If an insurance company raises your rates due to an accident wherein you are not responsible, you can report them to the Department of Insurance!

What Makes Orlando, Florida Unique About Car Accidents Cases?

The number one reason Orlando is uniquely different than many other towns or cities regarding motor vehicle accidents is the number of tourists that come visit each year from every state in the USA and country in the world. In some years, over 75 million visitors come to Orlando to visit Disney World, Universal Studio, SeaWorld, Lego, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, Volcano Bay, and many other places. There are over 120,000 hotel rooms in Orlando and tourists do not like to use Florida’s mass transport because we are sadly lacking in great train options. So, people drive, and they are not familiar with our laws and sadly many accidents occur. Tourists are often:

  1. Distracted looking at their navigation systems
  2. Not familiar with the areas they are going
  3. Not familiar with local driving customs
  4. Distracted by the constant building and construction
  5. Texting and driving

Second, Orlando is one of the most desired places in the United States to live and raise a family. As a result, you have over 300, 000 thousand people move to Florida each year and many of them come to live in Orlando. New people from other states have the same issues as tourists. Additionally, to accommodate the increased population growth, Orlando is in a constant state of growth. Growth means construction and construction mean new and changing traffic patterns including new and modified roads and highways. Constant construction and changing traffic patterns are a recipe for increased automobile accidents as drivers are not familiar with the changes that come almost weekly in Orlando.

Orlando is a great place to live, work and play. As a result, we have a tremendous number of tourists, new visitors and residents alike using our roadways. As Florida does not have a good train system, we rely upon motor vehicles to get around and therefore it is likely we will continue to have problems with motor vehicle accidents until we develop more alternative transportation options.

How A Car Accident Claim Is Investigated

If you get into an accident in Orlando, a police officer may have written up a report and even gave the other side a ticket. However, the police are busy and never do enough to document fault or liability in an accident. Many clients complain that the Florida Highway Patrol, Orlando Police Department or Orange County Sheriff is too busy to fully investigate the car accident scene. They complain that the police try to wrap up their investigation sometimes in less than fifteen minutes!

Even if police find the other side at fault, insurance companies sometimes still argue over who caused the accident. Those arguments can lead to delay in getting your car fixed or getting compensation for the injuries you suffered. Good law firms will use investigators to obtain witness statements, photograph scenes of large crashes and even go out and examine and videotape the vehicles involved in a crash. In some trucking cases, an investigator will go out to gather the following information:

  • The exact location where the accident occurred
  • The time and date of the crash
  • Find out who called in and reported the crash
  • Document the weather conditions that existed at the time
  • Photograph the property damage to the vehicles involved
  • Document any debris in the location of the accident such as tires and other parts of the automobile
  • Take pictures of tire treads or skid marks or any signage in the area
  • Measure distances
  • Interview any witnesses of the surrounding business
  • Obtain any street or business video of the crash or scene

In larger cases, experts will be retained to examine commercial vehicles and trucks that have caused serious injuries. These experts may take measurements, perform advanced mathematical calculations and identify and evaluate crash evidence. In some cases, lawyers will buy the vehicles if they are scrapped to preserve the evidence in serious cases. Lawyers and their investigators will often videotape and photograph client’s injuries including bruising, cuts and scarring. In more serious cases, an investigator may be employed to video document a client undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitation. Often a good investigation is the difference between winning your case or getting no compensation at all.

What Do Next If I Was Injured in Car Accident By A Drunk Driver

If you were in a car crash that is bad enough. If you were in a car accident caused by a drunk driver that is worse. Drunk Drivers usually had a choice before getting behind a wheel of a vehicle. They can use uber, call a friend or a taxi to get home. In Orlando, we have a booming nightclub business where our professionals and college kids like to party. Additionally, we have plenty of places in Orlando where Tourists come to hang out and have fun. Unfortunately, all that partying sometimes comes with tragedy.

If you are a victim of a car accident case caused by a drunk driver, you may suffer emotional, physical, and economic damages. You also may get stressed out because you not only have to deal with insurance companies to get your car fixed, medical providers to start healing from your physical injuries but now you may need to deal with prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers in the criminal justice system. In most DUI accident cases, the defendant is arrested and he or she will seek the help of a lawyer right away to help minimize the damages or get the DUI case dropped. The victim, whether a driver or a passenger in a car involved in a drunk driving accident has no lawyer to help represent them as a victim in the criminal justice system. As a result, you may get calls from the state or district attorney and be confused about what they want from you. Usually, the prosecutor wants:

  • To discuss how the accident happened
  • To determine if you observed if the defendant was drunk
  • To find out if you are able and willing to testify against the defendant
  • To determine if you are entitled to restitution

The prosecutor is very busy handling other cases and may not be able to spend much time with you at all. Often the prosecutor will not tell you what the court process involves, leaving you anxious and scared even though you are not the one charged with a crime! The DUI prosecutor may not have time to prepare you for the defendant’s hearing or trial and then you are facing the criminal defense lawyer, judge and jury without adequate preparation! You may just be confused about the whole process because you are not the one in trouble, yet you have no idea what is going to happen to the drunk driver.

To make matters worse, the drunk driver’s criminal lawyer may contact you. They may call you to ask questions about whether you observed their client drunk, driving or how they performed on the roadside tests. The criminal lawyer may ask you if you agree to charges being dropped!!

You are already likely stressed out about medical bills, lost wages and dealing with insurance companies and then you add onto that the criminal justice system and it’s no wonder you may start getting upset and angry! Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) were formed to support victims of drunk driving but often they are very busy and may not always be available in your time of need. However, there are some fine MADD advocates and you should reach out to them if you need services to help you through this time.

A car accident lawyer who focuses on drunk driving car accidents can also be helpful to you. We have former prosecutors who have handled criminal DUI cases and are now suing drunk drivers for the injuries they cause. A Lawyer who sues drunk drivers can:

  • Obtain the police report
  • Obtain the video evidence the defendant was drunk
  • Work with prosecutors to get you restitution
  • Work with the criminal defense lawyers to negotiate more money for you
  • Investigate the crime scene and collect witness statements
  • Document your injuries
  • Make sure the prosecutors tell you about the defendant’s upcoming court dates
  • Make sure your car gets fixed or properly valued if totaled out
  • Make sure you get medical treatment
  • Protect you from nasty criminal defense attorneys who like to harass you
  • Make sure that the insurance company does not try to offer you a low cash settlement
  • Putting all insurance companies on notice of the claim and your intent to recover losses
  • Gathering all insurance information so you are aware of the policy limits
  • Represent you at a sentencing hearing and tell the judge how this accident impacted your life
  • Obtain compensation for your lost wages
  • Get your medical bills paid
  • Obtain punitive damages so you can put more compensation in your pocket
  • Explain the civil and criminal process so you do not have to stress anymore

How Can a Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?

Is that even possible? We have lawyers who represent drunk drivers in criminal cases and sue other drunk drivers in personal injury matters. How does that help you? You may be asking why would I hire a personal injury lawyer who represents other drunk drivers? The same reason you would hire an ex-president to lobby for your company or an ex-prosecutor if you were in trouble with the law! If a lawyer understands both sides because they have been on both sides, they are able to think about what the other side wants and needs and that helps you get compensated more! When you are injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver you want justice, and you want to be fairly compensated for the physical injuries and mental anguish you suffered. The person who caused the accident usually wants to get a better deal and stay out of jail. We know this and we use our experience to your benefit. If the drunk driver’s insurance company wants to lowball us, they stand to risk a lot during the criminal process because we know our clients will not be happy until justice is done. By understanding both sides we can aggressively pursue getting you compensated fairly and making sure that any justice given to the defendant will consider whether you were rightly made whole from your accident.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, consult with an attorney who can discuss the legal rights you have as a victim. Your lawyer can deal with all the insurance companies and lawyers involved and act as a liaison between you and the prosecutor to get the justice that you deserve.

I Was A Passenger in A Car Accident and Injured What Can I Do to Get Help?

You may not have been driving a car but simply just a passenger minding your own business when either your driver or another person driving another car caused an accident. You are entitled to the same rights as a driver of a car who was injured as a result of a horrible car accident. If you own a car, you will first need to notify and open a claim with your automobile insurance company. Why? Yes even if you were not driving or in your own car, you still have to open a claim with your company so they can begin to pay your medical expenses if you are injured as a passenger in a car accident. If you do not have a car or live in a family who has a vehicle you can open a claim with the driver of the car you were in. You are not suing that driver now, but Florida law allows for that driver’s insurance company to take care of some of your medical bills. If you were riding in a friend’s car do not worry about their insurance rates. If they were not at fault you can make a claim for medical and lost wages under their insurance PIP policy and not worry about your friend’s insurance rates going up. You stand an even better chance at recovering just compensation for your injuries because no one can blame you for the accident because you were not driving! You can go after the other driver’s insurance if they were at fault or even against the driver and owner of the car you were in if they were at fault. Remember you did nothing wrong and now must deal with pain and suffering due to injuries you sustained in the car accident as an innocent passenger.

Sometimes you may be in a difficult situation and may not be able to
defuse the situation without going to court.