The first thing you should do is find out how much insurance money is available for your car accident case. This issue can be revised, as more information becomes available, but it needs to be done ASAP. It’s obviously helpful to know if there is $10,000 in coverage or $10 million. To be certain, you should request and read the actual insurance policy.
In Florida, if you’re are injured in an accident you have a right to a copy of the insurance policy, as well as a sworn statement from the insurance company confirming coverage amounts. If the insurance company refuses to provide you with a copy of the entire policy, you may file a formal complaint with the state insurance commissioner (i.e. civil remedy notice). If the insurance company still refuses to provide you with a copy of the policy you may have a claim against the insurance company for failing to deal in good faith.
The Declarations Page is the document that indicates exactly what the amounts of the actual insurance policy coverage are. The amounts; the types, etc. Obtaining and reviewing a copy of the actual insurance policy and its provisions is not the same thing as obtaining the Declarations Page. The Declaration Page an important document, in some ways maybe the most important document. When the Declaration Page is used in conjunction with the actual policy itself (which explains coverages and prohibitions, etc.), you will have a full picture of what you have and what you are up against, and will be able to more fully plan out your personal injury case and strategy.
When the policy itself as well as the Declaration Page is obtained, this is a good start to your case and can help determine what might be covered, whether there is stacking, etc. However, this is not the end of the analysis, only the beginning.
Just because there may be one (1) policy or set of coverages involved, this does not mean that this may be the only coverage available or that can be involved. In Florida, insurance companies are required to disclose the existence of other known policies the may cover your loss. Also, different from “stacking” policies (the addition of multiple independent policies covering one insured) there is the principle of additive policies.
For example, suppose a person is walking to Target and goes to cross the street at an unpaid intersection; one that has a defective traffic light. This person gets hit by a car (traveling 50 mph in a 30 mph zone) and sustains catastrophic spinal and brain injuries and end up in a coma. What potential policies could this injured person pursue? The analysis can be long, but is often done by Florida injury attorneys in the following way.
First, obviously one could and would pursue the driver of the car. He was speeding, and may be guilty of failure to maintain a proper lookout, negligence, etc. Second, if the driver was borrowing a car at the time, you could pursue both the car owner’s insurance policy, as well as the driver’s policy, under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality act (i.e. vicarious liability). Additionally, if the pedestrian who was hit owned a car or lived with someone who owned a car they may be able to make a claim under their PIP policy and Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) policy, if available. UM coverage covers being hit by someone with no insurance coverage at all, of where there are very large injuries and the available coverage from the defendant is inadequate. There may also be Med Pay coverage which is medical payment coverage paid to medical providers for the medical treatment undergone as a result of an accident. Med Pay coverage is paid regardless of who was at-fault.
Also, the pedestrian might have lawsuits against the city for improperly working traffic control devise and improperly marked crosswalk, as well as against the contractor employed to perform those repairs, if they were done negligently. The list could potentially go on and one, but you see the point.
UM is very important coverage, and coverage that every person should have. This covers you in a car accident, as a driver, passenger, or pedestrian when nothing else might. This is coverage you can always count on, even if the other party has no insurance at all, or only has the minimum policy (usually $10,000). UM is probably the best (and most important) all around coverage you can have.
Medical payments coverage is also important coverage to have as it covers medical bills. Neither Med Pay nor UM is required in Florida to be able to operate a motor vehicle; these are optional coverages. However, UM is important coverage, and it is very unwise to operate without it.
Florida accident lawyers are always looking for insurance coverage to pay for their clients injuries. There can be many layers of coverage, not just one, and it’s important to find out what those policies are, what is covered, and the amounts of coverage involved. If the injuries and damages are severe enough, this will often drive the continuing search for more coverages and assets to make the injuries plaintiff “whole.” Also, recognize there are other types of coverage that potentially could be pursued.
The Longo Firm, P.A.
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608