The days following a car accident can be stressful and confusing. You’re not only recovering from your injuries, you may also be trying to figure out how to pay for the property damage and your medical bills. When you’re dealing with the aftermath of an accident that’s not your fault, it’s literally adding insult to injury. It is important to understand car accident claims and how they work in the state of Florida.
Knowing how to proceed with your car accident claim can make the process simpler and as stress-free as possible. Here’s what you need to do to get your medical bills paid after a Tampa car accident.
First Off: Who Pays?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means the law works a little differently than those states that follow a traditional fault model for car insurance. When you purchased auto insurance, Florida law required you to purchase a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy.
This provides up to $10,000 in coverage for injuries and medical bills, regardless of who is at fault for a car accident.
Say, for example, you were rear ended, causing you to smash into the vehicle ahead of you. You suffered whiplash and your head hit the steering wheel, resulting in a mild concussion. Even though you were clearly not at fault for the accident, your own insurance policy will pay for the damages.
This is the advantage of the no-fault system – you won’t have to spend time fighting with the other person’s insurance company trying to prove they were at fault. Instead, you’ll simply file a claim against your own PIP policy.
What About Injuries in Excess of $10,000?
The law is a little more confusing when the payment exceeds $10,000. In our previous scenario, it’s not hard to see how medical bills could surpass this amount. Medical imaging alone can cost thousands of dollars, and if a hospital wants to keep you overnight for observation, you might receive a bill for over $10,000. So, what happens next?
In this scenario, Florida law would classify you as an “underinsured driver.” Your next step would be to collect damages from your own uninsured/underinsured policy. Florida requires that each person have certain amounts of coverage for bodily injury or underinsured protection.
Finally, you would try to recover the rest of your payments from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury protection coverage.
This is where the process gets a little more stressful. In order to collect from an at-fault driver’s policy, you will have to prove they were at fault for the accident. This requires an insurance company investigation and some negotiation. In order to protect your claim, we recommend taking the following actions:
- Keep all your recommended doctor’s appointments and follow all medical instructions to the letter. You want the at-fault insurance company to take your injuries seriously.
- Ask for copies of all your medical records and forward them to the insurance company.
- Don’t sign anything from the other person’s insurance company until you can have a personal injury attorney review it.
Hire a personal injury attorney to protect your rights throughout the process. When working with an at-fault driver’s insurance company, you can expect some negotiations. Hiring an attorney will help ensure that you aren’t settling for an unfairly low offer.
The at-fault driver’s bodily insurance coverage only makes one payout after considering fault, causation, and the extent of your own injuries. This is why it’s so important to have an advocate throughout the process. For more information, or to schedule a free initial consultation with our firm, please contact us.
Bulluck Law Group has been protecting victims of Tampa car accidents for years, and is ready to go to work for you.
To learn more about car accidents, read our A Comprehensive Guide for Car Accident Victims.