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Car Accidents Frequently Asked Questions

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Our experienced vehicle accident lawyers from Daytona Beach, Florida, answered the most frequently asked questions about car accidents.

The Florida Legislature passed a law many years ago requiring that insurance companies advise you of your right to underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage when buy your automobile liability insurance. This type of coverage is referred to as “UM.” A UM policy is insurance that you buy that covers you in the amount of your normal liability policy in the event you are injured by a driver who either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance coverage to pay you for your injury and medical expenses incurred in an accident. The Florida Legislature long ago decided that it would not require Florida drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance to pay for their negligence in injuring other drivers. We believe this is a major mistake and does not protect the Florida driving public. Nonetheless, it is the law. Because there are so many drivers without adequate insurance on the Florida highways, the legislature requires the insurance company to notify you of your right to obtain UM coverage and they must do so in writing. Therefore, your insurance company will ask you to sign a paper acknowledging that you have been notified of your rights by the company and declining the insurance if you wish to do so. We strongly recommend that you purchase UM coverage when you buy your auto insurance coverage.

A more detailed discussion on who is covered under your UM policy is located here. The following are some of the people covered under your UM policy: spouse, relatives living with you, people you lent your car to and passengers in the car at the time of the accident. For more information about your accident call (386) 210-3720.

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you are a pedestrian or a bicyclist and you are hit by a car, your medical bills should be submitted to your own car insurance company even though you weren’t in a car. So, if you have health insurance, you don’t send the bills initially to your health insurance company, you don’t have to go through a primary care doctor in order to see a specialist.

The best auto insurance company is difficult to identify, but the worst are easy to spot. The American Association for Justice recently published a thorough report on the Ten Worst Insurance Companies. They are:

  1. Allstate
  2. Unum
  3. AIG
  4. State Farm
  5. Conseco
  6. WellPoint
  7. Farmers
  8. United Heath
  9. Torchmark
  10. Liberty Mutual

One of the most common types of car accident injuries is whiplash. This isn’t a medical term, but it is real and it can be difficult to treat properly. In cases of whiplash, the muscles and tendons of your neck suffer injury. Collisions from the rear can cause the neck to move and flex at an unnatural angle and with great speed, which often results in injury. In some cases, you might need to use a neck brace, or even have massage therapy on your neck. Rest is also ideal for helping to heal from whiplash. Back injuries can occur in a car accident as well. No matter what type of work you do on a daily basis, a back injury will affect your performance and your ability to do your job. It can also cause issues with your social life. Some of the common types of back injuries that you might face include sprains and strains. In addition, it’s possible to break the spine. Brain injuries can be most severe, resulting in coma and even death. While severe brain injuries might be easily identifiable after a car accident, other brain injuries might go unnoticed. A slight bump on the head in a car accident might not be enough to make you even think you need to see a doctor. However, such injuries can be deadly. You might have internal hemorrhaging, which can cause fatal swelling and pressure on the brain. Many other types of injuries can occur as well. Broken bones and nerve damage can occur. Lacerations, bruising, and more are common as well. You might also suffer from psychological issues that could cause stress through the rest of your life. If you’ve been in an accident, and someone else was at fault, get the advice of an attorney you trust. Not every attorney is the right one for your case. Learn a little about the attorney you are considering to ensure you’re making the right choice. Come discover the client first promise at Zimmet & Zimmet.

If you have been in a car accident and you suspect you have a cervical disc herniation, you should learn about your injury to make informed medical decisions. The spine is broken into segments for labeling purposes. The neck area is called the cervical spine. The mid-back area is called the thoracic spine. The lower back area is called the lumbar spine. The tail bone is called the sacrum. Each of these sections is comprised of vertebrae, nerves and disks. The disk is the soft material that lies between the bones or vertebrae. The disks act as a cushion or shock absorber that decreases the stress between the bones and allows for neck movement. These disks, when injured, can tear or rupture and the disk can herniate or bulge outward. The severity of the protrusion will dictate the recommended course of treatment. The disks can bulge to the point where they push on the nerves in the spinal column which can lead to paralysis. This is why timely and appropriate diagnosis and treatment after a car accident is critical.

PIP Insurance may pay 80% to 100% of your medical expenses depending on the policy and also 60% of any wage loss that you may have as a consequence of the injuries from the accident. Beyond that, if you’re injured in an accident, you can bring a lawsuit for the balance of your injuries, lost wages, medical expenses and future medical expenses or future wage loss. You may also make a claim for disruption in your lifestyle if you have a very significant injury.

Pedestrian accidents are a little different than auto accidents with two or more motor vehicles. Florida Statute 316.130 outlines traffic regulations that apply to pedestrians in Florida. It is important to know what the rules are if you or a loved one has been hit. Click here for a more detailed discussion on pedestrian accidents. If the pedestrian violates one or more of these traffic laws then the insurance company may try to blame the pedestrian for their own injuries. It is important to know that even if the pedestrian violates a traffic law the driver of the vehicle may still share in the fault because Florida statute 316.130(15) states that every driver of a motor vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian regardless of whether or not the pedestrian violated any traffic law.

After a car accident, you are likely to have two major areas of disagreement with your insurance company. The first is the value of your car if it is totaled. You are going to need money to buy a new car. The second is how much you should be compensated for pain and suffering you incurred from the accident. The insurance company makes its decisions solely on whether it is good for their business. The company will want to pay the smallest amount possible and is not likely to care about your needs except as they relate to a good business decision. In fact, many of the decisions insurance companies make are based on a computer program that suggests a payment amount rather than a human being. When you negotiate with an insurance company adjusters, unless you are very knowledgable about insurance practices, it may be easy for them to take advantage of unsuspecting injured parties. You can expect the first offer of payment is not likely to be the last offer. However, if you accept the first offer, the claim is over and you will be required to sign papers that keep you from reopening your claim if you later discover there are additional expenses. We find all too often that information about expenses and pain and suffering are not always available right at the beginning of a case. Therefore, we almost always suggest the case not be settled at the beginning unless there is some other compelling reason to settle.

Confirm this with your specific insurance agent to be sure. However, uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage should be the same thing in your policy. If you do not already have it, for additional information about car insurance, request our book “Buying Auto Insurance” at our Florida Accident Attorney website. Just scroll down the homepage for the link to the order form.

If you have been in a Car Accident and suspect that you may have a disc bulge or herniation there are a variety of different treatments depending on the severity of your disc bulge or herniation. There are many different conservative treatments available as well as surgical treatments. Conservative treatments include exercise, medication, physical therapy, injections, chiropractic care and rest among others. If conservative treatment is not successful in relieving the pain symptoms, surgical options include removal of the damaged disk, decompression of the nerve roots and spinal cord and a fusion of the vertebrae to stabilize the spine. Consult a physician ( make sure it is the right type of physician) for the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

There is a general rule that a person injured in a car accident in Florida cannot seek benefits from both the Bodily Injury and Uninsured Motorist portions of the same policy. The Florida Supreme Court has decided that even though Florida Statute 627.727(3)(b) defines “uninsured motor vehicle” to include an insured motor vehicle covered by a vehicle covered by bodily injury limits less than the injured parties damages, it does not mean that the passenger can be eligible for benefits from both the bodily injury and Uninsured motorist coverages. This is the case because most automobile insurance policies exclude the insured motor vehicle from the definition of the uninsured motor vehicle. There is a limited exception to the general rule. In cases where a passenger is injured by the combined negligence of the host driver and the driver of a second uninsured vehicle, the injured passenger can seek liability coverage from the negligent host drivers policy and also uninsured motorist coverage from the same policy with respect to the claim against the other negligent, uninsured driver.

If you have been involved in a car accident there is a possibility for a lot of different injuries. Some can be seen immediately and some can be visible after a few days. Nerves damage in a car accident can occur in a variety of ways, resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling. This kind of injury can and will affect your life, so if you have symptoms like this, it is very important to seek medical help.

Evaluating what a car accident case worth is very tricky and should not be done without consulting an attorney who handles car accident cases. Every case is different and the individual circumstances of each case must be taken into account when evaluating value. However, the following are a few things to consider: who was a fault and at what percentage, what was the property damage, what are the injuries, was the injured person wearing a seatbelt, what are the medical bill totals, what are the lost wages both past and future, has the been a surgery or is a surgery scheduled, what will the surgery cost, are there any preexisting medical conditions, will the injured person make a good witness, was the injured person married and how has that injured person’s life been affected. If you have questions about these factors to consider when evaluating the value of a personal injury case, don’t hesitate to contact us.

This is actually the type of question we get often in our car accident practice. Our clients want to know how much money they should get from the driver who caused the accident. Of course, it is different from one case to the next and no case is the same. However, the short answer is bad news. Your case is worth more if you have been seriously injured. The more serious your injuries, the more your case is worth and the more the insurance company for the other driver should pay. That is bad news, of course, because so far in my 36 years of being a lawyer I have yet to meet somebody who wants to be seriously injured. Our clients always choose health over money. Sometimes when I tell clients the good news that they are not seriously injured and their case is not worth a lot of money, they will say, “Well what about the fact that the other driver caused the accident?” Our judicial system is simply not set up to give large sums of money to people who have been in accidents just because the other driver is at fault. In fact, in Florida we have an insurance system in place that provides for payment of up to $10,000.00 worth of medical expenses from your own insurance even if you are not at fault. So, I tell our clients, just because the other driver is at fault does not mean the insurance company should pay them a lot of money. The driver’s carelessness or negligence must cause injury. The more serious the injury the more money should be paid. This is because more serious injuries require much more medical care and expense and are much more likely to cause permanent and terrible pain and a drastic change in the quality of your life. It is good news that your case is worth only a little bit because you will not have to spend a long time in the hospital, you will not need medical care for the rest of your life and you will be able to continue leading a normal life without disabilities. However, if you are seriously injured, you should be compensated for your medical expenses, for your pain and for the change in the quality of your life.

The most important thing you can do after an accident is to be sure you are safe and that you get the medical treatment you need. If you have been in a serious accident even if you do not think you are seriously injured, we recommend that you get a medical check-up as soon as possible. Sometimes, medical injuries are not readily apparent at the scene of the accident and show up later. When determining whether you have to talk to the insurance company, it is important to ask, “Which insurance company?” You have a duty to cooperate in the defense of a case with your own insurance company. You do not have to cooperate with other drivers’ insurance companies. Your own insurance policy will contain a provision requiring you to cooperate with them. However, you are not bound by other drivers’ the insurance policies. Right after an accident you may not be in the best position to accurately describe what happened. Your perception of the accident may be confused because of injuries. You may not remember every thing right away. Therefore, we recommend you make sure you are medically safe before even calling your own insurance company. If we represent you, we will assist you in reporting the accident to your insurance company. Representatives of the other drivers’ insurance companies will likely want to talk to you about the events. You do not have to give a statement to the other company. The other driver’s insurance company is not likely to have your best interests at heart. In fact, the interest of the insurance company is to resolve the matter as quickly as possible with either no payment or a very small payment even before you know what your full injuries may be. Therefore, we recommend that if you are going to give a statement to the other insurance company, you do so only after we have had an opportunity to discuss the facts of the case with you to make sure you give an accurate statement. And then, only if it is in your best interest to give a statement at all.

As an attorney handling auto accident cases, I often see the tragedy of people injured with little or no insurance to pay for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages. Sometimes I see the opposite. Sometimes I see people injured in accidents that have multiple insurance policies that provide the same benefits to people injured in car accidents. How the injured person handles these insurance policies sometimes can result in thousands of dollars of difference in their auto claims. One example of this is when a person is injured in a car accident while in the course and scope of his or her employment. In this situation, the injured worker often has workers compensation benefits available and Personal Injury protection benefits. The decision of which policy to use depends on each case because every factual situation is different. Both Policies offer benefits for lost wages and medical expenses. One major difference between the policies is that PIP or personal injury protection does not have a lien on any future Bodily Injury settlement. This is important because if a settlement is reached with the Bodily injury carrier, the workers compensation carrier will ask to be reimbursed for the money they have spent. PIP will not. It is also important to know that an injured person can use the PIP benefits to pay the workers compensation lien. If you have questions about this topic or any other personal injury question, don’t hesitate to call us at (386) 210-3720

The short answer here is yes but not always. Here are the typical circumstances in which a question like this occurs: You are injured seriously in a car accident which was caused by the negligence of the other driver. Then, later on in the hospital where you are being treated for the injuries from the accident a doctor injures you further due to the doctor’s negligence. For example, in a leading Florida case, a woman suffered orthopedic injuries in a car accident but during the surgery to repair the damage, the doctor accidentally severed a carotid artery causing severe neurological disability. The court decided that when a person suffers personal injury by reason of another’s negligence; the negligent person is liable for any additional harm and expense caused by the negligence, mistakes or lack of skill of an attending physician or surgeon who is treating the injuries. However, what if while in the hospital recovering from the injuries caused by the car accident a plastic surgeon does a facelift and causes nerve damage during that operation? The nerve damage from the facelift is not related to the car accident and therefore you would not be able to sue the driver for that injury. Florida law is that people who are negligent are only liable for injuries they proximately cause.

There is a general rule that a person injured in a car accident in Florida cannot seek benefits from both the Bodily Injury and Uninsured Motorist portions of the same policy. The Florida Supreme Court has decided that even though Florida Statute 627.727(3)(b) defines “uninsured motor vehicle” to include an insured motor vehicle covered by a vehicle covered by bodily injury limits less than the injured parties damages, it does not mean that the passenger can be eligible for benefits from both the bodily injury and Uninsured motorist coverages. This is the case because most automobile insurance policies exclude the insured motor vehicle from the definition of uninsured motor vehicle. There is a limited exception to the general rule. In cases where a passenger is injured by the combined negligence of the host driver and the driver of a second uninsured vehicle, the injured passenger can seek liability coverage from the negligent host drivers policy and also uninsured motorist coverage from the same policy with respect to the claim against the other negligent, uninsured driver.

The law in Florida requires that if a minor under the age of 18 rides in the bed of a truck he or she must be restrained. The truck must be modified in such a way to include secure seating and safety restraints to keep the passenger from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the truck. This law does not apply to adults over the age of 18. Adults are allowed to ride unrestrained in the bed of a pickup truck. There is the law and there is common sense. Even though it is allowed in Florida to ride in the bed of a pickup truck, it is far safer to ride inside the passenger compartment. There are always extenuating circumstances that could make this untrue, but as a general rule at least attempt to ride inside the passenger compartment. If you are involved in a crash your chances of survival and avoiding serious injury are greatly reduced if you are restrained and inside the passenger compartment of the truck or car.

Most likely yes. Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine says just that. You, as the owner of a motor vehicle, car, motorcycle, even golf cart, are liable for injuries caused by the negligence of someone you allowed to drive your vehicle. As of this writing, the question was in Florida’s courts of whether all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) qualified under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It is my guess that ATVs will be considered dangerous instrumentalities, but we will have to wait and see what the courts hold.

Yes, improperly designed airbags and restraint systems can cause airbag injuries and even kill car occupants involved in a wreck. Airbags must be fully inflated before the crash victim’s head and torso impact the airbag. Airbags inflate at up to 200mph so if a person’s body reaches the airbag before it is fully inflated, the rapidly moving airbag can cause serious injury to the body part it contacts.

Yes. You can develop post traumatic arthritis from a car accident. Particularly if the injury occurs in an articulating joint. The ankle is the most susceptible for the development of post traumatic arthritis. For more information on post traumatic arthritis click here. If you settle your auto accident case without determining if you are at a greater risk for developing post traumatic arthritis, you are doing yourself a disservice.

It’s common sense, right? If somebody is injured in an auto accident, it should be the at-fault person’s responsibility to pay for all the medical bills caused by his or her negligence. At Zimmet & Zimmet we believe that the person who causes an accident should be responsible for both past and future medical bills, as well as every other type of damage, caused. Unfortunately, because of some Florida statutes and court rulings, it doesn’t always turn out the way it should. You may be surprised to know that your own insurance company pays for 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000, as long as you go see a medical doctor within 14 days following the accident.Who Pays for My Medical Expenses From a Car Accident That Was Not My Fault After that, your own health insurance company will start to pay if your treatment goes over the $10,000 limit. But your health insurance company is not the primary company to pay bills caused by an auto accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is the primary payer.

If you are seriously hurt in a car accident that is not your fault, your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company are responsible for paying your medical expenses and compensation for changes in your quality of life. The problem is that the more the insurance company pays the less profit it makes. Therefore if you have to file a lawsuit to get the company to treat you fairly, the insurance company will hire a lawyer to do everything possible to pay as little as possible.What does Facebook have to do with my car accident Regardless of how nice you are and how seriously you are injured, the lawyer will look for ways to discredit you and your claim. If the lawyer can demonstrate that you have not been entirely truthful about anything at all related to the lawsuit, it is highly unlikely that the insurance company will have to pay you a large amount. Jurors who think you have not been honest will not believe your testimony about what happened, about your pain and suffering and are much less likely to like you. This all adds up to pay you less or perhaps no money at all. One of the primary ways the opposing lawyer will try to discredit you is to look for statements you have made in the past or in other circumstances that are inconsistent with statements you made at a deposition under oath. This means the lawyer will get copies of all your medical records to see what you said to your healthcare providers and will talk to other people who know you to find out what you told them. The lawyer may hire a private investigator to make a video recording of you at your home or in other public places. And, of course, the lawyer will look at pictures you posted and at what you have said on social networking sites such as Facebook.

The general rule is that parents are not responsible for the negligence of their minor children. However, there are many exceptions to that rule. If the parent owns the vehicle that the minor was driving then the parent can be liable under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine. If the parent signed the minor child’s application for his or her driver’s license, the signing parent is liable. Click here for a more in-depth discussion on parents’ responsibility for their minor children’s negligence causing a car accident.

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