Filing a Florida Auto Accident Insurance Claim

Expert Advice from Orlando Auto Accident Attorney Tim David

Filing a Florida auto accident insurance claim can be confusing, especially for someone who has never had to navigate this process before. It is important for victims to understand the process so there is no chance of an insurance company taking advantage of his or her lack of knowledge.

The Auto Accident Insurance Claim Process

An auto accident insurance claim begins after there has been a collision of some type involving an automobile. Whether the crash was between two vehicles or involving only a single car or truck, there is usually a certain amount of physical damage as well as possible injuries to the driver or passengers. Paying for these damages is the job of the insurance company.

In order to be sure that the claim is handled properly, the first thing the victim should do is report the accident to his or her insurance carrier. This is an important step, even if the victim is not at fault for the accident. The insurance carrier then has the responsibility of processing the claim and seeking recovery from the other driver’s insurance company if necessary.

What Is No-Fault Insurance?

A Florida auto accident insurance claim may proceed a bit differently from claims in other states. This is because Florida has adopted a “no-fault” insurance structure that requires every driver to carry his or her own medical coverage. This medical coverage is the first line of defense in paying for injuries, no matter who caused the accident.

IMPORTANT: Under Florida law, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident or you lose your right to payments for medical expenses and wage loss!

Once the victim has submitted a claim, the insurance company will usually respond by sending a claims adjuster to examine the damage and possibly interview the parties to the accident. The adjuster will review the policies to determine the types and amounts of coverage available as well as any limits or deductibles that may apply.

If the claim is very straightforward and simple, the adjuster will simply ask the victim to collect bills for repairs and medical treatment and submit them. However, if there is a question about liability or if the damages and injuries exceed policy limits, there may be an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. If there are questions in your case regarding liability, read our article on how to dispute fault in a car accident claim.

Should I Take A Settlement?

At some point, it is likely that the insurance adjuster or a representative from the other driver’s insurance company will approach the victim with a settlement offer.

Typically, settlement offers cover little more than the basic costs of the case. It is very important to avoid signing any type of settlement offer before speaking to a personal injury attorney.

If the adjuster or insurance company refuses to negotiate, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. In Florida, this must be done within four years of the date of the accident in most cases. This time period is known as the “statute of limitations“; failure to file a claim within that time period could mean that the victim loses the right to file at all.

Car accident lawsuits rarely go to trial. In most cases, hiring a personal injury attorney sends a strong message to the insurance company that the victim is serious about collecting compensation. The majority of these cases are settled out of court with an agreement between the victim and the insurance company. In these instances, a personal injury attorney may be able to help the victim of a car accident recover more compensation for injuries than he or she could recover alone.