Auto accidents can change lives. While some accidents are relatively simple and obvious to settle when all of the material case factors clearly indicate fault for an accident, other very serious accidents can result in a long and frustrating settlement process when the responsible insurance company acts in bad faith in an attempt to lessen the value of a claim or avoid it altogether. Insurance company obligation to the claimant beyond paying the claim is limited, meaning that anyone seriously injured in an auto accident will need an aggressive and experienced personal injury attorney representing their claim. Never attempt handling a serious injury claim personally.
Potential Problems in No-Fault State Claims
Some accidents are simple enough that insurance companies will be cooperative after acknowledging the claim is valid following an investigation. It is important to remember that Florida is a “no fault” state, which means that injured accident victims will file first with their personal auto insurance policy company when submitting a claim. Even your own insurance company can be difficult when negotiating a settlement, including stalling benefit payments. No fault insurance means exactly what it says. Who is at fault does not matter in the initial claim process because the personal injury protection included in your policy, or PIP, is actually for you. However, it is not a bad idea to present the claim first or talk to the insurance adjuster from your company to get an idea of how difficult the company will be in settlement negotiations.
Bad Faith Negotiating Tactics by Insurance Companies
Injured claimants generally do not understand that insurance companies can expose themselves to additional liability when they act in certain manners regarding an injury claim. Luckily, attorneys do understand when this is happening and experienced attorneys know how to build a case against them.
Examples of bad faith actions include, but are not limited to:
Unreasonable claim denial
Failure to conduct a proper investigation into the claim
Purposely stalling a claim payment
Misrepresenting insurance protection limits
Refusing requests for documentation
Offering consistently low settlements
Delaying approval for medical treatments
Going to Trial
Even though the Florida auto accident claim protocol is designed for immediate medical coverage following an injury, the truth is that the cases can still become very complicated. If the insurance company cannot find a technicality to avoid paying the claim, they will then often attempt stalling or overtly avoid paying the full value of a claim when they think they can wait the claimant out because of a need for resources. These cases are the ones that will require actually filing a lawsuit and taking the case to an open jury trial. It is important to have a car accident lawyer who is willing to take a case to trial, even against your own insurance company, when they are attempting to defend the claim. In fact, as a requirement of law if you have an uninsured or under-insured coverage policy rider, the insurance company will actually provide the representation for the defense of a defendant as well when the case can qualify for an additional lawsuit based on extenuating factors.
When You Can Sue a Negligent Driver
Some accidents are very serious, resulting in catastrophic injuries, and certain injuries can establish standing to sue a negligent driver in Florida. When an injury involves serious disfigurement or scarring, or even a loss of a limb, extensive damages can be pursued from a negligent driver. In egregious cases, this can also include intentional acts by a negligent driver. Insurance companies in these cases regularly use comparative negligence law application to attempt reducing the claim value by increasing the level of fault assigned to the injured claimant. While this is not necessarily a bad faith tactic by the defense, it is still a serious point of contention in not only a settlement negotiation, but also in a trial that could reveal bad faith on the part of the insurance company. A truly professional attorney will be very aggressive in counter arguments to these claims, focusing on maximizing the value of the claim and making the client whole in financial recovery.
Product Liability Claims
Many auto accidents are the result of faulty manufacturing by parts producers that results in a malfunctioning of the component causing the crash. This is often an element of accidents that are relatively unexplained, as many accidents are settled based on participant recall or witness testimony. This can also reveal the potential for product malfunction. Manufacturers are held to strict liability rule concerning their products, and it is not necessary for your attorney to prove negligence by the manufacturer. However, these claims are always defended vigorously, and you will need solid representation to receive adequate compensation in all instances.
Contact The Doan Law Firm To Handle Your Accident Claim
Anyone in Florida who has been injured in an auto accident should contact us online or by phone at 1-786-671-0000 for a full free evaluation of your potential personal injury claim value. Those who would prefer to come see us can make an appointment to meet at our office in Miami at 801 Brickell Avenue, Suite 900. We take cases on contingency, and if we cannot recover damages there is no fee.