Frequently Asked Questions - Huge Mistakes Personal Injury Victims Make
After an auto accident, you are likely to be left with injuries. All accidents are different and you can sustain an array of different injuries which can affect the outcome of your claim. People tend to believe that the more injured you are, the more your case is going to settle for. In reality, your claim often depends on how much insurance coverage there is available to you. In the State of Florida, the only insurance requirement to have a legal insurance policy is personal injury protection at $10,000.00 and property damage at $10,000.00. Personal injury protection is a coverage you have on your own auto policy which covers you, anyone insured on your policy, your immediate resident relatives or anyone traveling in your vehicle at the time of an accident if they do not have their own personal injury protection source. Property damage covers payment to another vehicle or property damaged by you during an accident. The most important auto insurance coverage available is bodily injury coverage which is not mandatory in the State of Florida like it is in most other states. When you are injured in an auto accident, the first thing you should ask after your claim is opened is how much bodily injury coverage is available to you. This will determine how much medical treatment you can undergo. Some people believe that after an auto accident, you can automatically treat with a doctor and then the at fault insurance company has to pay you for your pain and suffering. On the contrary, the insurance company is only obligated to pay your damages based on the amount of coverage available. If there is no bodily injury coverage available and you treat with a doctor and run up a huge medical balance, once your personal injury protection has paid their portion, that balance is left for you to pay out of your pocket if there is no bodily injury coverage to settle your claim. If there is no bodily injury coverage, you can turn to your own insurance policy to see if you have any uninsured motorist coverage available to you. If you purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you can then pursue your injury claim through your own insurance company up to the policy limit you chose. This is the reason it is so crucial for your to know all applicable insurance coverages prior to starting any medical treatment regimen.
Another huge mistake personal injury victims make are not undergoing a surgical procedure if it is recommended. So many people forgo the surgery that they have bene recommended for in hopes that their pain will diminish over time, only to find that a few months down the road, their pain has significantly increased to the point where they have no choice but to undergo the surgery after all. If you have already settled your claim, you are forever bared from re-opening it as you will have had to sign a release stating you can never sue the insurance company or their insured for the same accident ever again. If you end up needing a surgery after your claim is already settled, the only thing you can do is pay for the surgery out of your own pocket or through your health insurance which will still require you to pay your costly co-pays. If you do not have health insurance or the money to pay for the surgery yourself, you will have no choice but to live with the excruciating pain for the rest of your life. Even if you are involved in a subsequent accident, you will likely not be able to undergo any type of surgical procedure at that point as the insurance company will ask you to produce the medical records from your prior accident which will link the need for surgery to that accident. If you do try to undergo the surgery for any accidents you are eventually involved in, it will likely be a long and costly litigation claim as the insurance company will probably deny the need for the surgery.
Settling your claim with the insurance company immediately is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Insurance companies will send someone out to your home or to speak with you and offer you a small cash settlement right away. Insurance companies do this because they know that if you are injured and you pursue an injury claim or hire a personal injury attorney to process your claim for you, they will be paying out thousands of more dollars towards your claim. They are trying to get you to take a quick settlement and sign a release stating you can never sue them again for the same accident. After you have signed this release, your case will be closed and any injuries you sustained in the accident will be your responsibility to take care of. Insurance companies like to be sneaky and try to get away with paying the least amount possible. If you feel you have sustained injuries from your auto accident, the best thing you can do for yourself is seek immediate medical treatment and the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will likely inform you that it is best to treat with a physician for the next few months to make sure that you did not sustain any significant injuries. If you do find that you have sustained permanent injuries or any special testing reveals internal injuries, the insurance company will be required to pay you for your pain and suffering. If you had settled your claim immediately with them for a few hundred dollars, you would still be left with significant pain and you would not be compensated for your pain and suffering.
After an auto accident, it is always in your best interest to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your injury claim and will likely advise you not to settle up front with the insurance company before pursuing all of your options.