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Understanding Tampa Car Accident Claims and When to Hire a Car Wreck Attorney

Why The Insurance Company Is Not Your Friend

Sure, Flo seems nice.  The General is cute.  Mayhem entertains. And what Tampa, Florida resident does not like lizards? They advertise on buses, tv, and sporting events throughout Tampa bay.

But cute advertising aside, insurance companies exist to maximize profit.

And to do that they need to pay you as little as possible for your claim.

Insurance companies will:

  • Deny just claims
  • Lowball offers to try to make you think your claim is crap
  • Hire private investigators to follow you around
  • Write a check to you for one claim and then fool you into fully releasing all claims

A car accident attorney deals with insurance companies all day long. He or she will keep the insurance company honest and help you get a fair result.

For example, Progressive insurance has ramped up efforts in the Tampa Bay area to try to catch car accident victims before they speak to a car accident lawyer and trick them into settling their case for mere pennies.  A potential client contacted us recently with a claim that we easily valued at six figures.  Upon review, the insurance company adjuster met our client and wrote him a check for less than $2,000.00. The poor person did not realize that by cashing the check and signing some paperwork he had released the insurance company from all claims related to the wreck.

Even if it is your insurance company, you can expect to be lowballed.  They do this routinely in uninsured motorist claims as well as first-party property damage claims.

At least chat with a Car Accident Attorney before signing any documents from an insurance company.

Recognize the insurance company needs to lowball you to maximize its profits. Always discuss your care with an injury lawyer that handles car accidents in Tampa before taking any money or signing any documents.

Why Fault Matters in Your Car Wreck

The heart of a car accident claim is a fault. Specifically, that another person or corporation violated safety rules and caused damage to you.

Cars are violent and dangerous.  Every driver must be super cautious on the road to protect the motoring public.  We call this a duty of care.

When a driver violates safety rules on the road we call that being negligent.  If a driver is negligent and causes a crash, then that driver is responsible for any damages caused.

That means to have a car wreck claim you should not be the faulty person.  Your claim is against other drivers who did drive negligently.

Sometimes it can be more than one driver.  And sometimes you might be partially at fault, but the majority of the blame for the wreck may fall on another driver.

In those cases, you will still have a claim, but any settlement amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you had in the car wreck.

Exception: One Type of Claim Where Fault Does Not Matter

One exception to the fault rule we see in Hillsborough and around Tampa is when a driver goes through his own insurance to fix his vehicle but his insurance tries to lowball him.

For example, you are in a collision and your vehicle is totaled.  You have full insurance so you ask your insurance company to pay you fair value for your vehicle. But your insurance company lowballs you.

In this case, your own insurance company is trying to screw you over. This is called a “first party” car accident claim.  You need a car accident attorney to bring a claim against your insurance company to make sure you get justice. The good news is that under Florida law, your accident property damage attorney can often get paid fees and costs directly from the insurance company. Florida law has a specific attorney fee provision when an insurance company screws over its own insured.


 

Tampa Car Accident Lawyer two suvs crashed together

 

Policy Limits In Auto Claims… And Exceptions

When determining how much a settlement claim is worth, we need to pay special attention to insurance policy limits.

Florida, like most states, is reliant on the insurance system to make sure car accident injury and property damage claims are paid.  So very shortly after a collision, we look to insurance policies to learn the limits. Specifically, we are looking at the following insurances:

  • Bodily Injury Insurance:  This is insurance purchased by either the at-fault driver, the owner of the vehicle driven by the at-fault driver or both. This is a primary source for a car accident lawyer to seek damages for pain, suffering, and other injuries. Unfortunately, bodily injury insurance is not required in Florida, at least not yet.  Therefore the auto lawyer will determine this existence asap at the onset of a lawsuit.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage:  Uninsured Motorist coverage is purchased by you, the accident victim, a resident family member, or the owner of the vehicle you are in assuming another vehicle was at fault.  This coverage “acts” just like bodily injury coverage. It can be very helpful when the bad driver has little or no bodily injury insurance.
  • PIP Insurance:  This is like $10,000.00 of health insurance specifically for people seeking medical treatment after a car wreck.  it helps pay some of your medical bills. This is required in Florida and applies in most auto situations, but not when you are on a motorcycle or a bus.
  • Property Damage Insurance: This is insurance specifically to fix or pay for a total loss of a vehicle. The bad driver’s property damage insurance will also cover the diminished value of your car and fair value for the time you are without a vehicle.

In general, when we value your claim (see below) the policy limits act as a “ceiling” to your claim. You can’t squeeze water out of a rock!

But there are exceptions.  Insurance companies are not allowed to act in “bad faith”.  They are not supposed to be allowed to screw over their insureds.  When they do, in certain circumstances we can argue bad faith to get “excess” coverage made available!

On the flip side, there is a time limit to claims.  Also called the Statute of Limitations, you need to bring your claim in Florida timely or you recovery zero.

How to Value Your Tampa Car Accident Claim

How to value your Tampa car accident claim like a lawyer:

  1. Determine Your Economic Damages:  For your vehicle, this is the cost to your vehicle, the cost for a replacement vehicle, and any diminished value or loss of use.  For your injury claim, this is your medical bills and lost wages.  All economic expenses for the past and future!
  2. Determine Your Non-economic  Damages:  These are human damages.  This is the loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.  These damages are also from the past and the future.
  3. Add the damages together.
  4. Determine your fault. If you were rear-ended, you likely were not responsible.  But if there was a sideswipe or if you were speeding, it might be appropriate to take some responsibility.  You will need to reduce your damages by the percentage of fault.
  5. Compare your damages to the policy limits.  If your damages exceed the policy limits, then you should never settle your case for anything less! Your Tampa car accident attorney will demand the policy limits. If the insurance company does not pay, then file a lawsuit and ask for the full value of your claim. You gave the insurance company a chance to be fair and they chose to be unfair!

Note:  It is often impossible to determine the full value of your injury claim until you have reached maximum medical improvement.  That’s because until the Doctor determines you have healed as much as possible you do not know the extent of your permanent injuries. Likewise, you will not know what medical treatment you will need in the future.  That’s why higher value cases can take months before settlement negotiations begin, and sometimes years to come to a conclusion.

Factors That Influence The Value Of Your Car Accident Settlement In Your Injury Case

Some Of The Biggest Factors That Can Affect The Value Of Your Settlement Claim Include:

Your Treatment Plan

Your job is to get better. The more you listen to your doctors and do everything you can to get better, the better arguments we can make on your behalf. After all, it would not make sense for us to argue to a jury that the accident greatly impacted your life when you are not trying to heal through the best medical treatments that are available.

Know your attorney law rights in Florida.

The Nature Of The Accident

The degree of impact is important for you to determine the value of your settlement claim. Certain types of motor vehicle car accidents are known in the medical community to cause more permanent injuries. These are important questions to ask.

The Extent To Which Liability Is Clear

The clearer it is that the other side caused the car accident, the higher the value of your claim. That’s because with Florida’s contributory negligence laws, you cannot recover a settlement for injuries that were your fault. So if you are 20% at fault for your injuries, expect the value of your claim to be reduced by 20%.

The Seriousness Of Your Medical Treatment

Naturally, if your treatment is chiropractic in nature because your injuries are less severe, then the value of your case will have a certain cap. But if you need injections or even surgery because you are really, really hurt and in serious pain, then expect the value of your claim to naturally increase with the seriousness of your treatment.

Examples of Car Wreck Settlements and Verdicts

Let’s look at some settlement examples for our Tampa, Florida car accident claims.

Related:

$100,000 Auto Claim Settlement For West Tampa Driver

We recently settled a rear-end auto accident claim for the $100,000 policy limits for a client in West Tampa.

vehicle wreck tampa

It was a severe impact. Our client was in pain.  He needs some injections in his back to help with his pain.

We sent a demand for the policy limits. As usual, the insurance company did not tender the policy limits.

Crappy Settlement Offer

So Tampa Car Accident Attorneys Christian Denmon and Lee Pearlman filed a lawsuit.  At mediation, the insurance company tendered the policy limits.

Settlement for 100K

Ornan West Tampa Client

Our client was happy to resolve the claim.

Types of Car Accident Claims

  • Truck Accidents: As part of the Interstate 4 corridor, Tampa’s highway system sees massive truck traffic yearly. With massive truck traffic comes trucking accidents, which may require a lawyer.
  • UBER and Lyft Accidents
  • Rear-End Accident: The benefit of rear-end auto accidents is that liability is usually pretty clear. Florida law presumes that the driver who rear-ends another driver is the party who caused the accident. Members of the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department routinely ticket drivers for careless driving when there is a rear-end collision.
  • T-Bone Accidents:
  • Pedestrian Accidents: Often cause extreme injury. The reason is obvious: a person walking on foot is no match for a two-ton car. Cases with more severe injuries might need expert witnesses to make the insurance company (or a judge or a jury) truly see how the injuries suffered will impact a victim’s future.
  • Side-Impact Collisions:  Side impact collisions often cause unique injuries to the spinal column and the neck. If you are in a car and you are hit on the side closest to you, the injury can be much worse. Side impact collision cases often have contested liability, meaning your Tampa auto accident lawyer will aggressively fight from the beginning of your case to prove that the other party is at fault by law.
  • Rollover Accidents: Rollover accidents can lead to head trauma and brain injury, among other injuries. Much like side-impact collisions, the accident lawyer seeks from the beginning of the case to prove that the other party is liable
  • Head-On Collisions: Head-on car collisions have the greatest chance of traumatic injury or death because two vehicles are traveling at high speeds towards each other. Victims of head-on collisions can often benefit from using the services of an auto accident reconstructionist expert at the beginning of their case.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycles are no match for cars and trucks. Motorcycle accident cases also have unique insurance and injury issues.

When You Need a Car Wreck Lawyer.. and When You Do Not

When do you NOT need an auto accident attorney for your Tampa wreck?

In general, if you have no injuries or soreness, you were in a minor wreck then you do not need an attorney unless your insurance company or the other insurance company is being unfair. 

However, do recognize that you may have additional property damage claims besides just fixing your vehicle. You may have a claim for the diminished value of your car. You also may have a claim for having to come out of pocket for a rental or even just for not having a vehicle for a period of time.

If your soreness or injury but it gets better in a few days and you have less than $500 dollars worth of medical bills and no need for additional treatment, you may wish to skip the car accident attorney process and settle your own claim.

In any other case, discuss with a car accident attorney how they can help you.

In General, attorneys get 400% more in settlements then unrepresented people.  That means you get much more money in your pocket without having to deal with the stress of talking to adjusters just by hiring a lawyer.

The simple truth is lawyers get 400% more on average than unrepresented people.  And of course, that data (from an insurance report) represents all attorneys even those who dabble in auto claims. Naturally hiring a firm that handles auto claims day in and day out with attorneys who focus exclusively on auto cases will increase the settlement amounts even more.

Why Hiring A Tampa Car Accident Attorney Makes All The Difference

You may think you are tough, and everything will be fine. But human beings have not evolved enough to withstand the traumatic force of two cars colliding. You don’t feel like you’re going fast when you are cruising along the road at 50 miles per hour. But you are. And if your two-ton vehicle collides with another two-ton vehicle at a high speed, your soft tissues will suffer trauma.

Tampa Car Accident Attorney inspects crash

These soft tissues are delicate. We’re talking about ligaments and tendons. The stress from a high-speed car impact can cause a disc to tear. Or a herniation. Or a disc bulge. These injuries hurt. Medical treatment is necessary for these injuries to heal. Ironically, soft tissue injuries can have more long-lasting implications than hard tissue injuries like broken bones, which actually heal back stronger than before.

If you have been injured in a car accident, then the bodily injury you have suffered may have economic value (we call this “settlement value”) according to the law. Consult a Tampa car accident attorney.

Why Denmon Pearlman Accident Injury Lawyers

We go for the win. Unlike some of our competitors, we believe every case is unique. Every human is special. And that leads to higher settlement numbers.

We make it easy:  Text information directly to your dedicated text line that goes right into your file for the team to see.  Leverage zoom so you can communicate with your car accident attorney from the comfort of your home.

Here is how it works!

  • Pick up the phone to reach out to our office. We have staff available 24 hours a day to take your call. If it’s after regular office hours, we have legal assistants who will take a message and forward your information to a car accident attorney. You can always expect a call back within 15 minutes.
  • Set a meeting with one of our intake specialists or car crash lawyers. We can do this in one of our offices, which are conveniently located throughout the Tampa Bay area. Or we can come to see you. We can meet you at the hospital, at your doctor’s office, or at another location that you choose. In today’s digital world, we can even set up a Skype or a Google Hangout video call for our initial consultation.
  • If you wish to proceed, by law you simply sign an engagement letter that allows us to work on your behalf. We’ll also have some authorizations and releases for you to sign so that we can speak with your doctors and representatives of the insurance companies as well as hire third-party experts (if necessary for your case).

FAQ:  My car damage is minor. Is it worth getting a car accident attorney?

Some people think a lawyer will not handle a case with a minor impact.  This is often not true.

First, we are talking about the amount of visible property damage.  Sometimes, the visible property damage does not reflect the actual damage inside the vehicle.  Also, remember that cars are designed to withstand force, but the human body is not.  Therefore, the amount of visible property damage alone is simply one factor in your case.

Second, you can have a smaller impact but still, be hurt from the collision.  This is especially true in older adults and in those with pre-existing injuries. You cannot diagnose injuries to a human spine by looking at visible property damage on a car.

It is well established that minor impacts can cause serious injury.

Third, even if you are not hurt, you still might have valid claims.  For example:

  • You may have gone to the ER to get checked out, and had soreness for weeks afterward.  You still have an injury claim, even if it is modest.
  • Your vehicle may have suffered diminished value because of the negligence of the bad driver. Insurance companies will low ball diminished value claims without a car accident attorney and an expert opinion on your side.
  • Your own insurance company may be lowballing you on repairs or on your total loss.  A car accident attorney may be able to take your case and force the insurance company to pay your claim.

Tampa Personal Injury Services

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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.
John A.
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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