Category Archives: Insurance Coverage

Florida Car Insurance 101: Part 5 – Your Car Wreck and Personal Injury Protection.

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 coverage.

Florida is one of those 13 states. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, which is also known as “no-fault” coverage. This coverage is personal and it insures the policyholder for the benefit of the policy.

What Does “No-Fault” Mean?

The term “no-fault” indicates that you do not have to prove fault in order to get this PIP benefit. The $10,000 PIP benefit is available to you if you are involved in a wreck. The money can be accessed in one of two ways.

How Does PIP Work?

Medical Care – First, all medical providers that treat you following a wreck can bill the car insurance company directly. The insurance company will pay 80% of any bills submitted to them for car wreck-related treatment.

Lost Wages – The other item that can properly be paid by pip benefits is lost wages. PIP coverage will reimburse you for 60% of lost wages. To gain access to this wage loss benefit under PIP, you have to fill out a PIP loss form. This lost wage form can be obtained from your PIP adjuster who works for your car insurance company.

Emergency Medical Condition

Florida car wreck laws limit your pip recovery to $2,500 and prevent you from receiving the full $10,000 benefit. It is important that you have this EMC (emergency medical condition) diagnosis so that you can take full advantage of the PIP benefits under your car insurance policy.

Florida Car Wreck Laws and How It Affects Your Car Wreck Case

In return for the PIP benefits, the insurance company got protection from lawsuits. Florida car wreck laws (as well as other states that have PIP laws) prohibit cases against negligent drivers until you have been shown to have a permanent injury. So, the trade-off is this. You as a driver will be granted pip benefits without much resistance from the insurance companies, but you will forfeit your right to sue the other driver unless you have been diagnosed with a permanent injury.

The definition of “permanent injury” is not exactly clear, and you certainly can have a permanent injury without having a fracture or requiring surgery. Since this “permanent injury” item is a legal term, it requires legal analysis under your specific facts. If you have questions about a Florida car wreck injury or PIP coverage, you can find us at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON PIP COVERAGE >


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.

Florida Car Insurance 101: What Is Property Damage Liability Coverage?

Property Damage Liability Coverage FLFlorida law requires that each driver purchase at least $10,000 of property damage liability coverage. This is the coverage that will pay for the damage to another’s car in the event that you are at fault in a collision. Even though Florida law only requires that you purchase $10,000, it is probably a good idea to purchase more since many cars on the road are worth more than $10,000.

The reason it is called “property damage liability coverage” is that the insurance company is saying that if you are held liable for property damage that you cause, then the company will pay for that liability up to the dollar amount purchased by you in the policy.

The term “property” includes, for example, a fence, telephone pole, or building, as well as another car.

Coverage applies even if you drive someone else’s car. Depending on the terms and conditions of your policy, it may also include anyone else who uses your car with your permission.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >

If you have questions about property damage liability coverage, feel free to reach out to us at zarzaurlaw.com or 855Hirejoe.

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.

Florida Car Insurance 101: Yes, It’s Legal For A Florida Resident To Register And Drive A Car That Has Zero Insurance For Your Injuries Caused By Their Car?

florida car insurance

Wait, Are You Saying That It’s Legal For A Florida Resident To Register And Drive A Car In Florida That Has Zero Insurance For Injuries Caused By Their Car? The short answer is YES!

So What Is Required?

That is correct. Florida law currently only requires that drivers purchase $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage (that covers your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured in a wreck) and $10,000 for damage caused to another person’s vehicle if the wreck is your fault. But yes, there is no requirement that Florida drivers purchase and carry injury coverage for drivers that they injure in a wreck that they cause.

What is UM Coverage And Why Should You Have It?

This is obviously a concerning fact when you consider that most people have the minimum amount of insurance coverage and it seems that those drivers are the ones that cause most of the car wrecks in Florida. This again means that you should always purchase as much uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage as you can afford.  This coverage is also known as “UM” or “UIM” coverage. 

The reason UM coverage is so important is that it functions just like the injury coverage bought by the at-fault driver. So, if you are in a wreck and the at-fault driver is like most in Florida and has either no coverage or a small amount of coverage and your injuries are serious, then UM coverage will provide coverage for the other driver’s negligence.

Car Insurance Confusion 

Florida car insurance issues are confusing and we are here to help answer those questions for anyone. Whether you have questions related to a wreck or not, Zarzaur Law is happy to give you the advice to assist you and your family in selecting the right kind of car insurance that will provide you and your family with the most protection possible.

Stay tuned for our full six-part series on Car Insurance 101.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO >


If you have questions about a car wreck where the at-fault driver does not have any bodily injury coverage or you just have questions about a car wreck case in general, please feel free to contact us at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.

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.

How Long Do Florida Property Insurance Companies Have To Pay Insurance Claims?

September 10, 2018, marked the one-year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Irma in Florida. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the estimate of the damage caused by Hurricane Irma is $50,000,000,000. Well over a year since its devastation across the state, Floridians remain resilient and committed to rebuild their lives, but now Hurricane Michael has delivered another major blow to Florida and its residents.

ZL_blog_property_ins_claimsGiven that Hurricane Irma came on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, many insurance carriers struggled to get enough insurance adjusters out to the affected areas. They often relied on third-party administrators and used either untrained or improperly trained adjusters in claim investigations.

Florida passed legislation this year making it a crime for any unlicensed (Defined as holding a Florida license) public adjuster to work on behalf of any Florida resident. In past years, unlicensed adjusters did less than honorable jobs for many Florida residents, and did them an injustice by not adequately documenting their claims. This resulted in many Florida residents being defrauded out of the value of their claims, while these unethical adjusters made away like bandits.

As of August 13, 2018, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, over 311,550 Hurricane Irma claims have been closed without payment and more than 82,449 claims remained open. In the course of representing policyholders in first-party property insurance claim disputes, they often ask about the insurance carriers’ claims handling time limits. Below are some important time frames insurance carriers must follow in Florida.

Acknowledgment of Communication within 14 Days
Florida requires that an insurance carrier upon receiving a communication regarding a claim, the insurance carrier must acknowledge receipt of such communication within fourteen calendar days. This requirement does not apply if the insurance carriers paid the claims within fourteen calendar days or if the failure to acknowledge the claims is caused by factors beyond the insurance carriers’ control.

Additionally, the insurance carriers must provide necessary claim forms, and instructions, including an appropriate telephone number.3 At this time, the policyholders should focus on preserving the evidence and gathering documentation regarding the claims, including, but not limited to, before and after photographs of the damaged property, receipts, proposals, estimates, etc. and promptly supplement their claims. Within ten days after the insurance carriers receive the proof of loss statements, they are required to begin the claim investigation.

Claim Decision (if covered)
Within 90 days after the insurance carriers receive notice of an initial, reopened, or supplemental property insurance claim from a policyholder, the insurance carriers shall pay or deny such claim or a portion of the claim unless the failure to pay is caused by factors beyond the control of the insurance carriers which reasonably prevent such payment.

Penalties for Non-Compliance
Whether insurance carriers must pay interest on claims after refusing or delaying payment of policy benefits was discussed by my colleague, Beaujeaux de Lapouyade, in her post, I Reported My Claim Eight Months Ago! Am I Entitled to Interest Upon Resolution.
In other words, Fla. Stat. Ann. § 627.70131(5)(a) assesses a penalty for failure to comply:
Any payment of an initial or supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 90 days after the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made more than 15 days after there are no longer factors beyond the control of the insurer which reasonably prevented such payment, whichever is later, bears interest at the rate set forth in [Fla. Stat. Ann. § 55.03]. Interest begins to accrue from the date the insurer receives notice of the claim. The provisions of this subsection may not be waived, voided, or nullified by the terms of the insurance policy. If there is a right to prejudgment interest, the insured shall select whether to receive prejudgment interest or interest under this subsection. Interest is payable when the claim or portion of the claim is paid. Failure to comply with this subsection constitutes a violation of this code. However, failure to comply with this subsection does not form the sole basis for a private cause of action.

Payment of Settlement
Where a policyholder and an insurance carrier have agreed in writing to amicably resolve a claim, the insurance carrier is required to tender payment in accordance with the terms of the agreement no later than 20 days after the settlement is reached. If the payment is not tendered within 20 days or such other date as the agreement may provide, it shall bear interest at a rate of 12 percent per year from the date of the agreement; however, if the tender of payment is conditioned upon the execution of a release, the interest shall not begin to accrue until the executed release is tendered to the insurance carrier.

Thousands of Hurricane Irma victims relied on their insurance carriers to timely and promptly tender insurance benefits due and owing under their insurance policies to put them back into the position they were prior to the loss as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, to date, many insurance claims remain unsettled or unpaid as policyholders face unreasonable delays. Several insurance carriers, have placed the requirement upon their policyholders to provide information that would alter their decisions.

Additionally, policyholders face new challenges to comply with policy conditions invoked by insurance carriers well over a year since the date of loss and are forced to retain insurance professionals to conduct a comprehensive investigation of their Hurricane Irma damages due to insurance companies’ failure to do so. If you believe that your insurance carrier unjustly denied or low balled your claim, do not hesitate to challenge its decision.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. OUR 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 have any questions about Hurricane Michael claims, call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.
_____________________________________

RESOURCES:

1 S.Res.652: A resolution remembering the 1-year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Irma in Florida.
2 Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 69O-166.024; Fla. Stat. § 627.70131.
3 Fla. Stat. § 627.70131(2).
4 Fla. Stat. § 627.70131(3).
5 Fla. Stat. § 627.70131(5)(a).
6 Fla. Stat. Ann. § 627.4265
7 Id.

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/data/tcr/AL112017_Irma.pdf

\https://www.floir.com

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.70131.html

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0055/Sections/0055.03.html

http://www.merlinlawgroup.com/lawyers/beaujeaux-de-lapouyade-esq/

Florida Supreme Court Rules Medicaid Liens Cannot Be Applied To Future Medical Expenses

On July 5, 2018, the Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Giraldo v. Agency for Health Care Administration. The case dealt with the federal Medicaid Act, a joint federal-state cooperative program that helps states provide medical services to residents who cannot otherwise afford treatment; the Medicaid Act is part of the broader Social Security Act.

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court held that “under federal law, AHCA (the Agency for Health Care Administration) may only reach the past medical expense portion of a Medicaid recipient’s tort recovery to satisfy its Medicaid lien.” In deciding to limit the lien rights of AHCA, the Court cited the federal Medicaid Act’s “anti-lien” provision, noting that the federal Medicaid Act preempts the Florida Medicaid statute on this issue. The ruling is a major victory for plaintiffs with severe injuries or large future medical treatment costs; the ruling prevents AHCA from putting a Medicaid lien on a plaintiff’s future medical treatment received under a settlement or judgment.

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

If you have any questions about this recent Florida Supreme Court ruling or about an injury that you or someone you know has sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Joe Zarzaur, and the firm of Zarzaur Law, P.A. at 855-hirejoe or on the web at www.zarzaurlaw.com.

References:
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2018/sc17-297.pdf
http://www.floridasupremecourt.org

Liability in Lending Out Your Car

Did you know car insurance follows the car, NOT the driver?

If you decide to lend out your car, your car insurance acts as the primary coverage and the driver’s insurance (if they have any) acts as the secondary or excess insurance. If your car gets in an accident, you will have to be the one to file a claim with your insurance, pay the deductible and most likely expect a rate increase.Does insurance cover others driving my car?

For example, let’s say you let your friend, David, borrow your car to go to the store for you. On the way, David causes a 4 car pile-up that goes beyond your insurance coverage, you can still be sued by the other people involved in the accident for medical and property damage costs. Even though you were not the one driving, the car is in your name, with your insurance.

 

Permissive v. Non-permissive Usage

Permissive

Giving consent to someone else to drive your car is usually no problem. There is an omnibus clause in your insurance policy stating any driver, family member who lives with you, and/or dependent children at school will be covered under your insurance if they have permission to use the vehicle. Your insurance will usually cover the driver if they have permission to use the vehicle. Again, contact your insurance provider for complete policy details and to discuss further for accuracy.

Non-permissive

If a driver does not have your permission to use the car, you will likely not be responsible for third party damages. However, you may still be liable for the damages to your own car. For example, imagine your car was stolen and was involved in an accident with a Mercedes. You would not be responsible for damages to the Mercedes, but would have to go through your insurance to fix the damages sustained by your own vehicle.

Additionally, if your friend borrows your car without permission and causes an accident, their insurance will be primary and yours secondary. However, if your friend does not have insurance then unfortunately, you are out of luck and will be liable for damages.

Keep in mind, unless you explicitly deny permission to a friend, or family member somehow, most insurance companies will assume permission was granted. It would be hard to prove otherwise, even if you did not verbally grant permission or give them the keys.

 

Excluding Driver on Policy

If you exclude a driver on your policy to not cover them on purpose, you will save on your premium. You likely chose to exclude these people because they are higher risk for causing an accident-whether it be their age, bad driving record etc.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, you will not be held liable for personal injury, but you and the excluded driver may be responsible for personal liability.

 

Using an Employee Vehicle on the Job

What if you borrow or use a company vehicle? An employer can be held liable for an employee vehicle being involved in an accident by an employee if the employee was driving for employment purposes or within the “course and scope of employment”. Moreover, an employer can be held liable for giving an employee use of their car if they know the employee is a reckless, incompetent and/or unlicensed driver.

For an employer to be held liable by the use of the car by an employee, it must be shown that an employer-employee relationship exists.

 

Having a Family Member Use Your Car

This usually only involves letting a minor child borrow the car. The head of the household or guardian will be liable for a minor’s reckless or negligent driving if they give permission for the minor to utilize the vehicle. In Florida, liability extends to the a parent or guardian who signed a minor’s application for their driver license. This is why it is imperative that parents and guardians of minors only allow these minors to borrow the car if they seem fit as a driver. Any bad habits, or bad driving tendencies known to the parents or guardian could lead to full liability of any accident the minor causes.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Contact your insurance company to make sure you understand the policy for lending out your car to other drivers.
  • Make sure if you do lend out your car that it is to someone with a valid driver’s license, and someone whom you trust with your car. If you know the person is reckless or unsafe on the road as a driver, think twice before letting them borrow your car.
  • Make sure your vehicle registration and insurance information are in your glove box.

Safety and prevention techniques reduce the likelihood of having an auto accident. If you have questions about the liability in lending your car to someone who got in an accident, it is 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.

 

Sources:

https://www.dmv.org/insurance/when-another-driver-has-an-accident-in-your-car.php
https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/auto-accidents/liability-law-and-loaning-your-car.html
https://pocketsense.com/happens-let-someone-drive-car-car-insurance-gets-wreck-18544.html

Who Is At Fault in a ‘Chain Reaction’ Car Accident?

Fault in ‘Chain Reaction’ Car Accidents

Pensacola Auto Accident LawyerPensacola Car Accident Lawyer, Joe Zarzaur, explains some of the different issues that may arise — particularly when it comes to establishing fault — in Pensacola car accident cases involving chain reaction accidents.

Chain reaction auto accidents happen when three or more vehicles hit one another in a series of rear-end accidents that are caused primarily by the force of the first collision. Who is at fault?

Chain reaction wrecks account for 15% of traffic-related fatalities, causing an incredible 13,000 casualties a year. Many of these crashes take place on freeways where there is significant traffic congestion.

Here’s an example of a typical chain reaction accident:
Driver 4 –> Driver 3 –> Driver 2 –> Driver 1

Driver 2 rear-ends the car in front of him, which is being driven by Driver 1. Because Driver 3 was following Driver 2 too closely and could not stop in time, Driver 3 also rear-ends Driver 2. The same situation occurs behind Driver 3, with Driver 4 being unable to stop in time to avoid rear-ending Driver 3.

Bringing forth an insurance claim or personal injury suit against these types of accidents may pose a challenge because chain reaction accidents may involve many a variety of drivers who were potentially acting carelessly, to one degree or another. There’s a variety of issues that may arise, especially when it comes to establishing fault, in car accident cases involving chain reaction accidents.

Who’s Fault Was The Chain Reaction Car Accident?

You’ll have to prove liability under a legal theory called “negligence” if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit against another motorist after a chain reaction accident. In order to conclude which driver was negligent one will have to determine which driver’s carelessness caused the accident — or, if more than one driver was negligent, determining each driver’s share of liability.

Drivers must leave a safe following distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them, so that they can stop in time to avoid any road hazards or unexpected situations, such as the lead car slamming on its brakes. A driver who fails to maintain a safe following distance and then rear-ends the lead car will almost always be considered negligent.

Chain reaction accidents are extremely dangerous because there is often more than one threat to your safety. In a quick second, the roadway becomes an obstacle course and everyone is trying to avoid a major collision, which creates confusion that ends up leading to more collisions.

In order to establish the order of impacts and determine who was careless, there are a number of sources Pensacola car accident lawyer, Joe Zarzaur utilizes. These include:

  • eyewitness accounts (including your own, those of the passengers in each car, passers-by, and the drivers of the cars behind you)
  • police reports of the accident, including findings as to whether any driver committed a traffic violation
  • vehicle damage
  • evidence at the scene of the accident, including skid marks and vehicle debris.

For help navigating each step of an insurance claim or lawsuit after a car accident, contact Joe Zarzaur at Zarzaur Law, PA in Pensacola, Florida. You will want to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure your legal rights are protected.

Florida Car Wrecks and Health Insurance

What legal role does your health insurance have in your Florida car wreck and/or personal injury case?

So, you are the victim of a careless driver or other negligent actor and as a result, you have medical bills, and lots of them.  Fortunately many victims already have a health insurance policy that covers them for all of their healthcare needs.  Once an accident happens and medical treatment is needed, what happens if your health insurance company pays any of the bills?   The short answer is that the health insurer is entitled to be reimbursed at the conclusion of your legal case.  

When you enter into the health insurance agreement one of the terms of every policy is the insurance company’s right of subrogation.  This is a fancy legal term that means you can’t be compensated twice for the same item of expense.  In terms of medical expenses this means that if the insurance company pays your medical bills related to your accidental injury then it is entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement.  Otherwise, you would be recovering twice of the same injury, once by the payment of the bill and second by the recovery from the careless driver/party.  

A good personal injury law firm handling a Florida car wreck case, will have years of experience in dealing with these reimbursement or subrogation issues.  Most times the health insurers will permit discounts to be negotiated by the law firm which maximizes the recovery for the client.  So, even after a long fight with the insurance company for the at-fault party, the lawyers and staff at Zarzaur Law continue the fight until even the health insurance companies reduce their subrogation interest to the lowest possible amount.  

To add a bit of complexity to this discussion is the function of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in Florida car wreck cases.  Florida’s car wreck law provides that each insured driver in Florida must purchase at least $10,000.00 in PIP benefits.  These PIP benefits must by law pay for 80% YOUR car wreck related medical bills up to $10,000.00.  Even if you have the best of health insurance policies, being involved in a wreck immediately makes your own car insurance the primary payor of your medical bills.  To say it another way, your health insurance will not honor any car wreck related claims until your car insurance has used the entire PIP benefit.  This is important for several reasons.  First, using PIP benefits instead of health insurance benefits means that the right of subrogation held by the health carrier is not permitted by the car policy.  So, this means that once your Florida car wreck case is concluded, you will not be required to reimburse the PIP (auto) carrier.  Unlike health policies, car insurance policies in Florida do not have rights of the insurance company to subrogate.  In essence, this permits the Florida car wreck victim to achieve double recovery for at least the first $10,000.00 in medical expenses.  In practice however, the value of the case will likely not be increased by this $10,000.00 since the at fault insurer will be negotiating settlement terms knowing that this $10,000.00 in bills has already been paid by the auto carrier.  

In some cases, Florida car wreck victims end up not using all of their PIP benefits and their health insurer overlooks this and starts paying expenses.  The case is concluded and the health insurance wants their reimbursement.  Florida car wreck lawyers who know their business will recognize this issue and make sure that the PIP carrier reimburses the health carrier so as to maximize the total recovery.

Zarzaur Law prides itself in making certain that all of these medical/insurance issues are handled in the most professional way.  For more information about Florida car wreck cases, feel free to contact us at zarzaurlaw.com or by phone at 855-Hire-Joe.

Informed Consent for Minor Patients

Informed ConsentInformed Consent for Minor Patients

The law authorizes parent(s) or guardian(s) of a minor (anyone under the age of 18) to give informed consent for most medical decisions on behalf of the child. Claims by parents alleging treatment of a minor patient without the consent of the parent are relatively rare. Laws vary from state to state, but here is a general approach to the situation.

Q & A: Your Questions, Answered.

Q:  Do minors who are undergoing a series of treatments need a signed parental consent each time they are seen at the office?
A:  If a minor patient needs a series of treatments or exams, it is strongly advised that the parent/guardian sign a consent form prior to the first treatment stating that the minor patient can be treated and examined by the ophthalmologist and staff even if the minor patient is not accompanied by an adult. Of course, if the nature of the treatment or exam changes, a new consent must be obtained.

Q:  Do both parents have to agree to a proposed treatment/procedure?
A:  For most medical procedures, it is sufficient to obtain the consent of one parent (in an intact married couple). However, if treatment poses a significant risk to the minor or violates the personal or religious beliefs of one or both parents, it is advisable to obtain the consent of both parents. If the parents disagree about the advisability of the procedure, and the dispute cannot be resolved, it may be necessary for a juvenile court to intervene.

Q: Who can give consent when parents are divorced?
A:  If the parents share joint legal custody, they “share” the right to make health care decisions for their child. Either parent alone may consent to a recommended medical procedure unless the court issuing the order of joint legal custody has specified that the consent of both parents is required for certain, or all, medical decisions. If parents have joint legal custody and are unable to agree about treatment, it may be necessary to obtain a court order before treatment is provided unless there is an emergency. If a parent has sole legal custody, that parent has the sole legal right to make health care decisions for the child.

Q: Do legal guardians have the same rights as parents to give consent to treat a minor?
A: A legal guardian has the same authority to consent to medical treatment for a minor as a parent would have.

Q:  Can a stepparent give consent for a minor?
A: A stepparent does not have the authority to give legal consent to medical treatment for a minor stepchild unless the stepparent has legally adopted the child or been designated a legal guardian.

Q:  Can a foster parent give consent for a minor patient?
A:  A foster parent may legally give consent to “ordinary” medical and dental treatment for the child, including immunizations, physical exams, and x-rays.

Q: In what situations can minors be treated if their parents or guardian are unavailable?
A:  An emergency exception may apply to permit examination and treatment of minors requiring immediate services for alleviation of severe pain or immediate diagnosis and treatment of unforeseeable medical conditions, which if not immediately diagnosed and treated, would lead to serious disability or death. Some state education codes establish qualified immunity for physicians who treat school children during regular school hours for emergency treatment.

Also, a child’s parents or legal guardians may sign a statement authorizing a third party to consent to medical care in the event the child or child’s parents (guardians) will be away from home, such as during vacations. A copy of the authorization signed by the parents or legal guardian should be retained with the child’s medical records.

Q: Are there any exceptions to minors consenting for themselves?
A: Some exceptions exist to allow minors to consent to their own treatment; for example, married or divorced minors, minors on active duty in the armed forces, and minors “emancipated” by a court order.

If you have an informed consent question involving a minor patient, please contact Pensacola Auto Accident Attorney, Joe Zarzaur of Zarzaur Law, P.A. Our knowledgeable staff can assist with your questions or concerns.

Pensacola Truck Wreck Lawyers: Ranked.

Pensacola Truck Wreck LawyerPensacola Truck Wreck Lawyers

Pensacola truck wreck lawyers are lawyers that devote a substantial portion of their practice to representing the victims of truck and/or semi-trailer accidents. The reasons that Pensacola truck wreck lawyers have different experiences then, general injury lawyers, is the nature of truck wrecks themselves. First, since a majority of truck wrecks occur on the interstate versus city driving, many involve collisions at higher speeds. Second, the vehicles involved in truck wrecks are much larger in size than typical vehicles. These forces: speed and size, contribute to a much grimmer and many times, a fatal outcome for victims of truck wrecks.

Pensacola Truck Wreck LawyerFrom an investigation standpoint, lawyers handling truck wreck injury or death cases must realize that since these trucking companies are insured by commercial insurance companies that specialize in policies for trucking fleets, they will be ready to jump on any potential claim as soon as it happens. For instance, as soon as a fatality is reported to a trucking insurance company, that company will likely hire an investigator and a defense lawyer within an hour or two of that notice. The investigation will immediately start for the insurance company. They will usually have an investigator on the scene and someone looking at the involved vehicles prior the most families even thinking about hiring a lawyer. The lawyers for these companies will start working immediately on the legal defenses available to the trucking company. So, the insurance companies have a significant advantage in the truck wreck setting when it comes to being able to be the first party on the scene and the first party to gain access the vehicles involved.

Pensacola Truck Wreck Lawyer: Experience is Key

Pensacola Truck Wreck LawyerExperienced Pensacola truck wreck lawyers or lawyers know that they must act fast. Pensacola truck wreck lawyers that as soon as they are hired by a family an investigator must be discharged immediately to the scene and to the tow yard where vehicles are usually kept. Pensacola truck wreck lawyers know that an accident reconstructionist expert should also be retained in conjunction with an investigator since crucial evidence on the roadway and on the vehicles will be compromised as each day passes. The more and more traffic that passes over the scene of a wreck the more likely evidence on the roadway like braking marks, yaw marks, indentions and other similar marks will be compromised or lost.

Pensacola truck wreck lawyers know that these commercial trucking insurance companies are usually working under an insurance policy that typically has higher than average limits. These policy limits are usually at least 1 million dollars and many larger companies have limits that can exceed 20 million dollars per claim.

The reason this is important is that these companies have millions of reasons to protect as much of these monies as possible. They will act like they are protecting these monies and will be sparing no expense in the process of protecting these assets. It is our job as Truck Wreck lawyers to first collect as much evidence as possible and then to aggressively seek the most recovery available that is justified under the facts of our case.

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer

Pensacola truck wreck lawyers also need to have experience in cases involving these carriers since many times the evidence involved relates to truck driving laws that require certain documents be kept by truck drivings which contain their sleep logs, maintenance logs and other logs required by State and/or Federal law.

If there is a truck wreck and you or a close family member or friend is involved, it is important to seek out advice from a truck wreck lawyer or Pensacola personal injury lawyer that has experience with injuries and deaths occurring with truck wrecks.