Car Accidents FAQs

  • Are punitive damages available in Florida drunk driving accident cases?
    • The short answer is, yes. Unlike compensatory damages that a wrongdoer has to pay an injured party for things like medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, punitive damages act both as a deterrent, and as a form of punishment to the offending party. Punitive damages are generally levied against a wrongdoer when he or she acts with malice, willfulness, moral turpitude, or in reckless indifference for another person’s legal rights. In Florida, voluntarily becoming intoxicated and then operating a motor vehicle constitutes a willful act which creates known risk to public safety. As such, injury claims that result from accidents involving intoxicated drivers, by their very nature, qualify for punitive damages in Florida when the wrongdoer’s blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit. See Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So. 2d 922 (Fla. 1976) .

      As punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer, the court will take into consideration that party’s ability to pay when determining the amount of the award. In other words, a party with substantial financial assets, such as a large corporation, will likely be assessed a higher amount of punitive damages than a party with meager assets. Except in very rare circumstances, Florida law limits punitive damages awards to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000.00.

      It is important to remember that simply because punitive damages may be available to you if you are injured by an intoxicated driver, such an award is not automatic. The injured party must specifically plead and prove entitlement to punitive damages, the court must instruct the jury to consider that entitlement, and the jury must return a verdict awarding those damages. Therefore, it is paramount that you seek the services and advice of an experienced attorney if you believe you may be entitled to punitive damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident. A competent attorney will be able to obtain the proper evidence needed to sustain any claim that you may have resulting from being injured by a drunk driver.

  • Can I recover damages against a drunk driver for a car accident?
    • Technically speaking, yes, you may recover damages against a drunk driver for harm that you suffer as a result of a motor vehicle accident much as you would against a sober driver. However, there are some important nuances that pertain to recovery in cases involving drivers who are under the influence. You always need to seek the services of an attorney qualified to investigate and assist with these types of lawsuits.

      Florida has enacted financial responsibility laws that govern the ownership, maintenance, and operation of motor vehicles in this state. The purposes of those laws are to recognize driving a motor vehicle as a privilege, promote motor vehicle safety, and to ensure that drivers maintain minimum financial security in case they become responsible for having to compensate others for personal injuries or property damage caused by the operation of a motor vehicle. The law requires that a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident, or convicted of driving under the influence, shall respond for damages and show proof of being able to pay for damages in future accidents. Specifically, section 324.023, Florida Statutes (2014) requires that drivers who cause bodily injury or death while driving under the influence compensate any victims involved. However, both the drunk driver and his or her insurance company can still present obstacles to your recovery under certain circumstances.

      Although it is required by Florida law, some drivers fail to insure their vehicles. If a drunk driver fails to have insurance and causes you personal injuries, your ability to recover could be affected. Even if the drunk driver is insured, his or her insurance company might deny coverage and try to avoid paying for claims pursuant to exclusionary clauses in the insurance policy. Insurance companies often deny coverage when their insured drivers cause a motor vehicle accident through an "intentional" action. The insurers’ theory is that the drunk driver intentionally became intoxicated, and therefore is excluded from coverage. Fortunately for Florida drivers, our state courts have repeatedly rejected these attempts as being squarely against the public policy of protecting innocent accident victims. See Allstate Indem. Co. v. Wise, 818 So. 2d 524 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001). In Wise, the court stated "our supreme court [has] reaffirmed that Florida law requires both an intent to act and a specific intent to injure in order to bring a loss within the ambit of an intentional act coverage exclusion…[w]e, too, conclude that Allstate’s expansive intentional acts exclusion, if strictly applied, would contravene the public policy behind the financial responsibility laws. Id. at 525-527 (emphasis added). The Wise court further clarified that any ambiguity found in an insurance contract or an exclusionary clause is always interpreted in favor of the insured and against the insurer. Therefore, if you are injured by a drunk driver and that driver’s insurance company tries to avoid paying you damages, the insurance company might have to prove that its insured driver intended to injure you, or else have to pay your claim.

      The loss caused by a drunk driver can be significant, if not tragic. If you believe that you have suffered such loss by way of property damage, personal injury, or wrongful death, you owe it to yourself and your family to request that an experienced attorney explore your recovery options before your time to do recover runs out.

  • After talking to the other parties insurance company about a car accident, I want an attorney. Is that a problem?
    • Absolutely not. Just because you gave a statement to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier does not mean that you have lost your rights to be represented by an attorney. In fact, the attorney with whom you speak will likely be able to fix anything that your statement may have done which would otherwise negatively impact your case. For that reason alone, it is probably a very wise decision to speak with an attorney. In most cases, the carrier will attempt to contact you very soon after the accident, often before you know the extent of your injuries, knowing that you have limited time to make a claim. Keep in mind that you are not legally obligated to speak with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. If you have been contacted by the at-fault party’s insurance carrier to give a recorded statement, but have not yet done so, you should speak with an attorney prior to giving your statement.

      It is no secret that insurance companies make money by maximizing premiums while minimizing payouts on claims. If you are in a car accident, both you and the driver of the other vehicle have a legal obligation to report the accident to your respective automobile insurance carriers. If the other driver’s insurance carrier fears that it might be liable, one of its investigators may contact you for a recorded statement regarding the accident. The insurance carrier’s investigators are trained to question you in such a way so as to enable the carrier to avoid paying some, or all, of your claim. Although the investigator may be slightly interested in getting your side of the story, it is much more interested in gathering anything from you that might help the carrier deny, or at least reduce, your potential claim.

      Insurance carriers are often very shrewd in discovering ways to deny paying out the money that they owe. Unfortunately, most of us are familiar with these carriers offering pennies on the dollar in their efforts to settle claims. Along with these paltry settlement offers, the insurer will include a release of liability, which if signed by the injured party, will forever discharge the insurance company from further liability to that party. The harsh reality is that many people mistakenly accept a carrier’s initial offer because they simply have no idea that they have the choice not to, and insurance carriers know that. The best, if not the only, way to even the playing field against an insurance carrier is to talk to an attorney who is experienced in dealing with them. Insurance carriers hope that you are hesitant to contact an attorney after giving a statement regarding your accident – don’t let them deny you the legal rights, or the recovery, that you deserve.

  • Are punitive damages available in a Florida auto accident case?
    • Yes, punitive damages are available in Florida auto accident cases, but only under limited circumstances. Unlike compensatory damages, which cover costs such as medical bills and lost wages, punitive damages are assessed against a wrongdoer in order to both punish the wrongdoer, and to deter similar conduct in the future. In order for a court to consider an award of punitive damages, it must find there to be an underlying compensatory damages award.

      The negligence required for an award of punitive damages is greater than the simple negligence required in order to award compensatory damages, and is similar to a culpable negligence finding in criminal cases. See Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So. 2d 922 (Fla. 1976) . One of the most contested issues regarding punitive damage awards in auto accident cases is determining when simple negligence crosses the line and becomes culpable negligence. Where simple negligence can be found in almost all auto accidents, culpable negligence requires that the wrongdoer act intentionally, willfully, wantonly, or in reckless disregard for public safety. Punitive damages are levied for a wide variety of misconduct, but in the arena of auto accidents, may be awarded where the wrongdoer: is charged with manslaughter, drives at an extremely reckless speed, fails to stop at the accident scene, is voluntarily intoxicated, is engaged in criminal behavior, and/or knowingly fails to maintain his car in a reasonably safe condition leading to the accident.

      It is important to keep in mind that while punitive damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer for committing willful, wanton, reckless, or intentional misconduct, they are not intended to bankrupt the wrongdoer. As they relate to car accidents, Florida law limits punitive damages awards to the greater of either three times the award of compensatory damages, or $500,000.00. While punitive damages will likely be paid "out of pocket" by the wrongdoer, and not by the wrongdoer’s insurance company, in the case of an insolvent wrongdoer, the insurance company may be held responsible.

      If you, or a loved one, have been in an auto accident, it is extremely important to act quickly. Each day that passes by has the potential to cost you money that you deserve. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who is well-aware of each and every element of damages to which you may be entitled.

  • Are there alternatives to going to court in a Florida auto accident case?
    • Absolutely. In fact, the vast majority of auto accident cases are settled pre-suit, meaning that the parties come to a resolution prior to any lawsuit whatsoever being filed. Florida is a "no-fault" state. This means that if you are in an auto accident, you first need to look to your own car insurance coverage to receive compensation. Under Florida law, every driver needs to maintain at least $10,000.00 in both personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits and property damage liability benefits. For this reason, many auto accident claims are resolved without the need for either party to seek benefits from the other party’s insurance coverage, through a lawsuit or otherwise. It is important to keep in mind, when a party only seeks recovery for property damage, and not for personal injuries, that party is permitted to go directly after the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, without first looking to his or her own.

      In many cases however, the injured party seeks recovery for his or her personal injuries in addition to property damage. In those cases, assuming that the party has first exhausted his or her own PIP benefits, he or she can file a claim for damages against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Those damages typically include recovery for medical care and treatment, and lost wages, but may also include recovery for pain and suffering, where the party has suffered a permanent injury, significant scarring or disfigurement, or death. For that reason, a claimant usually needs to complete his or her medical treatment prior to seeking damages, so that the permanency of his or her injuries can be accurately assessed. As can be expected, that can often take months to complete, which results in a delay of the claimant’s recovery.

      For most parties involved in auto accidents, the quickest way to recover damages is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will usually issue demand letters to the appropriate insurance carriers as soon as practicable, and may issue proposals for settlement under Florida law. If the insurance carrier fails to cooperate with the client’s reasonable expectations, the attorney may file a lawsuit on his or her behalf. In Palm Beach County, every civil lawsuit must first go to mediation before moving onto trial – another reason that most of these lawsuits never reach the actual courtroom. Very strict time requirements and statutes of limitations come into play in Florida auto accidents. If you feel that you are entitled to recovery stemming from an auto accident, consult an experienced attorney right away.

  • Are there parties other than the at-fault driver against whom I can take legal action in a Florida motor vehicle accident case?
    • Under Florida law, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident with another vehicle, you can sue the driver of that vehicle, the owner of that vehicle, or both. Those are the only two parties against whom you may file an action. There are exceptions however, such as cases involving negligent design of a roadway or your vehicle, where an injured party might be able to take legal action against the owner or operator of a company, city, or other entity. Typically though, it’s going to be the owner and/or driver who are solely liable.

      Florida’s "no-fault" motor vehicle laws require any person who owns a vehicle to purchase both personal injury protection ("PIP") insurance and property damage insurance – each with a minimum coverage amount of $10,000.00. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.736 and 324.021. PIP benefits cover the owner of the vehicle, as well as relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured vehicle, passengers of the vehicle, and those struck by the vehicle (as long as those individuals are not required to have their own PIP coverage, in which case, that individual’s policy would cover him or her). PIP pays a covered injured party up to $10,000.00 for medical/disability benefits and lost wages, with an additional $5,000.00 available in death benefits. Remember, it is crucial that see a medical provider within 14 days of your accident, or you risk losing the majority of your PIP benefits. Property damage insurance covers any property damage sustained by an injured party arising out of an accident with the covered party, i.e., the party who purchased the property damage insurance. With this basic review of the motor vehicle insurance required in Florida, it becomes clear that, in most cases, the only parties who are potentially liable after a motor vehicle accident, are the owners and/or the drivers of the vehicles.

      Although the liability or potential liability of the parties involved in a motor vehicle accident may be cut and dry in some cases, the claims that you might have against a person who caused your motor vehicle accident might not be. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides many sources for better understanding vehicle insurance issues. With many other forms of motor vehicle insurance at play, including bodily injury liability, uninsured motorist coverage, and collision protection, making sense of the entire situation, all while recovering from your injuries, will likely prove to be a nearly impossible task. When you add to that, you will likely be without a vehicle (or fighting to have the insurance company fix your vehicle), it can end up being one of the most stressful times in your life. Let the experienced personal injury attorneys and staff at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles guide you through the process, and get you the money that you are owed.

  • Can a passenger recover damages in Florida for auto accident injuries caused by a driver of the same car?
    • The answer is, yes. You can go after anyone that causes your auto accident whether you’re in their vehicle or another vehicle. It’s very simple. Whoever causes the auto accident is responsible for what they did, they’re responsible for paying all your medical bills, all your lost wages, and money for your pain and suffering.

      Florida’s "no-fault" motor vehicle laws require any person who owns a vehicle to purchase both personal injury protection ("PIP") insurance and property damage insurance – each with a minimum coverage amount of $10,000.00. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.736 and 324.021. PIP benefits cover the owner of the vehicle, as well as relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured vehicle, and passengers of the vehicle. The major concern for passengers who try to recover from the driver of the vehicle in which they were riding, is whether or not the passenger has (or is required to have) his or her own PIP policy. Put simply, if a passenger who does not own his or her own vehicle, is involved in an auto accident, he or she can seek insurance coverage from the driver’s policy he or she was riding with. However, if the passenger does own a vehicle (and therefore, is required to have his or her own PIP insurance) he or she must first seek coverage from his or her own policy, before going after the driver’s. PIP pays a covered injured party up to $10,000.00 for medical/disability benefits and lost wages, with an additional $5,000.00 available in death benefits. It is crucial that you see a medical provider within 14 days of your accident, or you risk losing the majority of your PIP benefits.

      PIP coverage should not be mistaken with bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury liability (or "BI") is coverage purchased by a vehicle owner which protects him against loss in the even that he causes physical injury or death to another individual in a car accident. If you are injured by another driver who has BI coverage – even if he or she is driving the vehicle in which you are riding – you might be able to seek benefits from the BI insurance carrier.

      Determining the coverages, and the coverage limits, involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a daunting task – and one that the insurance companies are not anxious to help you figure out. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides many sources for better understanding vehicle insurance issues. However, making sense of the entire puzzle is often more difficult that people realize, especially when they understand a small part of it. The attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles understand the whole puzzle. Let us put that understanding to work for you to get you the money that you deserve.

  • Does Florida cap non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, for a person injured in a car accident?
    • No. Florida does not set a cap on non-economic damages, which include damages for things like pain and suffering, and loss of the ability to enjoy life. Florida’s recent attempt to limit pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases was declared unconstitutional.

      Under Florida law, every driver needs to maintain at least $10,000.00 in both personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits and property damage liability benefits. For this reason, many auto accident claims are resolved without the need for either party to seek benefits from the other party’s insurance coverage, through a lawsuit or otherwise. If a party only seeks recovery for property damage, it may proceed against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, without first looking to its own. In many cases however, the injured party seeks recovery for his or her personal injuries in addition to property damage. Assuming that the party seeking those damages has first exhausted his or her own PIP benefits, he or she can file a claim for damages against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. "Economic" damages, for such things as the cost of medical care/treatment and lost wages, are available to claimants in most cases. However, "non-economic" damages, for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience, are awarded in a more limited number of cases, and almost always ones which deal with the most serious kinds of personal injuries. In order to recover these kinds of damages, the injured party has to show that he or she suffered a permanent injury, significant scarring or disfigurement, or death. Once entitlement to non-economic damages has been established, a jury may award them for harm which took place in the past, as well as for future harm which is reasonably certain to be suffered. These non-economic damages are uncapped. Keep in mind however, that if a jury awards an amount of money that the judge determines to be "excessive," the judge may reduce those damages after trial.

      For most parties involved in auto accidents, the quickest way to recover damages is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will usually issue demand letters to the appropriate insurance carriers as soon as practicable, and may issue proposals for settlement under Florida law. If the insurance carrier fails to cooperate with the client’s reasonable expectations, the attorney may file a lawsuit on his or her behalf. It is essential to keep in mind that very strict time requirements and statutes of limitations come into play in Florida auto accidents. If you feel that you are entitled to recovery stemming from an auto accident, consult an experienced attorney right away.

  • Can I be found to have been partially at fault for my injuries caused by a Florida car accident?
    • Absolutely. That goes back to what we call "comparative negligence." Under the theory of comparative negligence, each party’s percentage of fault is determined and then applied to the total damages that you incur as a result of the accident. You are entitled to recover only for that percentage of fault deemed to be caused by the other party or parties. For example, if you are found to be 50% at fault for causing your accident, and your case is worth $1,000,000.00, you can only recover 50% of that, or $500,000.00.

      Florida’s "no-fault" motor vehicle laws require any person who owns a vehicle to purchase both personal injury protection ("PIP") insurance and property damage insurance – each with a minimum coverage amount of $10,000.00. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.736 and 324.021. The essence of this no-fault approach is that it makes each Florida driver responsible for his or her own injuries, regardless of who is at fault for the car accident. Therefore, as long as you comply with the statutes and maintain the minimum required coverage, you will be able to recover your PIP benefits. PIP benefits cover the owner of the vehicle, as well as relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured vehicle, passengers of the vehicle, and those struck by the vehicle (as long as those individuals are not required to have their own PIP coverage, in which case, that individual’s policy would cover him or her). PIP pays a covered injured party up to $10,000.00 for medical/disability benefits and lost wages, with an additional $5,000.00 available in death benefits.

      It is important to remember two things. First, you must seek medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days of your accident in order to claim the full amount of your benefits, i.e., $10,000.00. If you do not, you will be limited to recovering a maximum of only $2,500.00 in benefits. Second, the "no-fault" principle only applies to your PIP coverage, not to the other driver’s bodily injury insurance. If the other driver has bodily injury coverage, and you claim those benefits to compensate you for you injuries, your comparative negligence percentage of fault will be determined, and your recovery will be proportionally decreased by your percentage of fault.

      Although the liability or potential liability of the parties involved in a motor vehicle accident may be cut and dry in some cases, the claims that you might have against a person who caused your motor vehicle accident might not be. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides many sources for better understanding vehicle insurance issues. With many other forms of motor vehicle insurance at play, including bodily injury liability (referenced above), uninsured motorist coverage, and collision protection, making sense of the entire situation, all while recovering from your injuries, will likely prove to be a nearly impossible task. When you add to that, you will likely be without a vehicle (or fighting to have the insurance company fix your vehicle), it can end up being one of the most stressful times in your life. It is crucial that you file any lawsuit to recover damages caused by a car accident within four years of the date of accident, or risk forfeiting any benefits to which you may have been otherwise entitled. Let the experienced personal injury attorneys and staff at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles guide you through the process, and get you the money that you are owed.

  • Can I sue the driver of the car I was riding in if I was injured in a Florida car accident?
    • The answer is, yes. You can go after anyone that causes your car accident whether you’re in their vehicle or another vehicle. It’s very simple – whoever causes the car accident is responsible for what they did, they’re responsible for paying all your medical bills, all your lost wages, and money for your pain and suffering. Keep in mind that the driver of the car in which you were riding must be at least partially at fault for causing the accident. If the two of you were rear-ended while stopped at a red light, the driver of your vehicle almost certainly did nothing wrong, and there is no reason to sue him or her. It is crucial that you are aware that you need to file an action to recover for injuries caused by a car accident within four years of the date of accident, or risk forfeiting any benefits to which you may have been otherwise entitled.

      Florida’s "no-fault" motor vehicle laws require any person who owns a vehicle to purchase both personal injury protection ("PIP") insurance and property damage insurance – each with a minimum coverage amount of $10,000.00. See Fla. Stat. §§ 627.736 and 324.021. PIP benefits cover the owner of the vehicle, as well as relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured vehicle, and passengers of the vehicle. The major concern for passengers who try to recover from the driver of the vehicle in which they were riding, is whether or not the passenger has (or is required to have) his or her own PIP policy. Put simply, if a passenger who does not own his or her own vehicle is involved in an accident, he or she can seek benefits from the driver’s insurance policy. However, if the passenger does own a vehicle (and therefore, is required to have his or her own PIP insurance) he or she must first seek coverage from his or her own policy, before going after the driver’s. PIP pays a covered injured party up to $10,000.00 for medical/disability benefits and lost wages, with an additional $5,000.00 available in death benefits. It is crucial that you see a medical provider within 14 days of your accident, or you risk losing the majority of your PIP benefits.

      PIP coverage should not be mistaken with bodily injury liability coverage. Bodily injury liability (or "BI") is coverage purchased by a vehicle owner which protects him against loss in the even that he causes physical injury or death to another individual in a car accident. If you are injured by another driver who has BI coverage – even if he or she is driving the vehicle in which you are riding – you might be able to seek benefits from the BI insurance carrier.

      Determining the applicable coverage and the coverage limits involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a daunting task – and one that the insurance companies are not anxious to help you figure out. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides many sources for better understanding vehicle insurance issues. However, making sense of the entire puzzle is often more difficult than people realize. Through years of experience, the attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles understand the law, the insurance companies, and what our clients deserve. Don’t regret leaving money on the table. Let us put our experience to work for you to get you the money that you deserve.

  • If I am in a car accident, will my lost wages be covered?
    • The answer is, it depends. Florida takes a "no-fault" approach to car accidents, which essentially is designed to allow drivers to seek insurance benefits from their own insurance company before claiming against another driver’s insurer. Under Florida law, every driver needs to maintain at least $10,000.00 in both personal injury protection ("PIP") benefits and property damage liability benefits. For this reason, many auto accident claims are resolved without the need for either party to seek benefits from the other party’s insurance coverage, through a lawsuit or otherwise. If you are in compliance with the law, under most circumstances, your no-fault insurance will pay you up to 60% of your lost wages caused by the accident. Once your PIP benefits are exhausted, if the person that caused the accident has insurance or assets that can pay for them, they must pay your lost wages.

      There are cases where the no-fault theory doesn’t necessarily apply. In cases where a party only seeks recovery for property damage, it may proceed against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, without first looking to its own. In many, if not most, cases however, the injured party seeks recovery for his or her personal injuries in addition to property damage. Obviously, those personal injuries are usually the cause of the injured party missing work. Assuming that the injured party first exhausts his or her own PIP benefits, he or she can file a claim for damages against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. "Economic" damages, for such things as the cost of medical care/treatment and lost wages, are available to claimants in most cases. However, "non-economic" damages, for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience, are awarded in a more limited number of cases, and almost always ones which deal with the most serious kinds of personal injuries. In order to recover these kinds of damages, the injured party has to show that he or she suffered a permanent injury, significant scarring or disfigurement, or death. Once entitlement to non-economic damages has been established, a jury may award them for harm which took place in the past, as well as for future harm which is reasonably certain to be suffered. These non-economic damages are uncapped. Keep in mind however, that if a jury awards an amount of money that the judge determines to be "excessive," the judge may reduce those damages after trial.

      For most parties involved in auto accidents, the quickest way to recover damages is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. This may especially be the case where you are injured and are prevented from working and earning a living. An attorney will usually issue demand letters to the appropriate insurance carriers as soon as practicable, and may issue proposals for settlement under Florida law. If the insurance carrier fails to cooperate with your reasonable expectations, the attorney may file a lawsuit on your behalf. It is essential to keep in mind that very strict time requirements and statutes of limitations come into play in Florida car accidents. If you feel that you are entitled to recovery stemming from an auto accident, consult an experienced attorney right away.

  • Personal Injury Drinking Accident
    • My friend was drinking and caused an accident

      Q: I recently caught a ride with a friend after a night of partying. He’d been drinking and got into an accident, which was his fault. I was injured and have very high medical bills. Who is responsible for my lost wages and medical bills?

      A: If you do not own a car or live with a relative that owns a car, your friend’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance would cover the first $10,000 of your medical expenses and lost wages.

      If your medical expenses and lost wages exceed $10,000 and your friend has purchased Bodily Injury Insurance Coverage (BI), the insurance company may be responsible for those additional expenses.

      Here is the tricky part: COMPARATIVE FAULT.

      The insurance company may attempt to keep from paying you by alleging that you were partly responsible, because you should have known better than to get in a car with an impaired driver.

      The legal term for this defense is called, "Comparative Fault."

      A jury will be asked to determine who is most at fault, your friend or you for taking a ride from an impaired person. If it is determined that your friend is at fault, then compensation may be awarded. However, if a jury determines that you are also at fault, then your compensation may significantly decrease.

      For example, if a jury awarded you $5,000, but also determined that you are 50% at fault, your friend would only be responsible for 50% of the jury award ($2,500).

      Protecting rights is what we do. With insurance companies working overtime to avoid costly claims and the new PIP No-Fault Law that took effect on January 1, 2013, automobile accident cases are more complicated than ever. We are dedicated to providing you the justice you deserve.

      Do you have a question you would like to see answered? Email info@rosenthallevy.com today.

  • Personal Injury Little Car Damage
    • Little damage to vehicles doesn’t mean you didn’t sustain major bodily injuries

      Q: I was at a stop light when a car slammed into me from behind. Although the crash sounded like a bomb exploding, there was very little damage showing on either car. I’ve always been in pretty good shape, but now I have horrible headaches and pain in my back and neck. I’ve never had that before. The other driver’s insurance company indicated that they aren’t convinced that my injuries came from this accident because there is so little damage to the cars. The doctor says that I will need treatment for a long time. Can I fight this and win?

      A: Yes, you can. Insurance companies will use whatever arguments they can to avoid paying injury claims. Showing evidence that there’s little damage to the cars might help them convince a jury that the injuries were not due to the crash. Even if you’ve never had neck or back pain before, they will try to persuade the jury your problems pre-existed the accident.

      Their attempts to shift the blame are one reason to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to fight for you. We’ll show that your neck and back pain are related to the accident – often by having your doctors testify that the accident was the cause of your injuries. There are other valuable resources that we can use to establish that your injuries were caused by the accident.

      Once we’ve established "causation," you will be entitled to your past and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity (future earnings), and pain and suffering. But you can be sure that the insurance company will look for ways to defeat you at every turn. If you attempt to handle this process without the assistance of an aggressive, experienced and qualified personal injury attorney, it will be challenging to obtain a fair and just recovery for what you have suffered.

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