Last Update: 01/11/16
When you are hurt in an accident – whether it’s a car wreck, a job injury, or a slip and fall – Florida law contemplates that people who are hurt can’t work; which means, they can’t earn a wage and pay their bills. Florida injury law addresses this issue by allowing an injured party to separately collect damages for things like “lost wages” as well as for “loss of earning capacity.”
Which is great, right? However, knowing that there’s law on the books to provide for an injury claim isn’t the same as getting money in hand to meet your immediate needs and those of your family. How do you move from knowing you have a right to funds to getting them so you can pay your house payment or make sure your kids have food on the table and the utilities are paid?
Paying the Bills After You’re Hurt in an Accident
There are several ways to deal with needing money after an accident. Some resources include:
1. PIP Coverage.
In Florida, as a “no fault” state, every driver in a car crash is legally required to carry “personal injury protection” (PIP) insurance. Every PIP policy provides for the payment of lost wages to the person who has been injured in a crash regardless of fault. PIP covers your lost wages if you were the one responsible for the accident just the same as if you were the one who was hit and not at fault.
However, PIP has time limitations and limitations in how much it will pay. Under current PIP law, there is a cap on what your PIP insurance carrier will cover in lost wages. To get this money, you have to timely file a PIP insurance claim with your carrier.
2. Bodily Injury Coverage and Other Insurance Coverage.
If you have a car accident insurance policy which provides for bodily injury coverage in the event you are hurt in an accident, then that policy may provide lost wages for you, as well. (bodily injury coverage pays for injuries caused by you and relatives who live with you, and others – and coverage applies only after PIP benefits are exhausted).
Other optional insurance coverage which may be helpful include: collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, medical payment, towing, rental reimbursement, and accidental death and dismemberment.
Again, find your policy, call you agent, and make a claim.
3. Specific Insurance Policy for Lost Wages.
There are other insurance policies that cover those times when you cannot work because of an accident or injury. This is called “disability“ coverage. You may recognize this kind of insurance from all those television commercials starring the AFLAC duck. If you have disability insurance then you can file a claim on that policy to cover your expenses when you are out of work as they are defined within the policy’s terms.
4. Savings and Other Resources.
If you need to pay some expenses immediately, then you may need to hit your savings account or lean upon your credit cards to tide you over until you can get those claims processed and paid to you.
5. Extensions of Time.
Contacting your creditors and explaining the situation sometimes helps. For example, some utility companies will work with customers who need some time extensions on getting their electricity or water bills paid after an accident. Some car loans may include a provision that allows you to skip a month’s payment without harm to your credit rating, and some mortgage companies may be willing to work with accident victims awaiting insurance claims, as well (call your mortgage company and ask them about a “Forbearance”).
Getting money fast after an accident is a major stressor after a family has already been shocked with a loved one being hurt in an accident. It’s possible to forge ahead alone in these situations; however, it’s important to recognize how helpful an experienced personal injury or car accident lawyer can be in this situation. One letter written on a lawyer’s letterhead may be more successful in getting a response from an insurance company or a creditor than a note from the accident victim, for instance. Experienced car accident and personal injury attorneys will also have lots of experience and knowledge on how to get a demand package together quickly and processed smoothly (they may also know who to talk to and how to deal with your creditors) when seeking a lost wages claim.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- How Much Money Can You Expect From Your Florida Car Crash Claim? Try Our Car Accident Compensation Form
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.