When you are hit by another vehicle whose driver made a careless, reckless or negligent mistake, you may suffer some serious injuries. Under Florida law, you're entitled to get financial compensation for your physical damages and injuries, and that's what the personal injury lawyers at Goldberg Noone are here to help you with.
The last thing you need following a crash is for your auto insurance company to jack up your premium payments because you've been in a crash.
Thankfully, Florida statutes regarding unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices have been enacted to ensure that does not happen.
“There are a lot of people who have had their car insurance premiums increased just because they were involved in an accident”, says Mike Noone, co-managing Partner at Goldberg Noone in Fort Myers. “Unless it's proven that the crash was caused by you, the insurance company is not allowed to raise your rates”. Noone spent years as a senior claims specialist at a large insurance firm before becoming a personal injury trial lawyer, so he knows how both sides see an accident claim.
Even though you pay your auto insurance premiums faithfully each month, getting an insurance company to pay you a fair and reasonable financial settlement in a timely manner can be like pulling teeth. After all, their business plan is to make as much profit as possible for their shareholders – they're never willing to pay off a damages or injury claim quickly, if they decide to pay it at all.
What Florida Law Says
There is a section within the Florida statutes pertaining to the ‘unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices' that spells out just exactly what is allowed and not allowed by a provider of automobile insurance. Some of the specific laws governing the insurance industry were just enacted as of July 1, 2018.
This is part of Florida Statute 626.9541:
3.a. Imposing or requesting an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer's file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident.
There are a number of other individual sections of the statutes that deal with improprieties between the insurance industry and Florida's consumers, and you can read them all here.
As mentioned, whether your insurance company is allowed to raise your rates depends on whether they feel you are found to be responsible or ‘at-fault' for the crash, or even more than 50% at fault. The problems come up when you and the insurance company cannot come to an agreement on just who caused the accident.
“Negotiating with an insurance company after the experience of being involved in a crash is very unnerving”, says Noone. “That's what we're here for – our job is to explore all of the circumstances surrounding your crash and your insurance claim and make sure the company is not ripping you off.” He goes on to point out that it never costs a thing to call a personal injury lawyer at Goldberg Noone to ask questions about your coverage after an accident, especially if you feel your insurance company is giving you the run-around.
“We're here to answer any questions you may have, and you don't have to pay a thing to get the answers you need.”
We've all seen the TV ads that offer policyholders an “accident forgiveness” option or clause in their auto insurance coverage by some companies. That means that if you have one crash that was caused by you, they'll supposedly ‘forgive' you that one, as if it never happened, and not increase your insurance premiums. But, maybe those types of policies and how much you pay for them isn't the best financial value. You should also ask your insurance provider to spell out exactly how long you will be expected to pay the higher premiums after a crash you caused. If the answer is ‘forever', start looking around for another company.
In fact, it's always a good idea to shop around annually for your car insurance. It can take a little time and you really need to know how to compare apples to apples to make sure you get adequate coverage at a fair price, but in the end, it could save you a significant amount of money.
If you've been involved in a crash that was not your fault and your insurance company tells you your rates are going up, you could use an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. All auto insurance companies – who employ armies of lawyers, by the way - understand that once you hire an attorney, everything changes. Negotiations and all communications are handled by our firm, and you won't have to deal with their hassles and aggressive tactics anymore. They will begin to immediately take your claim much more seriously, and not try to get you to accept a fast, low-ball settlement amount just to get you to go away.
Goldberg Noone, LLC, has been helping people who have been involved in a serious car, motorcycle or trucking accident for nearly 20 years. Our clients only pay us a fee when we are successful on their behalf, either in negotiating a settlement or through a verdict in a trial. Call 239-461-5508 or just fill out this simple form and a personal injury attorney will reach out to you immediately.