Key PIP “No-Fault” Coverage Issues That You Must Know About After A Florida Car Wreck.

Key PIP “No-Fault” Coverage Issues That You Must Know About After A Florida Car Wreck.
Published: May 11, 2022

What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Or No-Fault Coverage?

There are only 13 states in the United States that require every driver to purchase and maintain personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Florida is one of those 13 states. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000.00 in personal injury protection coverage, which is also known as “no fault” coverage. This coverage is personal in that it insures the policyholder for the benefit of the policy. 

Initial Medical Care Time Limit And PIP Coverage

An injured party must seek medical care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident or they lose up to $10,000.00 in case value, F.S. 627.736 (1) (a).

Initial care must be provided by a medical doctor (M.D.), doctor of osteopathy (D.O.), dentist, chiropractor, hospital, facility owned by a hospital, or by emergency medical personnel (EMS) F.S. 627.736 (1) (a)1.

How Do I Pay My Medical Bills After A Car Wreck?

If you are injured, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage from your own policy will pay for bills up to $10,000. Florida requires drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Projection coverage. Under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law, most injured drivers seek reimbursement for accident costs from their own carrier, regardless of who caused the collision.

If your bills are higher, your own health insurance should pay for your additional medical expenses once your PIP has been exhausted. If you do not have health insurance, some providers will treat you with an agreement to be paid out of your settlement. This agreement is set up between your lawyer and the medical provider.

Emergency Medical Condition From Accident and Personal Injury Protection Coverage.

The $10,000.00 PIP limit only applies to a M.D., D.O., dentist, P.A., or APRN determining that the injured person “had” an emergency medical condition (chiropractors cannot do this). F.S. 627.736 (1) (a)3

If no emergency medical condition is documented by the proper professional, then you will only have $2,500.00 of the $10,000.00 PIP benefits. F.S. 627.(1)(a)4.

PIP cannot be used for massage therapists and acupuncturists. F.S. 627.736 (1) (a) 5.

What Type of Recovery Am I Entitled To After a Car Accident?

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, some of the damages you may seek can include:

  • Vehicle and personal property damage
  • Present and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Wrongful deathThe PIP death benefit is $5,000.00 in addition to the $10,000.00 of PIP coverage. 627.736 (1) c. F. S.

Pip Coverage Follows You No Matter What Car You Are In At The Time Of The Wreck. 

If you do not qualify for PIP under your policy and there is no auto policy in your house that you qualify for PIP under, then you may qualify for PIP in the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the wreck.

PIP coverage can assist you as an injured party in a car wreck. It can aid you in getting the treatment necessary to diagnose or be the diagnosis of your car wreck-related injuries.

It should be noted that “no-fault” insurance refers to injuries and medical bills. If your car was damaged in an accident, means the other driver was at fault and you were not at fault the cost to repair your vehicle would fall to the at fault drivers insurance policy.

How Much Will An Attorney Cost Me?

In Florida, most injury cases are paid for with a “Contingency Fee.” That means, your lawyer will be paid from any recovery. If you do not recover, the lawyer is not paid. The standard fee for Florida lawyers is 33.3 percent before suit is filed, 40 percent after suit is filed.

This contingency fee is standard across Florida and approved by the Florida Bar. Your lawyer generally cannot charge more, absent unusual circumstances.You can hire the most experienced expert in personal injury law for the same fee as a lawyer without similar expertise or experience. It makes sense to hire a board certified civil trial lawyer under these circumstances.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

How Does PIP Work If You Have Another Car Accident in Florida?

How Does PIP Work If You Have Another Car Accident in Florida?
Published: January 24, 2022

It’s happened to so many drivers in Florida –  multiple auto accidents in a short period of time. If you are not sure if you have enough (or any) coverage to pay for your injuries from multiple car accidents that are a week apart, a month apart, or even a year apart, it’s a good idea to take the time to learn about PIP (Personal Injury Protection) before you need to file so you are prepared for what’s ahead.

What is PIP?

Florida is one of ten states that have personal injury protection (no-fault) automobile insurance. In Florida, PIP coverage is required to be purchased by all owners of motor vehicles registered in the state. Individuals with personal injury protection (PIP) coverage are held responsible for their own injuries, regardless of who is at fault. The intention of this was to provide injured drivers with up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage without establishing fault through the court system. The goal was to reduce payment delays and avoid the court system.

How Does PIP Work?

After the deductible, PIP benefits currently cover 80% of medical bills, including out-of-pocket prescription costs and rehab services. It can also pay up to 60% of lost wages (with proper documentation) and reimburse you for mileage to and from your doctor.

The total amount payable is $10,000, no matter how much your bills are. Keep in mind that the average emergency room visit usually costs much more than $10,000, so it is important to have health insurance in place.

PIP pays up to $10,000 for an “emergency medical condition.” An emergency medical condition is defined as an ailment that requires immediate medical attention and could reasonably be expected to result in serious jeopardy to the injured person’s health.

You can use PIP coverage no matter who was at fault for the accident. Some of the expenses that PIP typically covers include:

  • Doctor bills
  • Surgery costs
  • Hospital stays
  • Medications
  • Medical testing
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation

To receive Florida no-fault (PIP) insurance benefits, you must require emergency medical treatment after an accident. You must seek treatment within 14 days of a car crash; otherwise, the insurer will likely deny your claim.

If you timely seek treatment, then your bills up to $10,000 should be paid.

Florida PIP Coverage and the Right To Recover for Your Injuries Caused by an At-Fault Driver

PIP is meant to help cover the cost of medical treatment after a car accident, however, many medical expenses and lost wages exceed $10,000. The injured person will need to seek the counsel of an experienced car accident lawyer to represent them in their case to hold the responsible at-fault driver liable for their medical expenses. The injured person may also bring a claim against the driver who caused the wreck for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.

Considering the average hospital stay after an accident is around $60,000 it is probably wise to also have a good amount of uninsured (UM) motorist coverage. While Florida does not make that coverage mandatory, it is highly recommended to add UM/UIM coverage to your car insurance policy – because many times the at-fault driver does not have enough car insurance coverage to pay for your injuries.

How Many Times Can You Use Your PIP?

You may submit a PIP claim to your insurance company every time you are injured. This is the case, whether the accident was your fault or not. If you are unfortunate enough to have several wrecks, it will pay for the treatment of each one.

The Florida statute of limitations, according to Florida Statutes Section 95.11(3)(a) for a car accident claim where you are injured, allows only four years from the date of the accident to take legal action. This four-year statute of limitations also applies to property damage claims.

Exhausting your PIP coverage does not mean that you may no longer be treated for your injuries. If you have health insurance, you will be covered under your policy for ongoing medical bills, but you may have to pay out of your own pocket initially for these expenses.

It is good practice to seek advice from an experienced car accident lawyer before moving forward with seeking damages from the at-fault party.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

How Does PIP Coverage Affect You In An Accident?

How Does PIP Coverage Affect You In An Accident?
Published: January 24, 2015

If you’ve suffered an injury in an auto accident and are looking for a Pensacola personal injury lawyer, there have been significant changes to the law over the last year that you need to be aware of. Particularly important is a recent ruling that more clearly defines when an insurer must pay full Extended Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” to victims of auto accidents. Legal precedent that had long been in place has finally been overturned, holding insurance companies accountable. No longer can these organizations take advantage of their consumers, as Florida courts have definitively stopped allowing them to shirk their responsibilities by inserting vague and ambiguous liability limiting language into their policies.

What Is PIP coverage?

Let’s first start with what any good Pensacola personal injury lawyer should explain clearly to a potential client: a PIP provides medical and disability benefits to drivers, passengers, injured bystanders, and others related to the insured. Florida state law mandates that 80% of reasonable costs must be covered by the PIP up to $10,000, and any additional purchased coverage is referred to as “Extended Personal Injury Protection.”

Prior to June of 2014, if there was a dispute on this matter, an insured individual and their Pensacola personal injury lawyer would be fighting against case law that had consistently sided with big insurance companies who were trying to “put one over” on the very people they were supposed to be protecting. It had become commonplace for insurance companies to utilize complex and confusing language that would be nearly indiscernible to the average consumer, rendering their Extended PIP useless and ultimately resulting in the insured not being covered properly during their time of need.

How Has The Way PIP Coverage Affects You In An Accident Changed?

Luckily, this injustice is no longer a problem, and a skilled and caring Pensacola personal injury lawyer can navigate this language for you very clearly. In June of 2014, in Spaid v. Integon Indemnity Corporation, the First District ruled in favor of a plaintiff who was fighting this very issue: an insurance company stating that it had liability limits that were agreed to by the insured. The court recognized the underhanded drafting of these agreements and set clear precedent against the practice. If it turns out that the insurance company did not state their intention “clearly and unambiguously” then they are not going to wriggle off the hook.

So going forward, courts will look at the plain language of a policy to determine coverage limits. If there is any ambiguity at all, it goes in favor of the plaintiff, not the well-endowed insurance companies.

If you have suffered an automobile accident or are embroiled in a dispute with your insurer and are seeking counsel, Zarzaur Law, P.A. is the premier law firm in Pensacola for such matters. Lead lawyer Joe Zarzaur is the top Pensacola personal injury lawyer and consistently gets results. For more information on this type of case, please feel free to contact the firm at 855-HIREJOE, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up After a Car Accident in Florida?

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up After a Car Accident in Florida?
Published: January 23, 2023

Being in a car accident in Florida can be frightening and even life-changing. After you have determined your injuries and damages to your vehicle and contacted an attorney, etc., the next scary and valid concern is “Will my insurance rates go up because of a car accident?”

 

Factors That Contribute To Insurance Rate Increases

Some of the most commonly reviewed factors that insurance companies consider when determining your car insurance premium include:

Driving history
Credit score
Age
Zip code
History of making claims

 

How Do Credit Scores Affect Car Insurance Rates?

A driver’s credit score has a noticeable effect on car insurance prices. The vast majority of insurers use credit scores as a factor.

Your credit score, also called a FICO Score, is calculated based on five factors, all related to your borrowing history and current situation.

 

 

Payment history: 35%
Amount owed: 30%
Length of credit history: 15%
Mix of credit types: 10%
New credit: 10%

Credit scores range from 300 to 850. They are often divided into several tiers.

A credit-based insurance score doesn’t measure how creditworthy you are, but rather how risky you are from an auto insurance perspective, based on your creditworthiness.

 

Per Florida Statutes §626.9541,
your car insurance should
not go up after an accident
unless you were “substantially at fault.”

 

Rate increases based on an at-fault accident can stay in effect for three to five years. This can quickly add up, which is why proving the other party’s fault is so crucial.

 

Florida Is A No-Fault State

As a no-fault state, persons involved in a car accident are required to file a claim with their insurance company first. Regardless of who caused the Florida car accident, accident victims must contact their insurance company to file a claim under their PIP insurance policy.

 

But The Accident Wasn’t Your Fault

If you weren’t at fault for an accident, it might not count against you at all.

States take varying approaches. In the 12 states with no-fault insurance, your insurance rates are more likely to go up after a crash, even if you aren’t at fault. That’s because in these states, everyone involved in an accident makes claims to their insurance policies for their own injuries (and their passengers’ injuries). So your insurer must pay on your behalf, regardless of whether you caused the crash.

 

But some states (like Florida)
prohibit insurance companies
from raising your premium
if the accident wasn’t your fault.

 

If you are not liable for a car accident, your insurance rates should not increase. Rates should only increase when you are at-fault for an accident that causes injuries or other damages.

For example, the following situation should not result in an increase in your insurance rates:

  • You were the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
  • Your car was hit by another vehicle when it was legally parked.
  • Your car was rear-ended by another vehicle.
  • Your car was T-boned by another vehicle.
  • Your car was side-swiped by another vehicle.
  • A collision with an animal or damage caused by falling or flying objects

Be aware that your insurance company may require documentation that supports the fact that you were not at-fault for the accident. You may be asked to provide a copy of the police report, a statement from the other driver’s insurance company showing they accept fault for the accident, the other driver’s written statement, a statement from you about what happened, and any other evidence to support that you were not at fault. This is where an experienced car accident/personal injury attorney, like Joe Zarzaur, can help guide you through this process and help protect your rights.

 

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC >

 

What Should You Do If You Are In A Florida Car Accident?

1. Call the police and file a report.
2. Swap information (including any insurance information they may have).
3. Gather details.
4. Take pictures/video
5. Gather the contact information of any witnesses.
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries, no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT OUR “Car Wreck Checklist” >

 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm has been promoting community safety since 2007. AT ZARZAUR LAW, WE PRACTICE IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS: SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY, PRODUCT DEFECT, AUTO ACCIDENTS, CYCLING ACCIDENTS, MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS, PRODUCT LIABILITY, WRONGFUL DEATH, COMMUNITY SAFETY, BOAT, AND JET SKI ACCIDENTS, AND SLIP AND FALL. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful, and we want to make the process as easy as possible for you.

Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

https://www.valuepenguin.com/how-does-your-credit-score-affect-auto-insurance-rates

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/rate-increase-poor-credit/

https://www.thezebra.com/resources/research/credit-insurance-rates/

https://www.autoinsurance.org/what-auto-insurance-companies-use-a-credit-score/

What If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Coverage? 

What If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Coverage? 
Published: November 28, 2022

A car accident is a scary situation in itself, especially if you have suffered injuries. What can be even more frightening is when the driver who caused the accident is underinsured. How can this be? Why doesn’t the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough auto insurance to cover your injury claim?

Unfortunately, in Florida, a licensed driver is NOT required to carry bodily injury liability insurance (BI coverage). Because of a strong insurance lobby, the Florida legislature has not seen the need to require drivers to carry insurance to compensate others for an injury. In fact, only Florida and New Hampshire have this situation.

When this happens, an experienced auto accident lawyer will ask if you or someone in your household has Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage. Hopefully, they (as well as you) will have this critical coverage.

What Is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage?

Underinsured motorist coverage provides the same protection when there is a deficiency in the liability coverage. In other words, if your injuries are worth more than the coverage of the person who caused them, you can recover the difference. The purpose of this coverage is to allow an insured the same coverage that would have been available if the negligent driver had liability coverage equal to the insured.

So What Does This Mean In Real Life?

Under Florida law, if you purchase liability coverage, the insurance company must also offer you UM/UIM coverage in the same amount. A potential buyer can turn that down, or buy lower limits of coverage, and many do. That’s why they are surprised when it turns out they don’t have “full coverage.” The bottom line is that if you drive in Florida, there are a lot of drivers with no liability coverage or little liability coverage.

In Florida, Auto Insurance Is Required.

Driving without auto insurance can lead to all sorts of problems. Florida drivers must always have the minimum required car insurance. The minimum car insurance requirement in Florida is $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL).

If you drive without auto insurance in Florida, you should be aware of all of the unpleasant consequences you may face if you are caught by law enforcement or involved in an auto accident.

Examples include license suspension, license plate confiscation, and even potential criminal charges. If you want to protect yourself from these awful scenarios, you need to make sure that you always have auto insurance coverage, plain and simple.

You need to buy UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your family from these drivers.

Unfortunately, about 13 percent of drivers do not carry auto insurance, even though they drive regularly.

Do You Know What To Do After An Accident With An Uninsured Motorist?

underinsured motoristFollowing a car accident, many victims, especially those with injuries like spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injuries, have substantial medical bills to worry about. Not only that, their injuries may also prevent them from returning to work and generating the income they need to pay those bills.

If you have been injured in a car accident involving an underinsured motorist, and you have UIM or UM coverage, your personal injury lawyer can file a claim with your insurance company to compensate you for the harm you have suffered. Some damages that may be available for you to claim include:

Medical Bills – If you have been hit and have suffered injuries in an accident, you can make a claim to cover the costs of any medical bills resulting from these injuries. This can include bills for hospital appointments, transport to and from these appointments, and any future medical expenses you incur as a result.

Lost Wages – Your uninsured motorist coverage covers any financial losses you’ve suffered as a result of the accident, including lost wages. This can include any potential future earnings you would have made.

Pain and Suffering – If you have UM coverage, you may be able to recover compensation for any pain and suffering as a result of the collision. In order to receive these damages, you must prove that your injuries meet a “permanent injury threshold,” as provided under Florida Statute 627.737.

Wrongful Death – A lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim under your uninsured motorist coverage to recover compensation for funeral costs and a loss of consortium.

What Steps Should You Take Right After An Accident With An Underinsured Motorist?

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses

Get more helpful information on what to do after an accident here at our
“CAR WRECK CHECKLIST” >

5. Work with a trusted car accident lawyer.
A car accident lawyer, like the team at Zarzaur Law, can offer numerous advantages following an accident, including an accident with an underinsured motorist.

A car accident attorney can:

Provide you with the information you need.
An attorney can review your insurance policies and help you understand the compensation you deserve, investigate the circumstances of the accident to identify potentially liable parties, and give you a better idea of how your claim will proceed, should you choose to file one.

Negotiate with your insurance company.
Your insurance company may make it difficult for you to get the full compensation you need for your injuries, damages to your vehicle, and other financial losses. An attorney can help negotiate with the insurance company or even fight for you in court if needed.

Support you throughout the claim.
In many cases, an attorney can offer vital support that can help you navigate the claim process, obtain the compensation you deserve, and decrease your stress while you focus on your recovery.

Put together a claim for damages on your behalf.
The legal process is often complex, and the dueling interests of insurance companies, attorneys, and liable parties make it extremely difficult for an unrepresented plaintiff to obtain the compensation they actually deserve under the law. By partnering with an experienced car accident attorney, you can maximize your odds of a successful recovery from your injuries.

The laws on UM/UIM vary from state to state, so if you have coverage from another state, you need to let a board certified personal injury specialist review the policy for coverage.

The statute of limitations for making a claim against your UM/UIM coverage is 5 years from the date of injury. Again, this may vary from state to state, but it is very important to seek legal help as soon as possible after the crash or injury.

As you can see, UM/UIM coverage is very important.
In many cases, it may be the only insurance coverage available to protect you and your family if you are injured.

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car wreck while “on the job” feel free to reach out to our firm for a free consultation at zarzaurlaw.com or 855HireJoe.

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/car-insurance/uninsured-motorist-coverage/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/insurance/uninsured-motorist-property-damage

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.727.html

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/hit-uninsured-motorist-what-you-should-know

Proving Permanent Injury In A Florida Car Accident Case

Proving Permanent Injury In A Florida Car Accident Case
Published: October 17, 2022

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, and you called a personal injury lawyer like Joe Zarzaur to handle your case. It sounds simple, but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as those described.

Florida No Fault Law

Florida is a no-fault automobile insurance state. This means that drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP) to pay for their medical expenses and other accident-related damages, regardless of who caused the collision.

In Florida, Treatment And Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

What Is A Permanent Injury?

Florida law defines the term permanent injury. Under Florida’s no-fault law, which is §627.737, subsection two, a permanent injury is: 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; or d) death.

Under this law, if a claimant is able to show that the other vehicle was at fault and caused the plaintiff’s injuries, they will be able to recover any out-of-pocket medical bills incurred (the money owing after the PIP pays; usually PIP pays at 80 percent), any future medical bills, any lost wages, the loss of ability to earn money in the future, as well as any other out-of-pocket expenses legally shown.

How Do You Prove Permanent Injury In Florida?

A diagnosis of permanent injury must be made by the victim’s treating medical doctor.

In court, a permanent injury is generally proven by the expert testimony of the treating medical doctor or doctors. If the treating doctor testifies to a permanent injury, then the plaintiff has made a prima facie case for pain and suffering.

You Must Prove the Other Driver That Hit You Was Negligent

To receive any compensation for any losses, you must first prove that the driver responsible for the accident was negligent. While you may have to sue other parties involved, roughly 95% of car crashes result from careless driving.

[ ROUGHLY 95% OF CAR CRASHES
RESULT FROM CARELESS DRIVING ]

What Is The Tort Threshold In Florida?

The Tort Threshold, also known as the “No Fault” Threshold, is compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, paralysis, and other physical injuries that are known as non-economic damages. In Florida, most motor vehicle accidents will only provide the plaintiff with money if they suffer a permanent injury (diagnosed by a treating medical doctor). 

The tort threshold in Florida is a law stating that victims of personal injury accidents must sustain one of four types of injuries in order to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish.

Injuries That Make Up The Tort Threshold 

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

d) Death

What are Some Permanent Car Accident Injuries?

Some of the most common permanent injuries commonly seen in car accidents in Florida include the following:

Neck and back injuries

Lacerations

Burns

Soft tissue injuries

Bone fractures

Loss of limbs

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

Head injuries

Nerve damage

What are the Possible Permanent or Long-Term Consequences of a Car Accident?

Victims of a car accident can experience a variety of long-term effects and health issues, including the following:

Cognitive problems

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety and depression

Chronic pain

Paralysis

Death

Financial problems

Strained relationships with caregivers or loved ones

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT OUR “Car Wreck Checklist” >

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.737.html

 

Why Won’t My Primary Care Physician Treat Me For My Car Accident Injuries?

Why Won’t My Primary Care Physician Treat Me For My Car Accident Injuries?
Published: October 13, 2022

According to Driver Knowledge, three million people in the U.S. are injured every year in car accidents. While many car accident victims want to turn their primary care physician for treatment for their injuries, however many victims are surprised to learn that their primary care physician will not treat them for the injuries sustained in a car accident. 

[ THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S.
ARE INJURED EVERY YEAR
IN CAR ACCIDENTS ]

Why Is That? 

While Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Facilities are required to treat individuals, doctors and other specialists who practice outside of a hospital/emergency room setting are not subject to these laws and are free to choose which patients and injuries they wish to treat or not treat. This includes car accident victims.

Insurance and Payments Headaches for Doctors

Most doctors’ offices are set up to bill a patient’s health insurance. In Florida, for accident victims (particularly car accident victims) automobile insurance is the primary payment source. Your bills will most likely need to be submitted to your PIP (Personal Injury Protection). Your health insurance will deny the claim until your car insurance has paid the first $10,000.

The process for submission and reimbursement for PIP can be a minefield for doctors and take longer and in the end affect how they get paid. So many physicians don’t want to deal with accident injury cases.

Injuries Outside The Scope Of Physicians’ Expertise

If you suffer an injury that falls outside of the scope of expertise of your primary physician, they may not be comfortable offering treatment. Your primary physician (and your attorney) may refer you to a specialist who deals with accident injuries. 

Documentation

Any doctor that is treating you for an accident injury must keep extremely thorough records of everything since it can affect the compensation you will receive in your case.  All injuries must be documented properly with complete and 100% accurate information. The documents, statements, X-rays, MRI, and crash-related medical records are vital in getting the maximum compensation from the insurance company. 

Litigation

Any doctor who has treated your accident-related injuries may be called upon to testify if your injury case goes to court. Even if the doctor is not called to testify, he or she may still be asked to give a deposition to the attorneys in the case. Many times your primary care doctor lacks the experience to testify in court and may be unwilling to spend the time it takes to be in court and away from their patients. 

On the other hand, physicians who typically treat accident injuries are usually familiar with the legal process, and they know how to give testimony that will show the true nature of the victim’s injury.

So, What Can You Do? 

Speak with your lawyer. Your personal injury attorney can suggest doctors and specialists that have helped other personal injury clients. 

The most important thing to do after an accident is to seek necessary medical treatment during the life of your personal injury case. If you are in a car wreck you should immediately seek care at your nearest Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility to rule out any life-threatening injuries.

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT OUR “Car Wreck Checklist” >

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.driverknowledge.com/car-accident-statistics/

How Long Will It Take To Settle My Personal Injury Case?

How Long Will It Take To Settle My Personal Injury Case?
Published: October 7, 2022

Very few personal injury cases (which include car accident cases) actually go to trial. Most end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to reach a settlement is hard to predict and can vary drastically. A claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to settle because the insurer will fight harder over it. 

A settlement may also take longer to reach if the case is complex or the liability (at fault) is unclear.

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, and you called a personal injury lawyer like Joe Zarzaur to handle your case. It sounds simple, but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as those described.

Many clients are surprised at how long it takes to resolve their car wreck case.

While it is true that the rare case is resolved in a few weeks, most are not, and sometimes take years to settle. Why?

How Much Insurance Coverage is Available?

There are certain procedures that are common in all car wreck cases. After you hire a personal injury lawyer, the first thing to do is find out the insurance details. Florida law requires insurers of Florida residents to disclose all liability coverage within 30 days of demand. While some companies provide this information more quickly, most do not. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will send a request to your own insurance company to determine the limits of your medical coverage and also if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

This coverage protects you and allows you to make a claim for your injuries if the at-fault driver has little or no bodily injury coverage. The lawyer will also put your health insurers on notice of the claim, as they may also be responsible for paying for treatment after the no-fault (PIP or Personal Injury Protection) coverage is exhausted. This process is extremely important as the value of your claim is often determined by the insurance coverage available. It may be several weeks before your lawyer even knows how much coverage is available.

Treatment and Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

The Demand and Negotiation Phase

After the extent of your injury is known, a demand is made by your lawyer on your behalf to the at-fault party’s insurance company. An experienced and board-certified trial lawyer will have the benefit of knowing the value of such cases and will know how to properly negotiate with the insurance company. Make sure your personal injury lawyer has a reputation as one who will fight to get you the most for your accident claim. Companies know that experienced trial lawyers will take a case to trial if necessary and will pay accordingly.

The negotiation phase may take weeks or months, depending on the nature of the claim along with the availability of medical records and the insurance coverage.

If the at-fault party does not have enough coverage to fairly settle your claim, and you have underinsured motorist coverage, then an additional negotiation will occur with your own insurance company.

What if Your Car Wreck Case Does Not Settle?

A small percentage of cases do not settle at the presuit stage and must be filed in court. In other words, if the insurance company is not fair with its offer, the case must move on to the litigation stage. Your lawyer will file a suit in circuit court seeking damages. This process may take many months to get these cases ultimately resolved.

Litigation Process Includes:

Discovery Phase

To determine the nature of the injuries and the value of the claim.

Mediation

The courts will require a mediation session to try and resolve the case.

Trial

If a case cannot be resolved through mediation, the case will be scheduled for trial in court.

While most cases settle before trial, it may take many months to get this done.

This is a Marathon and Not a Sprint

While your car wreck case may seem simple, even simple cases can take a long time to get resolved. Between treatment, negotiation, possible litigation, or even trial, the process can seem overwhelming. That is why you need to hire an experienced trial lawyer to handle your case.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm has been dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defects, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. 

Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Sources:

https://www.flhsmv.gov/insurance/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwCo_9H0xM&list=PLnCrJ0tzzzL6mRs3arN7h5wlrAbevkMq0&index=13&t=115s

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liability_insurance.asp

https://zarzaurlaw.com/what-is-um-coverage-and-why-is-it-important/

https://www.justia.com/injury/faqs/

What Is An EMC (Emergency Medical Condition) And Why Is It Important For My Florida Car Wreck Case?

What Is An EMC (Emergency Medical Condition) And Why Is It Important For My Florida Car Wreck Case?
Published: May 16, 2022

What is an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) and Why It’s Important?

Florida is one of only 13 other states in the US that has no-fault car insurance laws. Basically, these states require each driver to purchase their own injury coverage for car wrecks. If a wreck occurs between Florida drivers, then both the at-fault party and the victim have “no-fault” or “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. These PIP benefits are available for each party’s own medical bills and lost wages WITHOUT regard to fault. So even the at-fault driver is entitled to their own policy’s PIP benefits for their injuries and lost wages But, what about an emergency medical condition?

Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) From Accident and Personal Injury Protection Coverage.

When this law was first passed in Florida, all parties to a car wreck were immediately entitled to the entire $10,000.00 from the wreck until the entire amount had been paid out or exhausted. However, years of abuse of this benefit made the Florida legislature pass reforms to the PIP laws, making it harder to access the entire $10,000.00 benefit.

Under the current version of the PIP statute, parties are only entitled to $2,500.00 of the $10,000.00 PIP benefit at the outset. To access the remaining $7,500.00, the injured party must be diagnosed with an emergency medical condition, or “EMC.” 

EMC Is Defined As:

“Emergency medical condition” means a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:

(a) Serious jeopardy to patient health.

(b) Serious impairment to bodily functions.

(c) Serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

An EMC can only be found by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, dentist, physician assistant, or APRN.

Omitted from this list are chiropractors, and it was the intent of the Florida legislature to remove chiropractors from the approval process in regards to PIP benefits.

EMCs can be diagnosed in real-time or later in your treatment. For example, if you go through the initial treatment and then realize that PIP only paid $2,500.00 since there was no documented EMC, So long as a physician is able to say that you “had” an EMC related to the car wreck at any point, then you will be eligible for the entire $10,000.00 benefit.

PIP Coverage Follows You No Matter What Car You Are In At The Time Of The Wreck. 

If you do not qualify for PIP under your policy and there is no auto policy in your house that you qualify for PIP under, then you may qualify for PIP in the vehicle you were occupying at the time of the wreck.

PIP coverage can assist you as an injured party in a car wreck. It can aid you in getting the treatment necessary to diagnose or be the diagnosed of your car wreck-related injuries.

Injuries And Medical Bills

It should be noted that “no-fault” insurance refers to injuries and medical bills. If your car was damaged in an accident, which means the other driver was at fault and you were not at fault the cost to repair your vehicle would fall to the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

This is a significant issue for your case since these PIP benefits can be used to pay for valuable treatment related to your Florida car wreck case.

At the end of your case, all medical bills have to be paid, and if your health insurance pays for them, you will be required to reimburse your health insurance.  PIP benefits, however, do not have to be paid back or reimbursed.

So, it’s in your best interest to use all of these benefits before you start using your own health insurance or start accumulating medical bills to be paid out of your own pocket.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO  >

Learn More About What To Do If You Are In An Accident From Our Car Wreck Checklist >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you or a loved one was involved in a Florida car wreck and/or has Florida PIP questions, please feel free to reach out to our firm at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855HireJoe.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.736.html

Important Information About Water Safety For Florida Parents

Important Information About Water Safety For Florida Parents
Published: May 13, 2022

The month of May is a time to celebrate National Water Safety Month. The entire month of May has been officially dedicated as a time to bring awareness and education about water safety to the general community. This initiative is coordinated by the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, with support from the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association, and the World Waterpark Association. Read on for more information on water safety for Florida parents

There are 10.4 million residential and 309,000 public swimming pools and an additional 7.3 million hot tubs operating in the U.S.

Over the summer, 8 out of 10 Americans are planning to swim in a pool. For children and teens between the ages of 7 and 17, swimming remains the #1 most popular recreational activity.

Child Drownings In The United States Have Reached A Ten-Year High.

Pediatric drowning rates reached a 10-year record high. National Water Safety Month is May. Water is a “silent killer” for children. Child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among U.S. children ages 1 to 4, according to the CPSC. Three-quarters of those deaths involved children younger than the age of 5, and 83% of those occurred in residential pools.

Florida Set A New Low In 2021.

Florida hit a grim new record in 2021, reporting the most child drownings since at least 2009.

The Florida Department of Children and Families report shows that deaths rose from 69 in 2020 to 98 in 2021. Twenty-four of those children drowned in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Sarasota, and Manatee counties.

Before letting your children hit the water this summer, remember these few tips to ensure it’s an enjoyable and safe experience.

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water. The designated adult water watcher should not read, text, use a phone, or otherwise be distracted while watching children. This advice includes situations involving bathtubs, buckets, decorative ponds, and fountains.
  • If you own a pool or spa, install layers of barriers to prevent an unsupervised child from getting into the water. These measures can include door alarms, pool covers, and self-closing, self-latching devices on doors that access the pool and on gates of four-sided fences.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim. Contact your local YMCA about swimming lessons.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapment. Your pool or spa should have drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you’re not sure, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.

What About Beach Swimming?

Swimming in open water is much different than swimming in a pool, but most people are not aware of the dangers, especially for children. Florida’s beaches are a glittering playground made of sun and sand–and by all means, you should enjoy the water!

You can splash in the shallows, ride the waves, or just bob up and down in the surf.

But before you dip one toe in the ocean, make sure you know these simple ocean swimming safety rules to keep you safe.

Swimming in the ocean or a large body of water is different than swimming in a pool or most small lakes. You’ll need to watch out for:

  • Riptides and undercurrents
  • Unexpected changes
  • Drop-off water depths
  • Rocks, debris, and other hazards and obstacles.
  • Whether there’s local marine life that can sting or bite
  • Boats, ships, and other watercraft that may be in the water at the same time.
  • There is bad weather in the area, such as lightning or thunderstorms.
  • Hurricane warnings

What Do Beach Flag Colors Mean?

The list below outlines what the colored flags you’ll see posted at the beach generally mean. Your local beach may differ slightly, though.

Ask a lifeguard or beach patrol if you aren’t sure what the flag means before entering the water.

  • Double red flag: water closed, no public swimming
  • Red flag: high hazard of surf and/or currents
  • Yellow flag: medium hazard or moderate surf and/or currents
  • Purple flag: dangerous marine life such as jellyfish, stingrays, or dangerous fish
  • Green flag: low hazard, calm conditions
  • Black and white checkered flag: set up along the beach, usually as a pair, to indicate separate sections to help keep swimmers and surfers safely apart in the water

Florida Residential Pool Safety Act

Protecting these young children was the reason the Florida Legislature passed the residential pool safety act and homeowners should make certain their pools are in compliance with the Act.

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If your child has been injured or has been a victim of a drowning due to an unsafe pool, hot tub or proper, put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/prevention/drowning-prevention/index.html

Florida statute – http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0515/0515.html

https://www.today.com/parents/morgan-miller-shares-heartbreaking-plea-anniversary-daughter-s-drowning-t221539?cid=sm_npd_td_fb_ma&fbclid=IwAR3BNhSgUz3eUJ2hz_biEVcXXGLsBXC60N4Dm4gg9SA8eJPR2hk0ihWCdTE

https://pinellas.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2022/04/water-safety-month.html

https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2022/05/03/florida-health-offers-advice-for-national-water-safety-month

https://nwsm.phta.org

Water Safety

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety.html

https://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/health-news-florida/2022-01-12/florida-reports-a-rise-in-child-drownings-in-2021

https://www.visitflorida.com/travel-ideas/articles/florida-beaches-ocean-swimming-safety-tips/

Florida hit a grim new record in 2021, reporting the most child drownings since at least 2009.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db413.htm

https://www.wfla.com/8-on-your-side/98-children-drowned-in-florida-in-2021-a-record-number-according-to-state-data/

https://www.cdc.gov/drowning/facts/index.html

https://escambia.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/wellness-programs/health-messages/summer-safety/drowning-prevention/index.html

https://www.flhealthcharts.gov/ChartsReports/rdPage.aspx?rdReport=Death.DataViewer&cid=0105

https://www.flhealthcharts.gov/ChartsReports/rdPage.aspx?rdReport=Death.Dataviewer

https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/drowning

https://www.safekids.org/watersafety

National Water Safety Month Is Celebrated The Entire Month of May

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