Frequently Asked Questions

Under Florida law, every owner of a motor vehicle is required by law to carry certain minimum insurance coverages to pay for medical bills and lost wages. These include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in the amount of $10,000 and property damage liability coverage in the amount of $10,000.

Although not required by Florida law, many persons involved in automobile accidents carry other insurance coverages, including bodily injury liability (BI) coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.

Whenever a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of whose fault the accident is, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will pay 80% of the person's medical expenses that are reasonable, medically necessary, and causally related to the motor vehicle accident up to $10,000. PIP coverage also pays 60% of the injured person's lost wages for time missed from work.

Many times in an automobile accident case, the person who caused the automobile accident (the at fault party) has bodily injury (BI) liability coverage. BI coverage pays for the bodily injury caused by the at fault party. Typically, bodily injury liability coverages come in various amounts, including: $10,000 per person/$20,000 per occurrence; $25,000 per person/$50,000 per occurrence; $50,000 per person/$100,000 per occurrence; or $100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence.

The first number represents the amount of bodily injury liability coverage that any one injured person can recover from the at fault party's policy. The second number reflects the total amount of coverage available for all persons injured in the motor vehicle accident.

Sometimes the at fault party does not have BI coverage or does not have enough BI coverage. If this occurs, a person may bring a claim against his own UM carrier.

Under Florida law, whenever a person purchases bodily injury (BI) liability coverage, the person's insurance company must offer to them uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in an amount equal to the amount of bodily injury liability coverage or, in the alternative, the insurance company must obtain a knowing signed rejection of UM coverage and/or election of lower UM coverage than the amount of bodily injury liability coverage.

UM/UIM coverage is probably one of the most important automobile insurance coverages that a person can purchase in Florida. UM/UIM coverage allows every person who owns a motor vehicle to protect themselves when involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of an uninsured and/or underinsured motorist.

UM/UIM coverage permits the injured person to make their personal injury claim against their own UM/UIM insurance company for the personal injuries caused by the negligence of the uninsured/underinsured motorist./

For obvious reasons, therefore, a person should purchase UM/UIM coverage in an amount equal to their bodily injury liability coverage. Further, "stackable" UM/UIM insurance coverage is also available. For persons who own more than one motor vehicle, if the person has purchased "stackable" UM/UIM coverage, then the amount of their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can be stacked by the number of vehicles the person owns. For example, if the person has purchased $100,000/$300,000 in UM/UIM coverage and owns 3 vehicles, then the person has $300,000 in UM/UIM coverage per person, and $900,000 in UM/UIM coverage per occurrence.

Under Florida law, there are two types of money damages that an injured person may seek from the at fault parties, their insurance companies, or the uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier. The two types of money damages are "economic," sometimes called "tangible" damages and "noneconomic," sometimes called "intangible" damages.

"Economic" or "tangible" damages include the injured person's past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past lost wages, and future loss of earning capacity caused by the motor vehicle accident.

"Noneconomic" or "intangible" damages include damages for a person's pain and suffering, disability or physical impairment, scarring or disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience, or loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life experienced in the past or to be experienced in the future. There is no exact standard for measuring these noneconomic damages. If your case goes to trial, the jury is instructed to award an amount that is fair and just in light of the evidence.

Under Florida law, a person may recover these "noneconomic" or "pain and suffering" type of damages, only if he or she has suffered a permanent injury caused by the motor vehicle accident. The person must have an expert opinion from a medical doctor, such as a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon, pyschiatrist, and/or chiropractic physician, stating that the injured person has suffered a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability under Florida law.

If the person has suffered a permanent injury, then he or she may recover the "noneconomic" damages.

In a typical automobile accident case in which a person has suffered permanent injuries, it may take anywhere from six months to twelve months before the injured person is placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) by their doctor. Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, indicates the time in which the injured person's medical condition has stabilized and/or plateaued and is not expected to improve any further. At the time of the MMI date, if the injured person has suffered a permanent injury as a result of the motor vehicle accident, the injured person's physician will, typically, assign a permanent impairment rating quantifying the injured person's injury. Usually, physicians use the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines for the evaluation of permanent impairment or some other medical guideline, together with the physician's experience and expertise in order to arrive at a permanent impairment rating.

Once the injured person has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and the physician has rendered his final narrative report, identifying what permanent injuries the injured person has suffered and assigned the particular permanent impairment rating, then it is time to submit a settlement demand on behalf of the injured person to any and all of the insurance companies involved in the particular case. Typically we provide the insurance companies with a settlement demand package, that includes all of the relevant medical records, all of the medical bills incurred, evidence of any lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity, and a discussion of the injured person's "noneconomic" or "pain and suffering" damages.

Typically, an insurance company is given 30 days to fully and fairly evaluate the information that we provide, at which time we ask them to respond to our settlement demand by either tendering all of the insurance coverage that is available or making a reasonable and fair offer based on the level and extent of the person's injuries.

At this time, based on all of the information, including the level and extent of the person's injuries, the amount of medical bills, the amount of lost wages, the amount of pain and suffering damages, and based on the offer that is being made, we will make a recommendation as to whether the amount of the offer is in the "reasonable range" of the value of the injured person's case or whether the insurance company is not making a reasonable and fair offer.

If the insurance company is not making a reasonable and fair offer, then we will make recommendations, including filing a lawsuit to recover money damages against the at fault parties, their insurance companies, or any uninsured motorist carriers.

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  • Tanney, Griffith & Bresler, P.A.
  • Criterion Centre
    29605 U.S. 19 North
    Building 200, Suite 210
    Clearwater, FL 33761
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