Questions our clients ask the most
The following questions and answers are similar to ones new clients ask the lawyers at Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni & Walsh. They are presented here to give you a very general idea of the situations you will face if you begin legal action because you have suffered a personal injury, or a family member has suffered a wrongful death because of the negligence of another person. Just remember that every case of this kind can be unique. We urge you to contact us as soon as possible after you have had an accident to receive personal, professional legal support.
Q. What is an insurance adjuster and whose side are they really on?
A. After an accident you may meet or be contacted by a representative of your insurance company, or the insurance company for the other party involved in your accident, to discuss a settlement of your claim. These representatives, called "adjusters", are trained professionals. They are skilled at talking injured parties into settlements that benefit their employers, the insurance companies, rather than you. Although they will appear sincere and concerned, their sole focus is limiting the amount of your settlement. Remember, just as the adjusters look out for the interests of the insurance company, the Law Offices of Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni and Walsh will look out for you.
Q. Why can't I just take what the insurance company offered and get
on with my life?
A. An inadequate or unfair amount won't put the accident or act of negligence behind you. It will only leave you less able to handle the physical and financial pain and other possible complications that came from your accident.
It's easy to accept an insurance company's first offer. No matter what you decide, your attorney will be the person the insurance companies contact to try to settle your claim. However, the final decision to settle must be made with your consent.
Q. What will Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni and Walsh do for me?
A. Unless you are an experienced lawyer in the areas of personal injury or wrongful death cases, it's almost impossible to place a value on your case or know how much the insurance company should and will pay. We have over 100 years of combined Florida legal experience to help you answer these questions. Your accident may affect you for the rest of your life. We strongly suggest that you don't make a hasty decision. Remember, with Shapiro, Goldman, Babboni and Walsh, there is no charge for our initial consultation. What's more, if you don't make a money recovery you pay no legal fees or costs.
Q. Why do I have to sue my own insurance company for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits when someone else caused the accident?
A. Florida law (www/doi.state.fl.us) requires that a person who owns a vehicle carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Your PIP pays our medical bills no matter who causes the accident. Florida law does not require that people carry bodily injury/liability coverage in the event that they cause an injury to someone else.
The $10,000 that PIP coverage provides will not last very long if you are hospitalized as a result of an automobile accident. To protect yourself from mounting medical bills and permanent injuries, we urge you to purchase uninsured and underinsured liability insurance coverage. In addition to covering any outstanding medical bills, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will be available to you for pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life.
Q. What does PIP coverage pay for?
A. PIP coverage provides 80% of reasonable and necessary medical expenses and 60% of lost wages and replacement services if there is a disability note from a doctor. It also provides reimbursements for mileage and prescriptions, and $5,000 in death benefits.
This coverage is primary over regular health insurance and may have a deductible.
Q. The person who hit me has no insurance coverage. What do I do?
A. Report the accident to your insurance company. You can take the at-fault party to court and obtain a judgment against the owner of the car. If he/she fails to pay, report it to the Bureau of Financial Responsibility at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, so it can deal with the owner of the car. More importantly, if you purchased uninsured motorist coverage, you will have a claim for those benefits to compensate for your losses.
Q. What is Comparative Negligence?
A. This is a legal principle that says the amount of a person's negligence in an accident is determined by his contribution to the accident. In Florida, the percentage of the individual's negligence in the accident is usually subtracted from the amount you would otherwise recover.
Q. What is a deductible?
A. This is the amount of money YOU need to pay per claim before the insurance company pays its part. Generally, obtaining auto insurance with a deductible is not advisable. This is because you become responsible for significant medical bills, even though you may be unable to work due to injuries.
Q. Can I choose my own body shop to fix my car?
A: If the cost at the body shop you choose is higher than the one the insurance company chooses, you may be responsible for the difference.