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Florida Car Accident: Settlement Question

December 26, 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:

Question:
One month ago, in my vacation time, somebody hit my car from rear. The car was called total loss and I got paid for that. There was a little pain in my back for a few days. I needed to go overseas so I did not seek medical examination and treatment. While overseas, I got a medical examination (x-ray and MRI), the results were all OK and I paid only a very small percent of the actual fees.

When I got back, the insurance company contacted me and offered $300 for settlement. In the pain and suffering perspective, I am OK with the offer. But, although I was out from my company with a paid leave, I have losttime from my holiday time due to time spent in and after accident (medical examination, buying a new car etc). The insurance company’s adjuster told me that, as I was on vacation, they are not going to compensate that.

It does not sound meaningful to me so I wanted to take advice from an expert.

Thank you.

Answer:
I am an attorney in Florida, so I can only speak about what type damages you can recover in a Florida car accident.  If you were injured in a Florida car accident, you can recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, and any other out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Based upon an impact which totaled your car, an offer of $300 is very low, however their offer is going to be based upon whatever injuries you suffered and the amount of medical care you have received.

Your email states that you have lost holiday time due to time spent from the accident.  If you accrue that time, and can be paid whatever time you have accrued if you were to leave the company, then that is an out of pocket expense that you have incurred and the insurance company should have to reimburse you.  If the time you are referring to is just your vacation time, and you would have been taking that time regardless of the accident, then the insurance company is probably not responsible for paying you for that time.  It sounds like the insurance adjustor may be confusing the vacation time being used when the accident occurred, with time spent after you returned from vacation for medical visits and buying a new car.

As for pain and suffering from a Florida car accident, Florida Statute section 627.737 states that "a plaintiff may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease consists in whole or in part of:

(a)  Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.

(b)  Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability,
other than scarring or disfigurement.

(c)  Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement."

The value of your claim depends on a combination of factors such as any lost wages you may have suffered or may suffer in the future, money paid for medical bills, bills that remain outstanding, or medical bills you may have in the future, and pain and suffering, past and future.  So, if you only received a small amount of medical care, I am guessing that there has not been a doctor that has stated you suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident.  Without that type of medical opinion, you are not entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering.  This is most likely the main reason the adjustor is offering such a low amount.

Your state may have different laws, so it is important to check with an attorney specializing in auto accident claims in your area if you intend to pursue the claim further.  My suggestion would be that if you are still experiencing any problems from the injuries, and want to get more medical care, do not settle the case for $300.  Settling at this point would require you signing a General Release which would bar any claims down the road in the event your injures did not go away on their own.  But, if you are going to get more medical care, you should do so now; don’t wait.

If you are in Florida, I would be happy to discuss your claim further.  Most car accident personal injury lawyers will meet with you for a free consultation before you decide to hire a lawyer.  If you are out of Florida, you should definitely try to speak with an experienced car accident personal injury lawyer before you settle your claim.

Good Luck.

For more answers to questions about a Florida car accident, 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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