You were in a motor vehicle accident, you are not at fault, and now you’re wondering who will pay for your injuries and medical bills. Prompt investigation should be conducted into available insurance coverage and the collectability of potential defendants. Both may be sources from which to satisfy a judgment or negotiate a settlement for financial compensation. This is Part I in a blog series discussing prompt investigation of available insurance coverage, types of potentially available of insurance coverage, and analyzing collectability of the defendant.
Investigate Insurance and Collectability of Defendants
Once potential defendants are identified (see our blog articles Who’s Liable for a Motor Vehicle Crash? Part I-Owners, Operators, and Employers and Part II-Parents, Legal Guardians, Private and Public Agencies and Entities), each defendant should be analyzed in terms of available insurance coverage and collectability of the defendant. For example, certain times the available insurance coverage is sufficient to provide compensation for your injuries. However, at other times insurance coverage is minimal or non-existent, in which case appropriate inquiry should be made into whether the liable defendants are collectible themselves. The assistance of a private investigator retained by your attorney can be helpful in this process.
Prompt Investigation and Putting Insurance Carriers on Notice
Prompt investigation and claim notification is essential. One reason is that other parties may be seeking to have their claims compensated from the same insurance policy, in which case coverage (especially single-limit coverage) may be depleted quickly. An insurer should be promptly notified of potential claims to ensure that the insurer faces the good faith duty to attempt to settle as many claims as possible to minimize the insured’s exposure to liability. However, an insurer is often not required to notify other potential claimants before disbursing the full policy limits. Furthermore, if the decision is made in good faith, insurers are permitted to settle with only some claimants in certain situations. Therefore, both notification and prompt initiation of substantive communication regarding your claim is critical.
Acting promptly is also important because insurance companies can sometimes go out of business, in which case an organization known as the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) will set a deadline for filing claims and you may only have one year (instead of the normal four or five year statutes of limitations). Verification of the solvency of liability and under/uninsured motorist carriers can be done through the Florida Department of Financial Services in Tallahassee or FIGA in Jacksonville.
Seek Legal and Medical Services Promptly
For all of the foregoing reasons, it is imperative that a thorough investigation is conducted promptly to identify potential at-fault or liable parties. There are several additional steps to take immediately; one of which is seeking prompt medical care from an appropriate medical provider within 14 days of the accident to in order to preserve the full amount of your available personal injury protection (PIP) insurance benefits. Even when seeking timely treatment, PIP benefits may be limited to $2,500 should your medical provider determine that you do not have an emergency medical condition as a result of the accident. The speed of seeking treatment and determination as to whether or not you had an emergency medical condition following an accident will also be analyzed when reviewing evidence that you were in fact injured and the severity of your injuries.
If you would like to pursue your claim now or preserve your right to make a claim at a later date, contact a knowledgeable attorney promptly so you can ensure you do not fail to take important steps within the needed time limitations.
Contact us to discuss your claim and we will be happy to help you navigate the process in the manner most appropriate for your particular situation. We offer you the ability to speak with an actual attorney (in most cases within 24 hours) before choosing a law firm so that you can get to know us.