An accident occurs every three seconds in the United States, usually as result of someone’s carelessness or negligence. Unfortunately, in many of these accidents people suffer severe personal injury and damage to their property. In addition, those who have suffered personal injury will incur medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, and rental car expenses. Failure to adequately document or treat an injury may result in a significant reduction in the value of your case. Negotiating alone, or waiting until the insurance company makes an offer, can be frustrating and costly. Inexperience and guesswork about the value of your case can result in the loss of valuable rights and thousands of dollars.
Don’t guess what you should be doing in order to recover fair compensation.
Let the team of The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran, P.A. work for you.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran, P.A. will explore every avenue of liability coverage in order to maximize recovery for our clients. In addition to a negligent driver, the following parties can be held liable for the injuries caused in an automobile/motorcycle accident:
- Owner of the vehicle
- Automobile Manufacturer or Part Supplier
- Leasing Company
- Rental Car Company
- Automobile repair shop
- Corporation which owns vehicle involved in the accident
- Property owner of the location where the accident occurred or owners of real estate in the immediate vicinity.
Most auto accidents involve claims against insurance companies, and it is important for you to understand the types of coverage available. Florida drivers have options of insurance coverage that they can purchase. Some of those coverages are mandatory, while others are discretionary. Unfortunately, most insurance agents do not take the time to explain the options to their customers, and far too many individuals have no idea as to the coverage that they have or should have.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Florida law requires drivers to have at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (also known as “PIP”). It is important to know that this coverage does not actually allow you to receive any money directly, but does pay your medical providers for certain accident-related medical expenses incurred by you and covered family members. It is a “no-fault” type of coverage, meaning that individuals are entitled to this coverage regardless of who caused the accident. It is also important to know that your medical expenses will not be paid unless you seek treatment within 14 days after the date of the accident. The amount of the PIP coverage is selected by you at the time you purchase your policy, and typically, higher policy limits will also mean higher premiums.
Basic PIP covers these items, up to the dollar limits of your coverage:
- 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses
- 60 percent of lost wages and replacement services, such as childcare, home or even yard cleaning
- $5,000 for death benefits
Deductibles are an important element of PIP coverage, and your medical expenses must first exceed the amount of that deductible before any PIP benefits are paid. Florida insurers are required to offer PIP deductibles of $0, $250, $500, $1,000, and $2,000 (they may offer more choices at their discretion). The amount of the deductible is selected by you at the time you purchase your policy, and typically, lower deductibles will also mean higher premiums. Different insurers may offer different PIP packages, so check with your agents or do some comparison shopping on your own.
If you file a claim under the PIP portion of your coverage, your insurer must provide you with a notice of your rights, including available benefits, exclusions and limitations of PIP coverage plus information about when payments are due. Once the insurer has received written notification of PIP losses the company must pay your medical provider within 30 days or you are entitled to earn 10 percent interest on the amount of your loss until it is paid.
You must seek medical attention to protect your rights.
Damage to Vehicles
There is an important distinction between “property damage” to your vehicle and damage to another vehicle. Florida law requires drivers to have at least $10,000 in “property damage” liability, which pays for damages you cause with your car to another person’s car or property (including rental car reimbursement). In addition, you may also choose (but are not required) to purchase “Comprehensive” and “Collision” Coverage, which pays for damage to your own car (including rental car reimbursement), regardless of who caused the accident.
Bodily Injury (BI)
Florida law allows a party to recover damages for personal bodily injury, pain and suffering resulting from the negligence of someone else during the course of an automobile accident. This personal injury, pain and suffering must be permanent, and only a medical provider can determine such permanency. In order to recover personal injury damages, pain and suffering, you will typically be required to seek medical attention for your injuries.
Because this type of coverage is not mandatory, one of the first questions is whether the at-fault party had Bodily Injury coverage.
The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran, P.A. will explore the types of available coverage in order to protect your rights.
Uninsured Motorist (UM)
This coverage pays for damages that you would be legally entitled to recover from the at-fault party, when the at-fault party does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to cover your damages. It is important to know that this coverage is discretionary. Your insurance agent must offer it to you, and you have the right to accept or reject it. If you choose to reject it, your insurance agent will have you sign a document specifically rejecting the coverage. Unfortunately, many insurance agents merely present the rejection document to the customer for signature, without taking the time to actually explain what it is that they are rejecting.
You must understand that if you choose to reject the uninsured motorist coverage, an accident with an at-fault party who does not have bodily injury coverage is likely to result in you being unable to recover any damages whatsoever for any pain and suffering that you may have sustained as a result of the accident.
In Florida you can get uninsured motorist coverage in “stackable” and “non-stackable” forms. Stackable coverage means the UM coverage limits for each car covered on your policy can be added together. So, if you insure three cars and have stackable UM of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident (commonly referred to as “10/20”) the actual protection if one of these vehicles were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist would be “30/60”. Non-stackable coverage is a cheaper form of protection that limits coverage to individual vehicle limits, Insurers are not required to offer non-stackable coverage.
Although Florida has no-fault PIP requirements, you can also get more complete coverage by paying additional amounts for Medical Payment Coverage. This discretionary coverage would pay for reasonable expenses incurred for necessary medical services received within three years from the date of your accident (in addition to the amount already covered by PIP). One additional benefit to having Medical Payment Coverage is that it can pay for the 20 percent of expenses not covered by PIP.
SLIP AND FALL
Slip and Fall is the generic term for an injury which occurs when someone slips, trips or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else’s property. As a general rule, property owners have the duty to prevent or warn of dangerous or hazardous conditions on their property, which the owner knew (or should have known about). We have represented clients in slip and fall cases against numerous supermarkets, municipalities, convenience stores, schools, stadiums, department stores, office buildings, cruise lines, restaurants and shopping centers.
Sometimes it is difficult to remember that air and cruise travel is considered the safest way to travel long distances. Unfortunately, no means of transportation is completely risk free and like other modes of travel, airplanes and cruises are not immune from tragic accidents. A variety of problems can occur that result in an airplane accident including mechanical problems and pilot error. The lawsuits that result from airplane or cruise ship accidents are usually complex and unique. The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran, P.A has the resources, skills, and funding necessary to handle complex law suits. In Florida, and many other states, the laws allow family member survivors to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.
A negligent security accident takes place when a person sustains an injury due to the failure of the land owner or property manager to protect the injured from foreseeable crimes on or near the premises. We have handled negligent security incidents that occurred at hotels, shopping centers/malls, nightclubs, office buildings, and schools. Most victims suffer injuries as a result of a battery, sexual assault, robbery or other crime committed by a criminal perpetrator taking advantage of the insufficient security upon the premises. In many of these cases we are able to prove that the land owner was negligent for failing to take precautions to prevent a foreseeable injury.
In the state of Florida, a dog owner is strictly liable under most circumstances, for injuries and property damage caused by his or her dog. This type of liability is known as “strict liability” or “liability without fault”, meaning that if you get bitten by a dog you will not be obligated to prove that it was the dog owner’s fault. The basis for strict liability is that those who engage in certain kinds of activities do so at their own risk, and must pay for any damage that foreseeably results, even if the activity has been carried out in the most careful manner possible.
Below are some examples of animal related cases we can handle:
- Our client was at someone’s house and tripped over the dog, the dog owner was liable for the injuries suffered by our client.
- A dog attacked a man and the property owner our client was liable despite his efforts to deny ownership of the dog.
- A dog was wandering the streets and decided to walk in front of oncoming automobile traffic. One automobile swerved to miss the dog and crashed into another automobile. The occupants of both automobiles were severely injured and the owner of the dog was found liable for all damages.
- A client was injured when his foot was crushed by a horse. The owner of the horse was found liable for the injuries caused.
- A little girl was playing with a neighbor’s cat or dog when her face was severely scratched by the cat or dog.
It is important to note that most homeowners’ insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for dog bites.
Therefore, these claims must typically be pursued directly against the property owner.