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Motorist Insurance Claims

A Guide From a Tampa Motorist Insurance Claims Attorney

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An Overview of Vehicle Insurance Claims

The insurance industry is a multi-trillion dollar machine.  The motoring public buys in to the insurance system so that when an individual drives negligently and injures another, money will be available from an insurance company to pay the claim.

While the idea sounds great, the reality is this: insurance companies are in business to make money. Lot’s of money.

To make money, they collect premiums from the motoring public. However the amount they can charge is regulated by the States. Therefore, the best way for them to make lots of money is to pay out as little as possible in claims money.

Every dollar less they pay out to motorists is another dollar they keep in profit.

As long as insurance companies exist, motorist insurance claims attorney will exist to make the company pay.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claims

Uninsured motorist insurance claims arise when:

  • A victim is in a wreck with an underinsured or uninsured vehicle.
  • The driver and/or owner of the underinsured or uninsured vehicle drove negligently and caused the wreck.
  • The wreck caused damages to the victim (medical bills, injury, pain and suffering, or lost wages).
  • The victim (or a resident relative) has uninsured motorist coverage available to pay the claim.

Uninsured motorist coverage “steps into the shoes” of the bodily injury coverage the bad driver should have.

Beware: Even though it is the victim’s insurance, uninsured motorist insurance carriers are even more likely to deny or delay payment of these claims.  It is an unfortunate reality. Perhaps a notable exception is USAA, who is at least moderately fair at the beginning of an uninsured motorist claim settlement process.

Beware: Invalid Waivers

Florida law actually mandates that every person who purchases bodily injury coverage also is provided the same amount of uninsured motorist coverage. The law allows the purchaser to “waive” uninsured motorist coverage at the time of purchase. Insurance companies love to get people to waive uninsured motorist coverage so they can make more money.

If you have signed a waiver, do not lose hope!  We have found certain waivers to be invalid for a variety of reasons. For example, some “digital signatures” do not comply with Florida statute, and are therefore invalid.  Always have your uninsured motorist claim reviewed by an attorney

Bad Driver Motorist Insurance Claims

Bad driver motorist insurance claims, also called “third party” motorist insurance claims, are claims directly against the driver or owner of the at-fault vehicle.

These bodily injury claims require:

  • A victim is in a wreck caused by a negligent driver.
  • The victim is injured or has other damages.
  • The negligent driver and/or the owner has insurance coverage called “bodily injury” coverage.

It’s important to note we can find bodily injury insurance coverage from a variety of sources.  The driver’s bodily injury insurance should kick in, even if the driver is not driving his or her own vehicle.  The owner of the vehicle’s insurance will also apply, even if the owner of the vehicle was not driving the vehicle.  This is because of Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine, which holds the owner of a vehicle responsible for damages caused by their vehicle. Finally, if the vehicle was driven in the course of scope of employment, the employer’s insurance coverage may apply.  Our attorneys see this with ridesharing cases as delivery driver claims.

Florida’s “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine holds the owner of a vehicle responsible even if they were letting a friend or family member use their car at the time of the wreck.

First Property Damage Motorist Insurance Claims

A special type of motorist insurance claim is first party property damage claims.

In these claims, either the insurance company or the driver may (usually) invoke an appraisal clause in the insurance contract before anyone can file a lawsuit.

Appraisal is a process that does favor the insurance company. Many of the appraisers are hired all the time by the insurance companies, and want to keep getting hired.

However, insurance companies often blow off their insureds when making a property damage insurance claim.  Often, those results in a waiver by the insurance company of the appraisal clause.

When appraisal is waived, then the insured can file a lawsuit against the insurance company.

Florida statute has a great “equalizer” law. It states that when you sue your insurance company and you collect one dollar more than what the insurance company offered, then the insurance company needs to pay the fees to the Tampa Motorist Insurance Attorney directly.

Think about that.

Without this law, the insurance company can low ball every single motorist insurance claim and the insured would have no recourse.

For example, your vehicle is a total loss. You know the vehicle is worth $5000.00.  But the insurance company only offers $4250.00.

What are you going to do?  A personal injury attorney with a regular contingency fee agreement would not work because even if you collected the $750 extra, it would go right back out in fees.  And you would not want to pay a motorist insurance claim attorney hourly because the juice would not be worth the squeeze.

But with a fee shifting provision, the insurance attorney can take the claim and collect on fees from the insurance company after winning. This law is the only way to prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of every consumer, every single time.

How Long Will This Take?

The average motorist insurance claim is between six and nine months. Smaller claims are often resolved quicker.  Larger claims can take a couple of years.

This makes sense when you consider insurance companies do not want to pay money.  They will do whatever they can to fight large claims. So, larger claims often take serious work in the courtroom to get justice for our clients.

Why Denmon Pearlman Insurance Motorist Claims Attorneys?

Our motorist insurance claims attorneys know how to go for the win.  We understand that even “small” claims can make a big difference for our clients.  This is especially true during pandemic times. Therefore, we believe that every client deserves maximum civil justice for their insurance claims.

Our lawyers have been named as Top Trial Lawyers in Florida by the National Trial Lawyers association.  Our lawyers have been named as “Super Lawyers” every year since 2016.

Most importantly, every  client gets the cell phone of their assigned paralegal, attorney, and one of the partners in the firm.

Can You Sue an Uninsured Driver in Florida?

You sure can.  The question is whether you want to do so.

The reality is that Florida law protects the home, retirement account, and vehicles of an uninsured driver.  In the vast majority of cases, the uninsured driver would be uncollectible in a lawsuit.

However, sometimes we included the uninsured driver in an uninsured motorist lawsuit. We do this for tactical reasons such as making sure the case stays in State Court instead of the insurance company removing the case to Federal court.

Can an Uninsured Motorist Sue Me?

Yes. A person’s insurance status does not affect his or her ability to bring a lawsuit in Tampa, Florida courts.  The question is simply whether a person has been injured because of the negligence of another person or company.

What Does it Cost to Hire A Insurance Motorist Claims Attorney?

The vast majority of time, the insurance motorist claims attorney is paid a contingency fee.  That means no money down. That means no fee if the attorney loses. The attorney takes all the risk.

If and when the attorney wins the case, then the attorney will take a predetermined percentage of the gross settlement amount for the fee.  This is usually 33 1/3% in pre-suit and 40% if a lawsuit has been filed.

In certain first-party cases, the attorney will agree to collect fees only from the insurance company. This is common in those smaller property damage cases whether the matter in controversy is only hundreds or thousands of dollars.  This agreement makes the claim viable financially for the claimant as well as the attorney.

 

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Client Testimonials

Christine E.
Christine E.
19:36 05 Dec 19
This past Tuesday, I got into a car accident that was frankly, quite scary. The experience left me disoriented, shaken, and overwhelmed with what "next steps" needed to be taken. Thanks to Nicole Pearlman, and the whole Denmon & Pearlman team, I didn't have to worry about those next steps. They quickly took over and set me up with medical appointments, a rental car, car inspection.... leaving me the ability to focus on spending those initial hours processing the accident and later, days spent on healing physically and emotionally. In a world where billions of people reside and yet we still often feel alone, that was never the case during this chaotic week. Never did I once feel alone in this whole process and I am incredibly thankful for their kindness to my nephew and I and their expertise in these matters. Denmon & Pearlman, especially Nicole Pearlman, WILL be there for you during life's most challenging experiences.
Nichole P.
Nichole P.
14:37 18 Apr 19
Ashley Boisvert was so great to work with when it comes to dealing with a not so great situation! I highly recommend Denmon & Pearlman.
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John A.
16:50 20 Mar 19
I had to resolve an issue with real estate created by my divorce lawyer’s mistake. We interviewed 4 other attorneys who were non commital about what they could do, a couple said I should pay off my ex to resolve.Paul Knudsen in the New Port Richey office looked at the case and felt we had a valid case and was confident he could help. He did just that ! Resolved the situation AND got half of my legal fees from my ex. He’s very smart and well respected in the courts. Definitely has our highest recommendation!!
Carly M.
Carly M.
13:47 01 May 18
Nicole Denmon handled my criminal defense case and her tenacity at getting the desired result exceeded far beyond what I ever thought to hope for. Even after I had given up, Nicole persisted in negotiating my case until she was able to get the ideal outcome for me. I have never had an attorney fight for me the way that Nicole did, and weeks later I am still amazed at the perseverance and level of dedication shown by Nicole and her supporting staff. Thank you Nicole!
Josh F.
Josh F.
16:12 09 Jun 17
Great group of attorneys. They are very knowledgable and quick. I got responses to my questions immediately and they actually seem to care about their clients. I would highly recommend them.
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