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Florida Car Accidents: Insurance Question

April 21, 2009

The following is an expert answer given by Florida Auto Accidents Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from AllExperts.com, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Subject: Insurance Claim

Question: My friend and I were in a car accident. I was driving. My insurance contacted her and led her to believe that $25,000 was the max my policy covered when $50,000 is the max. They offered to pay her medical bills (except the air lift bill) and some compensation. In a panic, she signed the papers. Is there a period of time in this type of contract were she can change her decision? Should they cover the airlift (helicopter) charges?

Answer: I am in Florida, so I can only speak to how your friend signing the papers would affect her rights in regarding Florida car accidents.  I am assuming what she signed was a release which released the insurance company from any further claims by your friend against her own insurance company.  In Florida, in order for a release to be binding, there has to be a knowing and voluntary release of a known right.  If the insurance company misrepresented the policy limits to your friend, and she signed the release based upon the insurance company’s misrepresentation, she most likely has not knowingly and voluntarily given up known rights, i.e. she didn’t even know what the actual policy limits were, so there is no way for her to give up a right she doesn’t know about.    Additionally, an intentional misrepresentation made by a party (the insurance company) which is relied upon by another party (your friend) and which causes damages (giving up the right to collect another $25,000) can be considered fraud in Florida.  Fraud is another basis to invalidate a release signed between parties.   If she signed a release, a release is a contract between your friend and the insurance company. Contracts in Florida can be contested for 5 years after the contract is signed.  This is known as the Statute of Limitations.  Also, medical bills arising out of Florida car accidents are covered by Personal Injury Insurance Coverage (PIP) which is a mandatory insurance coverage for anybody that owns a car in Florida.  This type of coverage is separate from coverage for bodily injury.  It carries separate policy limits, usually $10,000.  The insurance company should pay for the air lift bill unless the PIP benefits were exhausted.  Air lift bills are usually very expensive though, so the PIP may have been exhausted.  My advice to your friend is to speak with an attorney that specializes in Florida car accidents as soon as possible.  There are certain insurance companies that will actually show up at the scene of an accident and have a driver sign a release before ever knowing what the true extent of their injuries and damages are.  In some of these cases, the release has been invalidated.  You and or your friend should contact an lawyer in your area that specializes in  car accident claims, and do it soon.  Most Florida car accidents lawyers handle the claims on a contingent basis, i.e. their attorney fees are a percentage of any money they recover for you.  If they don’t recover anything for you, you don’t owe anything. Most Florida car accidents lawyers also offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss whether you have a viable case.  If there is another $25,000 in coverage available, you and your friend probably have a case to pursue.  If you are in Florida, I would be happy to speak with you or your friend about your rights.  

For more information about Florida car accidents, contact the Florida auto accident lawyers at Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529 or email them today.

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