Be Compensated for Damage to your vehicle following a Florida Car Accident
In Florida, all owners and operators of motor vehicles are responsible for having insurance coverage for damage they cause to someone else’s vehicle in an accident. The penalties for not having such insurance could include suspension of one’s driving privileges.
If you are in an accident, the first thing we must determine is who is at fault for your accident. The reason being is that under Florida law, the at fault party is responsible for compensating you for your property damage and injuries. That is why it is so important that you contact us as soon as possible, even at the accident scene, following an accident. It is so important that we start communicating the facts of why you are not at fault to both your insurance company and the at fault party’s. An insurance company has 30 days within which to do an investigation of the accident and determine who is liable. Therefore, from the moment you get in an accident, the clock is running, and the sooner information is relayed, the sooner we may be able to get the at fault party to pay for your vehicle’s damage.
Some drivers carry property damage insurance under their own insurance policy. This coverage is usually known as “Comprehensive or Collision” Coverage. This coverage is very helpful because then we can simply have your insurance company pay for your vehicle’s damages. In return, your own insurance company then goes after the at fault party for reimbursement. Again, if we find this coverage, this speeds up getting you back in your car. This coverage would also apply even if you are at fault for the accident.
Often times, an insurance company will attempt to deny liability for an accident, even when the evidence clearly suggests their insured is at fault. That is why you need an accident and injury lawyer, because when they do this, only a lawyer can give you advice on your legal options to force them to pay what is owed.
When it comes to what you are entitled to for the damages to your car, under Florida Law, the insurance company for the at fault party must pay for the repairs involved, unless the total of the repairs exceeds the fair market value of the car. Then, the insurance company is obligated to pay you a total loss settlement, which is simply a check for the fair market value of your vehicle at the time of the accident. The fair value takes into consideration the age of your vehicle, the condition, mileage, and any upgrades or modifications you have made to the same. Often times, the Kelly Blue Book® or other similar valuation type of websites are used by insurance carriers to make this determination.
“TIP” –You can look them up as well. Go to www.kbb.com. There you will find the various values that Kelly Blue Book® uses, and what the adjuster is probably using as well. Note - there are other sites other then the Blue Book, which just happens to be my personal favorite.
Under Florida law, you are also entitled to reimbursement for having to obtain a rental vehicle for the time the insurance company takes to either repair or replace your car. You are also entitled to what is called “Loss of Use.” Loss of Use pays you back the fair value for the inconvenience of not having the vehicle. It can be highly subjective, and often, these claims develop where an insurer has dragged their feet in settling a property damage claim. An attorney can be very helpful in a battle with an insurance adjuster over loss of use.
“TIP” –Often times, getting your car back on the road, is something you can do without an attorney involved. I have found that often times, insurance companies work with individuals faster on their car if their attorney is not involved. Attorneys rarely, if ever, get compensated from the property damage side of an accident case. So often, most attorneys do not want to be involved in the same. However, if the insurance company is not being fair, you should let your attorney know the same, and have them take over the handling of the claim immediately.
Also, if you are dealing with the property damage on your own, be careful about what you say and what you are asked by the insurance adjuster. Property Damage adjusters oftentimes try to get statements that are bad for you about your injury claim, when your guard is down and you are venerable during your property damage negotiations. If the conversation changes to how you are feeling or doing, stop immediately, and call your lawyer, because they are setting you up to deny your injury claim later.
For more on all your rights and prospective claims following a Florida Car Accident, get a free instant copy of my Book, here.