In the state of Florida, when another driver causes an accident that causes you injury or damage to your property, you are entitled to compensation. In most cases (especially if there is an injury) you are advised to contact a car accident lawyer to assist you. In minor cases, you may want to negotiate with the insurance company on your own. If that is the case, here are some things you must know.
The Insurance Company Is In Business To Make Money
Expect to negotiate. Insurance companies are in business to make money. They do not sell a “product.” They simply collect premiums from drivers. These drivers are then ensured that if they have an accident, the insurance company will pay the expenses of the accident. However, most drivers do not have accidents very often. So, they pay year after year, without a claim and that money is profit for the insurance company. They want to keep their profit. So, when the driver actually does have an accident, they want to minimize the damages and pay you as little as possible. For this reason, it’s important to work with qualified car accident attorneys.
Know What You Are Entitled To
- You are entitled (by law) for the expenses to repair or replace your damaged property.
- You are entitled to have the costs of your medical care paid, including medications, therapy, equipment needed, and sometimes personal help at home while you are recovering.
- You are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering and sometimes mental anguish.
- You are entitled to any salary or money you were unable to earn due to missing work because of your accident/injury.
These are not gifts. The law says the insurance company owes them to you. But you have to know what you are looking at because missing any of these items will cost you money. Further, once you have signed the papers agreeing to the amount of the settlement, there is no going back.
You must know how much money is fair and sufficient for you. You will need a probable number for the expenses and a bottom line number of the least you will accept on the case. To get that number and to prove your case, gather:
- Medical bills
- Prescription bills
- Bills for equipment (such as a walker or a cane) that you need for recovery
- Reports from your doctor, outlining future expectations
- Bills for in home care that may have been required
- Proof of your income for the past 3-months. This allows you to have a provable number on lost wages you expect.
- Vehicle repair cost
- Rental car cost
- Pain and suffering estimate
Once you have come up with a number you find acceptable, you can present it to the insurance company. If they agree, they settle your case and pay you. You may have to meet with an adjuster, but that should end things.
Present Your Case At The First Meeting
Keep that bottom line number in your mind and do not share it, and do not drop below it. You explain the merits of your case and offer an amount that you will accept. The adjuster will make an offer that is much lower. You do not have to restate your case. If you want to hit him with another number, then do so. If you can reach a happy medium, then the case is solved. If not, be prepared to go to court.
For more information, get in touch with our car accident attorneys today.