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I don’t have money to hire a lawyer. What should I do?

You can not afford to NOT get a lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the attorney does not get paid until your case settles. So you can hire a personal injury attorney without paying anything out of pocket. The attorney receives a percentage of your gross settlement when your case settles. You have nothing to lose!

The other benefit is you do not pay for any costs incurred on your behalf until your case settles. Costs incurred for medical records, investigation costs, filing fees, etc., are also paid out of your settlement. 

At Weber Law Firm we work on a contingency fee basis. You never pay our firm any fees or costs UNLESS we win. Also, most medical providers will hold their balances until your case settles. This same fee structure also applies to other personal injury claims.

What is the amount of a personal injury lawyer’s fee after a car accident?

In Florida, the amount an attorney can charge for a personal injury settlement is established by the Florida Bar. Most lawyers calculate their fee based off of the gross settlement, this means their fee is based on the amount the insurance company is paying to resolve your case, NOT the net amount you receive in pocket. So if the insurance company is paying $100k to resolve your claim, your attorney’s fees with be a percentage of $100k based on the status of your claim (pre-suit, litigation, etc.)

Below is the typical fee structure:

Attorney’s Fees When Case is Settled Pre-Suit

1. Through the time of filing an answer or the demand for appointment of arbitrators—

33 1/3% of any recovery up to $1 million.

Attorney’s Fees When Case is Litigated

2. From the time of filing an answer or the demand for appointment of arbitrators through the entry of judgment:

(1) 40% of any recovery up to $1 million, plus

(2) 30% of any portion of recovery between $1 million and $2 million; plus

(3) 20% of any portion of the recovery exceeding $2 million.

Attorney’s Fees When Case is Litigated ONLY on Damages NOT Liability

3. If all defendants admit liability at the time of filing their answers and request a trial only on damages:

(1) 33 1/3% of any recovery up to $1 million, plus

(2) 20% of any portion of recovery between $1 million and $2 million; plus

(3) 15% of any portion of the recovery exceeding $2 million.

If an Appeal is Filed

4. An additional 5% of any recovery after notice of appeal is filed or post-judgment relief or action is required for recovery on the judgment.

Review your contingency fee agreement so you know exactly how your attorney is calculating their attorney’s fees. Also review to see if your attorney is charging any flat fees for administrative costs.

Should I call the police if I am involved in a car accident?

Pursuant to § 316.065, Fla. Stat. (2022), after a car crash, the local police must be called if the crash causes injuries OR death OR at least $500 in damages to any vehicle or property. You do not have to call the police if the accident is a minor fender bender. If the police come to the scene, be sure to get a copy of the short form accident report or Driver Exchange of Information.

Also, try to remember to take photos of both vehicles involved, as well as photos of any visible injuries.

How long do I have to file a claim after a car accident?

The statute of limitations (SOL) controls how long you have after a car accident to file a lawsuit. The SOL varies based on when your accident occurred. Governor DeSantis recently signed a bill into law that reduced Florida’s SOL.

If your accident happened BEFORE 03/24/2023 and your injuries did NOT result in death, the SOL for an injury claim is 4-years from the date of the accident. If someone is killed in a car accident, the SOL for a wrongful death action is 2-years from the date of death.

If your accident happened AFTER 03/24/2023 the SOL for an injury claim or wrongful death action is 2-years from the date of accident or date of death.

When you hire an experienced New Port Richey Personal Injury Attorney, most auto accident claims are settled without the need to file a lawsuit. However, if your claim cannot be settled in the pre-suit phase, these deadlines are important and if they expire your claim will be forever barred. 

I did not cause the car accident, why does my insurance have to pay for my medical treatment?

Florida is considered a “no-fault” insurance state. This means your auto insurance is primary for payment of your medical treatment through your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP is also often referred to as “no-fault” benefits because these benefits apply regardless of whether you were at-fault or not at-fault for the car accident. 

Every auto insurance policy issued in Florida must have at least $10,000 in PIP benefits. PIP benefits are provided to: 

  • The policyholder
  • The policyholder’s children (even if they’re involved in an accident in another person’s vehicle or on a school bus)
  • Members of the policyholder’s household, and 
  • Passengers in the policyholders vehicle (if they do NOT own a vehicle or reside with someone who does).

Pedestrians who do not own a vehicle or reside in a household with a vehicle, may also be able to qualify for PIP benefits under the at-fault party’s policy.

In order to be eligible for PIP benefits you MUST seek treatment within 14-days from the date of the car accident. If you do NOT seek treatment within this timeframe, PIP benefits will not be available to you.

Lastly, to be eligible for full amount of PIP benefits available on your auto insurance policy, you MUST be diagnosed with an “Emergency Medical Condition” (EMC) by a qualified medical provider. Florida’s PIP statute, 627.732 defines an EMC as “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.”

If you are not diagnosed with an EMC, your PIP benefit will be limited to $2,500. An EMC can be diagnosed at any time by a qualified medical provider and does NOT have to be addressed within the 14-day time period. A qualified medical provider can be any of the following:

  • Orthopedic physicians (MD)
  • Osteopathic Physicians (DO)
  • Dentist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Advanced Registered Nurse practitioner
If I did not seek treatment within 14-days after the auto accident, do I still have a claim?

Yes, you still have a personal injury claim. Your claim is NOT barred. The 14-day deadline is ONLY for your PIP benefits. If you do not seek treatment within the 14-day deadline you will not have PIP benefits. It does not prevent you from bringing a personal injury claim.

Should I provide the other party’s insurance company with a recorded statement?

No! You should not provide the at-fault party’s insurance company a recorded or non-recorded statement. You have no obligation to provide their insurance company with any statement.

You only have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. Your insurance company may request a recorded statement from you. At Weber Law Firm, we coordinate and participate in all recorded statements with the client’s insurance.

I have full coverage car insurance, does that mean I am covered if I am in a car accident?

Absolutely not! When someone says they have “full coverage” they typically only have the bare minimum insurance required to be legal in the State of Florida. In Florida, a vehicle owner ONLY needs to carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage and $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to be legal on Florida roadways. Florida does NOT require drivers to carry bodily injury (BI) coverage. So it is VERY important that you protect yourself and carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage.  

According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2019 more than 20% of Florida drivers were uninsured. Meaning they did not have an active auto insurance policy.

This means that if you do not adequately protect yourself, you may find yourself in a world of hurt after an auto accident.

I don’t have money to pay for medical treatment, what can I do?

Your PIP benefits will pay for the first 10k of your medical treatment. When you have a personal injury lawyer, most doctors will hold any balances they have until your case settles. So you receive the treatment you need and the doctors don’t get paid until you do!

I was in a car accident. I was not at-fault, but I do not have auto insurance. Do I still have a claim?

Yes, if you were injured in a car crash, you still have an injury claim.  When you’re involved in a car wreck without insurance, even though you were driving illegally, it does not preclude you from bringing an injury claim against the at-fault party. It will be vital to determine how much insurance coverage the at-fault driver/owner carries. Remember, Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury (BI) liability coverage. If the at-fault driver/owner does not have BI coverage, there will NOT be any insurance coverage to pursue for your injury claim.

Because you do not have an active auto insurance policy, you also will not have personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to pay for up to the first $10,000 of your medical treatment. This mean all of your treatment will remain 100% unpaid until your case settles. Unless you have health insurance.

Uber and Lyft drivers often find themselves in this situation when they’re involved in a car accident while active on the rideshare apps. Most rideshare drivers do not realize they need additional coverage on their personal auto insurance policy to protect them in case they’re involved in a car accident and NOT at-fault. Uber and Lyft both have insurance to protect itself and its driver from liability if they’re at-fault, but if their drivers are NOT at-fault their policies do not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. Many Uber and Lyft drivers do not realize this until they’re involved in a car accident. Whether they’re at-fault for the accident or not, their personal auto insurance polices will typically deny coverage or rescind their policies for misrepresentation. This puts Uber and Lyft drivers at risk of having no insurance coverage to go after if they are injured. 

It can also create issues when it comes to their property damage claims because if they are forced to go through the Uber or Lyft policy for repairs because the at-fault party does not have an active policy, or the at-fault party does not have enough property damage (PD) coverage to pay for all damages. Uber and Lyft’s auto policies typically have a $2,500 collision deductible. This means the Uber or Lyft driver may have to pay $2,500 out-of-pocket towards the repairs or if their vehicle is totaled, the fair market value (FMV) paid out for the total loss will be reduced by $2,500 right off the top.

How do I get a copy of my accident report?

If you hire Weber Law Firm, we will order the crash report. Most traffic reports take 10 days to become available. If the accident resulted in a fatality it can take longer.

Traffic reports are exempt from public disclosure for 60 days from the date of the accident. But you or your attorney may order the report right away.

If you wish to obtain a copy of your accident report independently, you can order the crash report from Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles through their online Florida Crash Portal. Crash reports cost $12.00 per report ($10.00 report + $2.00 processing fee)

If Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) reported to the scene and you want to order the crash report by mail, locate the FHP Troop Station nearest to where the accident occurred and submit your request with the Sworn Statement for Traffic Crash Report Information. Locate the FHP Troop Stations.

Generally, FHP investigates most crashes, however, if another agency came out and they do not participate on the portal, you can contact them directly and provide the Sworn Statement for Traffic Crash Report Information.

Contact Information for Other Agencies

Pasco Sheriff’s Office

New Port Richey Police Department

What is the timeline for an auto accident injury settlement?

Each case is different, some settle quickly and others take longer. The last thing you want to do is settle prematurely, especially before you know the extent of your injuries. Once a case is settled, it’s done and there’s no opening it back up.

On average, clients treat 6 months or more. When the case is ready, a settlement demand package will be sent to the insurance companies. The insurance companies are typically given 20 days to respond. Negotiations can go quickly and sometimes they’re put on hold if the client is going to get more significant treatment.

When a settlement amount is reached, the settlement process can take 30 days or more before your attorney can disburse funds. This is because the checks have to be received, clear the trust account, medicals and any liens negotiated.

If your case does not settle pre-suit and goes into litigation, it can take much longer to reach an auto accident injury settlement.

Will my auto insurance rates go up if I make a claim after a car accident?

Your auto insurance rates may go up after a car accident, but the increased premiums will likely not be related to the auto accident. You may lose a zero accident discount, but most clients do not experience an insurance rate increase after a car accident. In fact, § 626.9541, Fla. Stat. prohibits it for improper reasons. The statute states:

Imposing or requesting an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer’s file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident.

Keep in mind that insurance rates fluctuate for many reasons, a decrease in the unemployment rate causes our premiums to go up because more people are on the road.

When your auto insurance rates increase, you should always check

your C.L.U.E. report. LexisNexis C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) is a claims information exchange used by insurance companies to make informed pricing and underwriting decisions when writing your insurance policies. The exchange compiles and reports 7 years of your auto and personal property claims.

Like a credit report, you are entitled to 1 free report every 12 months. You should review your C.L.U.E. report for accuracy and dispute inaccurate information.

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