When should I report an accident to someone else’s insurer?
Navigating insurance claims following an accident can be notoriously complicated. This is especially true if you feel that you are not at fault and your insurance company has not fully compensated or reimbursed you for injury or damages associated with an auto collision. You should always report an accident to the insurance carrier of a driver when it is remotely possible that they were at fault or partially at fault for the accident. It is important to do this as soon as possible following the accident, even if you are not sure of all the details.
Florida is a no-fault state which means that all drivers are required to purchase $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) designed to provide immediate funds to reimburse drivers for medical costs regardless of fault. However, PIP only covers between $2,500 and $10,000 of medical costs associated with an injury accident. Given that the average hospital stay is upwards of $10,000, many drivers are left wondering how to cover the remaining costs associated with a serious injury.
In Florida, you may find it appropriate to file a third-party claim on the other driver’s insurance to fully cover your costs. If the insurance company does not settle your claim in good faith, you still have options to recover damages. An experienced Tampa car accident attorney can help you to file a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company, potentially including a bad-faith insurance complaint, and seek the compensation you are entitled to under Florida law.
What is the Difference Between First and Third Party Claims?
In Florida, individuals are required to file a first-party claim with their PIP provider initially in order to recover compensation for injury or damages following an accident. When you file a first-party claim, you are making a claim against your own insurance company.
How much compensation you are eligible to receive is determined by the terms and limits outlined in your policy. First-party claims include claims filed through the injured individual’s health insurance, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, or uninsured/under-insured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
However, you may not receive full compensation for damages, medical costs, lost wages, or pain and suffering from first-party claims alone. In circumstances such as this, you may begin to explore possible third-party claims, especially if you suffered a serious injury and your medical costs or lost wages exceed what is covered by PIP insurance.
Third-party insurance is purchased by individuals in order to protect them in the event they caused an accident and their actions resulted in injuries or damage to another person or another person’s property.
You may file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance in the case of a car accident. If you were involved in an accident with a large truck, you can file a third-party claim against the driver’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Liability coverage.
Filing a Third-Party Claim
Third-party claims are filed with the at-fault driver’s insurance company in order to help recover costs associated with an accident and protect the person who suffered injury or loss as a result of the negligent actions of the other driver.
If you feel that the other driver is at least partially at fault in an accident that causes you injury or other damages, you should:
- Always exchange insurance information with the other driver involved in the accident.
- Take pictures and record details of the accident.
- File a “Notice of Claim” with their insurance company.
- File a police report.
Know that, when you report an accident to someone else’s insurer, you aren’t typically telling them all of your damages up-front. It can often take months before you have an accurate picture of the medical costs associated with your injury and damages to your property, when applicable. However, it is crucial to give notice of a claim to the other driver’s insurance within the policy window, which is usually 10-14 days after the accident.
Statute of Limitations to File a Third-Party Claim
In the state of Florida, you have up to four years after your personal injury accident to file a third-party insurance claim. But, it can be extremely difficult — in some cases impossible — to have the claim accepted if you failed to report the accident to the police and did not notify the insurer of a possible claim within the stated policy window.
It is also critical that you receive a medical exam to document your injuries and/or disability as soon as possible after the crash in order to receive compensation for medical costs associated with the accident. Otherwise, the insurer can argue that there’s no way to prove that the injuries you sustained were related to the accident since there’s no record of your medical condition in the immediate wake of the crash.
When a Tampa Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you feel you are entitled to a settlement because the insurance company of the at-fault driver in your auto accident did not address your claim, an attorney with experience in personal injury law can provide the assistance you need. An attorney can also help you seek to compel an insurer to cover the costs of your injury by filing a lawsuit. If the lawsuit can convince the insurer — or a jury — that the policyholder was at fault, you will be able to recover the money you need in order to move on with your life.
Contact the experienced attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz to discuss your options. Consultations are free, and our firm boasts an extensive record of fighting to receive maximum compensation for our clients.
Visit our website, or call (813) 774-3341 to talk with a knowledgeable professional dedicated to helping you understand Florida law and your rights under it.