No other law firm handles as many car accident claims in Gulfport, Florida as we do. For over 60 years, we have helped injured people in Gulfport recover compensation after car accidents. One reason is our reputation for excellence. Another is simply our proximity to the City of Gulfport. We are literally the closest law firm to Gulfport. Our office is only six or seven blocks from the edge of Gulfport and less than a mile from Boca Ciega High School. I attended Stetson College of Law and lived in at the Pasadena Golf Club Apartments on Gulfport Blvd for three years. Needless to say, I know Gulfport, the people, the Gulfport Police Department and how to handle injury cases from this area.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you will likely have many questions about what steps to take, who you will need to speak to, how to have your medical bills paid, and how a car accident claim works. This article is written to assistance those who have been injured navigate the complexities of a car accident claim.
Damage to Your Car- Who handles it and can you get a rental car?
Even before the full impact of your injuries is understood, most people are concerned with how to get their car fixed or replaced. If you choose to have your car repaired at a body shop selected by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you will be entitled to a rental car during the time it is in the shop. If you get your car repaired at a body shop through your own insurance company, you will likely only qualify for a rental car if you have specifically purchased this insurance. The upside to working with your own company is that they will take better care of you. The downside is that you will have to pay your deductible and then hope that the other insurance company reimburses that money.
If your car is a total loss, you can get a rental car through the at-fault driver’s insurance as long as there is enough money to pay out all property losses and still have enough for a rental car. If you go through your own company, you will have to pay the deductible and only get the rental car if you carry rental car insurance.
What most people do not understand is that you will only be paid the fair market value of your car. All that matters is what your car was worth on the day of the accident, not how much you still owe. This is an unfortunate reality of Florida law. I advise my clients to go to www.kbb.com and research the value of their vehicle so that they are prepared and ready to negotiate the value. If there were any upgrades to the car, those need to be documented so that you recover as much as possible.
Which Insurance Company Do I Need to Speak To?
Under Florida law, you are only obligated to speak to your own insurance company. According to the terms of your motor vehicle insurance, you must report the accident within a reasonable time and cooperate with the investigation. You never have an obligation to speak to the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident.
In every car accident claim, as soon as I am retained, I place the insurance companies on notice that I am involved. This requires them to direct all communication regarding the crash through my office. I have found that being able to control the flow of information regarding the accident greatly assists my clients and helps the case.
Who Pays for my Medical Bills After the Car Accident?
The payment of medical bills after a car crash can be complicated. The good news is that under Florida law, every vehicle must be insured with $10,000 of no fault, or PIP coverage. This PIP coverage pays your medical bills and lost wages up to the $10,000 level. The hard part is who pays the bills after the PIP is exhausted?
If you have health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, you can run your medical treatment through it. Your health insurance will then impose a lien on the money that you recover in the case. This means, you will have to repay that lien before you receive any money. Another option is to run your bills through a letter of protection or LOP. This LOP is an agreement between you, your lawyer and your doctor. It states that the doctor will continue to treat you and you owe him the payment of his bill out of the proceeds of the money that you recover. This is a very common way for people to get treatment from the doctors that they choose without having to pay out of pocket or incur a lien.
How Does a Car Accident Attorney Charge?
Car accident injury cases are handled unlike any other area of law. In car accident cases, the lawyer charges on a contingency, or percentage, of the total amount recovered on the case. Because of the nature of the agreement, if no money is recovered, the client does not owe the lawyer anything. This arrangement makes it very easy for a client to hire the best car accident lawyer that they can find. The arrangement is also no risk to the client. The fees that the lawyer charges are governed by The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar 4-1.5. In this rule, the lawyer can charge 33% if a case settles without a lawsuit and 40% if the case ends up in suit. All fees against a state or government agency are capped at 25% regardless if the case settles or goes to a lawsuit.
How Long Will my Car Accident Case Last?
The length of the case depends on the type of treatment that you receive and the amount of insurance that is available. For example, you wouldn’t want to receive medical treatment for an extended period of time and run up a $20,000 bill if there was only $10,000 of insurance to recover, right? In circumstances where there is limited money to pay for your losses, my office is very good at getting those cases settled within a couple of months.
But, in most scenarios, the length of the case revolves around what type of medical treatment you receive. I use these timelines as an aspirational rule of thumb. If you only have soft tissue injuries and only get conservative treatment like chiropractic or physical therapy, your treatment should be over within 6 months. If you decided to get injections, then extend the treatment a few months. If your case ends is a surgery, then add a few more months to the total. But, in almost every case, your case should be ready for a demand for the insurance company within 1 year. If the case is unable to be settled and ends up in a lawsuit, add 18-24 months before the case results in a trial.
Contact a Gulfport Car Accident Attorney
At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in car accidents that occur in Gulfport, Florida. We have handled countless claims over the years and are the lawyers that people who live in Gulfport choose to hire. If you or a loved one would like to discuss a possible claim, then please contact us for a free consultation.