If you have been injured in a car accident, you’ve most likely experienced some significant out-of-pocket expenses from medical bills, as well as lost wages from not being able to return to work during recovery. In addition to the financial strain a car accident causes, you also may experience pain and emotional suffering.
To recover what you have lost in a car accident, you want to get the best car accident settlement possible. And you’ll need to understand how the car accident settlement process truly works before you call an auto accident lawyer.
The car accident settlement process works on the following fundamental proposition: If you have suffered injury and inconvenience because someone else did not do what he or she was supposed to do (negligence), then you have the right to be put back into the same position that you were in before the accident.
In this guide, we will provide helpful information about the car accident settlement process.
Accident Settlement Process & Timeline
When driving in Florida and being involved in an accident, it’s important to know when to contact law enforcement. If the accident involves an injury, death, or property damage greater than $500, a LEO should be called out to the scene of the accident to file a report. If the accident does not require a police report to be filed, the driver needs to file a crash report within 10 days.
Drivers involved in an accident are required to offer “reasonable assistance” to anyone who may be injured and is also expected to exchange information with any other drivers involved. We recommend clients to also get names and phone numbers of witnesses, document the weather and road conditions, and take photographs of all vehicles involved. Even if you feel that you were at fault, it’s important to never assume responsibility for the accident while speaking with an investigating officer.
Florida’s “no-fault” insurance system means that each individual’s insurance provider will cover their own bills and expenses, regardless of fault. However, it is possible to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance for property damage to your vehicle. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible following the accident to find out what steps need to be made to successfully file the claim. If medical attention is required, do not wait to see a doctor.
Statutes of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a vehicle accident is dependant on if the accident has resulted in injury or death. If there was an injury caused by the accident, or if there was damage to your vehicle, a suit can be filed up to 4 years after the date of the accident. If a death occurs from the accident, a wrongful death suit must be filed within 2 years after the date of the person’s death.
How Much Will I Get as a Settlement?
A settlement amount will vary greatly depending on the severity of the accident. If there was only vehicle damage, the insurance company will only pay out the “reasonable” cost of the repair or replacement. As previously mentioned, if property damage exceeds $500, you may be able to fight for a settlement from the other driver to cover repair or replacement costs.
If you’ve suffered an injury from the accident, this portion of your settlement case is negotiated separately from the property damage portion. The amount paid out by insurance is usually determined by medical bills, wage loss, and the extent of injuries as specified by a medical professional.
Pain and suffering settlements are a type of payout that compensates for past and future discomfort stemming from injuries suffered during the accident. A completed medical treatment and release from a doctor is required before submitting this portion of a settlement claim. Insurance will only pay out one settlement as pain and suffering compensation, so it’s important to understand your medical condition and if any additional care may be required later in life. It’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer to discuss a settlement that involves residual pain and medical care, to ensure that you don’t waive your options involving future medical care.
Accident-Related Costs and Your Settlement Payout
In Florida, the majority of drivers only carry $10,000 in medical care coverage on their automobile insurance. When you’re in an accident that causes your bills and costs to start piling up, it’s to have an experienced car accident attorney in your corner, as your accident settlement negotiations carry even more significance when there is additional financial compensation on the line. After working with hundreds of clients dealing with a prior injury-causing accident, here are some of the most common bills that clients incur post-accident.
Medical bills from a collision can vary greatly depending on the severity of the accident. Minor accidents may require a visit to the ER or to a chiropractor for a stiff neck or back. More serious accidents can rack up significantly more bills, ranging from ambulance transport from the scene of the accident to the hospital to ER doctor, hospital, and radiology bills(all separate bills from the same visit!), to post-care services like physical therapy or in-home care. It’s important to keep detailed records and copies of all bills following an accident.
Damaged or Lost Property
As previously mentioned, if your vehicle has more than $500 worth of damage, you are able to seek reimbursement in your settlement from the other driver and/or their insurance. If there are other personal items of value in the vehicle that were damaged or lost in the accident, those items are also eligible to be included in your settlement.
Cost of Medication
Following any accident, we always hope that clients don’t have a need for medications to treat pain or ailment caused by the accident, but the unfortunate truth is that many clients end up with multiple prescriptions to help them go about their day-to-day lives comfortably. For most, medications are covered by their health insurance, but it’s still important to keep all records of prescriptions written by medical professionals who treated you following the accident.
The average daily cost of a hospital stay in Florida can range from $1,500-2,250. While most automotive accidents don’t require an overnight stay, certain injuries sustained in an accident call for extended observation. When the head, neck, or spine is injured, an extended hospital stay is necessary to ensure correct healing to a major bodily system. Any time a client has a hospital bill, it’s recommended to retain all bills to share with your personal injury attorney.
Serious accidents can leave drivers and/or passengers in bad shape. In many cases, serious injuries come with significant recovery times. During that recovery time, rehabilitation and physical therapy are needed to restore range of motion, flexibility, and strength.
When an accident leaves a driver or passenger injured and unable to show up for work, the question of who will make up for the lost wages comes into question. Discussing wages with your attorney is an important area to note during an initial consultation. The attorney should be able to provide you with an actionable plan to ensure that you and your family are not going to go without during the recovery period.
Cost of Medical Equipment
Wheelchairs, crutches, ramps, and accessibility tools for around the home are just a few of the dozens of pieces of medical equipment that could be required for post-accident recovery. While health insurance often covers these items, it’s important to save all receipts and documentation for any medical equipment. Often times, these essential items are able to be included into a settlement payout.
Expenses Paid Out of Pocket
There are an estimated 27 million Americans who are not currently enrolled in a health insurance program. When an uninsured motorist is in an accident, not carrying a health insurance policy can lead to tremendous amounts of bills that must be paid out of pocket. Keep a record of any and all out of pocket expenses that occurred due to the accident and be sure to share them with your car accident attorney.
How Much Will I Get for my Car Accident Settlement?
Due to the unique nature of each accident, and subsequent claim, there is no “formula” for calculating the amount that will be paid out for an accident settlement. One area that insurance companies focus on when determining a payout is what is referred to as “special damages.” These damages encompass financial loss resulting from the accident and include areas like medical bills and lost wages. The insurance company’s’ goal is to close in on an amount that a jury would award if the accident case goes to trial. The most common determining factor in the payout amount of an accident settlement involves putting a dollar amount the amount of pain and suffering experienced due to the accident.
Get a Free Auto Accident Settlement Consultation
If you were recently in an accident and sustained injuries that lead to financial loss, our team at Denmon Lawyers are here to help you get back on your feet. Let one of our experienced auto accident lawyers look into the details of your accident and the surrounding factors, including your medical expenses and/or lost wages, to determine what sort of settlement could be expected. Your consultation with Denmon Lawyers is a completely FREE service that we provide to potential clients to help them understand what they may stand to gain by filing for a settlement. For more information, please contact Denmon Lawyers at one of our four Tampa bay locations by calling 1-888-992-7947.