I pose the question to you: When should you first contact an attorney after you or a member of your family has been involved in an automobile accident? Of course, as soon as possible following an accident. We have teams of investigators who are familiar with, and work with, our system. They are skilled at providing expert documentation of an accident scene. Their skills include photographing, videotaping, and digital mapping. If we do not recover anything for you, you owe us nothing for this service.
The more information our team has, the quicker we will be able to protect you and bring your claims to a conclusion. One word that each team member knows is not allowed to be used in our office is, “wait.” Waiting is falling into the hands of the insurance company’s vice-grip plan after you are injured. They know waiting is their best friend.
Any information, photos, insurance policies, statements, bills, accident reports, and anything else that will help support your claim is important to bring with you at the first appointment. Our team works to obtain all the necessary information. The more information you provide us, the easier it is to jump-start helping you. Our team will also establish several contact points to ensure the timely sharing of information so that no roadblocks come between you and your claim. Routine appointments with Dan and an open line of communication are established at the first meeting.
At the first meeting, you are introduced to contact personnel with whom you may communicate when Dan is unavailable.
If you have any family who will be helping you throughout your medical recovery and our representation, you are welcome to bring them so we can all be introduced. With your permission, they may be part of our open line of communication.
Often, people will stop by our office without an appointment just to ask questions. We always work to make time to answer any questions. Later, we introduce the process of what is needed to keep the ball rolling.
We understand the impact of intrusion into your life of harm, loss, and injury. It is unwanted, uninvited, and not needed. Whether you have a briefcase full of records or just the clothes on your back, we will work with you to help you through this complex process. We will also provide you with a system to keep all the records we need and to stay in touch.
One of the most important losses to people involved in a crash is damage to their property. One example helps explain this point. A friend came to our office an announced he had just been involved in a crash. His 1972 Cutlass was severely damaged. He wanted to know what he could do about that. When I saw him my first thought was had he been to the emergency room. When he said, “No”, I immediately took him to the emergency room where he had surgery for significant damage to his shoulder and knee. Many similar examples have taught me the importance of property loss.
As a result, I have filed lawsuits to test the law of Florida, as it relates to property damage several times. To date, the law does not fully compensate folks for their losses in many cases. I intend to continue this fight. I have plans to take these issues to the Florida legislature.
There are two important steps you must take before accepting any settlement regarding property loss.
The first step is to be sure and determine the full amount of the damage caused. Modern body shops have lasers that can easily measure any damage to your frame, for example. You should make sure to do this no matter how small the impact damage may appear.
The second step is to know all the provisions of your insurance policy that cover the loss. Your insurance company will likely assume you do not know this. You are entitled to a full copy of your insurance policy if you do not have one. You should request that immediately.
If you have suffered damage that is not determined to be a total loss of your vehicle or property, Florida law provides for several damages. These include loss of use, cost of repair, and for the reduced value caused.
Many insurance companies try to settle your property damage claim for just the cost of repair. Beware of this tactic as it has saved insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars. They will also encourage you to take your damage to a repair shop of their choosing. Be sure and review your insurance contract. We spend a lot of time reviewing insurance contracts with clients.
It is important to know your rights!
Your insurance policy may provide for compensation including paying for a rental vehicle. Insurance companies try to limit the amount they will pay daily for the rental and the time they will pay for the rental. This is covered in your contract or not depending on the coverage purchased.
Premiums for rental coverage is very reasonable. You should consider this at the time of purchase, so you are fully protected. Being without a vehicle is a huge inconvenience to most people.
In cases of disputed liability, the insurance companies like to get into an argument between themselves as to who is paying how much. If this occurs, call our office. This is a routine for us in protecting clients.
If your property is a total loss, the law of the State of Florida provides for valuation at the fair market value in most cases. If you owe $20,000 on a vehicle that has a fair market value of $17,000, the harm causer only owes $17,000. You are stuck having to take the $3,000 out of your pocket and cannot sue the harm causer for it in Florida.
There are gap insurance policies available from lenders and insurance carriers. They can prevent an unfortunate unneeded loss.
There are also provisions under Florida law that allows you to keep your vehicle if you are paid a price agreed upon. This is important to many people who may think they can repair their vehicle or they need it for parts.
Please call us before disposing of the vehicle. Some insurance companies will later claim they are at a disadvantage in defending their case due to your disposing of the vehicle. Dan has a prepared plan to make the insurance company regret they did that.
Insurance companies see paying for property damage claims as easy picking to save them big bucks. There are many scenarios where they are trained to do just that.
Everyone has seen the insurance company vehicles all over our local streets and highways. It is not unusual for the insurance company of the person who harmed you to be at your home before you arrive from the emergency room. Their purpose includes getting you to admit to some fault in the crash, or to offer you a nominal sum to settle all your claims.
All too often, Dan has been asked to review a document from the insurance company that the injured party received the day of or the day after the crash. That short, simple document is a very small check to them from the insurance company and a release of all claims against the person who injured them. That you were not in the right state of mind following the crash or were not aware of the full extent of your injuries is usually not a defense. Now they want to hire our team to recover the full extent of their harms and losses. Unfortunately, this is often made impossible by their acceptance of the very small sum of money and the signing of the release.
Beware, Beware, Beware!!!
Always kindly tell the representatives of the insurance company who contact you that you need to know the full extent of your harms and losses before discussing those with them. You understand this may take months and maybe over a year. In these kinds of situations, what is best is to know the rest. This requires you to “look before you leap.” This requires you to remember: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
After they contact you, immediately call our office so we can help you through this process. Our defense program requires them to cease and desist all communication with you and communicate with our office only. If they do not do this, we have a prompt response which can include sanctions against them.
This is extremely important. Do not think this will cause the insurance companies to the disrespect you. Over the years, Dan has represented many injured family members of insurance agents, officers, and board of directors of every insurance company in Florida-even while we continue to sue their employers in other cases.
To protect you from the insurance industry and defense lawyers, the specifics of our program are introduced to you over the time of your actual representation. We have even had representatives from insurance industries pose as potential clients at an initial free consultation. They do this to try to obtain as much information from us as they can. They never return for a follow-up.
Through our broad-brush approach, we hope you are able to appreciate our extensive work focusing on every detail of protecting you through our individualized system.
We hope you understand that in order to be The Champion it will require your full attention, communication, and to work closely with your legal team.
Please remember this system was developed throughout over thirty-five years of legal practice while representing thousands of injured persons and families. The system was formulated by speaking to and learning from many other attorneys around the United States and even insurance company executives.