Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (PressExposure) October 24, 2009 -- On a recent windy day, a tree fell across a busy highway, damaging a car and injuring the driver. The driver was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. Who does the driver look to for compensation for the damage to his car and his injuries? Which insurance company should pay? and how much?
To answer the original question about the tree falling on a car on the highway: it depends. Was the tree on private property or public? If it was on public property, a claim must be made usually within 90 days, with the municipal governmental body where the tree was situated, explain by Stephen Miller, personal injury attorney at the law firm of For Your Lawyers and For Your Law. If the tree was on a private homeowner's property, then the driver would have three years to bring suit against them.
The driver's medical bills would be paid for by the car's no fault insurance carrier up to $50,000 because it was while the car was in operation and then any private insurance would kick in after that coverage was exhausted. If this is found liable, the municipality (or homeowner) would ultimately compensate the driver for injuries, disabilities and economic losses sustained as a result of the accident. However, municipalities have a long history of not wanting to accept liability or pay damages. And that is why experienced lawyers in the field become an essential component in the quality and quantity of compensation for accident victims everywhere.
"Laws are strict and each type of accident and potential lawsuit has a set of procedures and a time limit within which to bring that claim," explains Stephen Miller, personal injury attorney at the law firm of For Your Lawyers and For Your Law. "In Florida, for example, a person has three years from the date of a motor vehicle accident or "slip and fall" to start a lawsuit. The time limit for medical malpractice is two-and-a-half years. Miller points out that even if a person is permanently disabled by the accident or injury, he or she cannot sue under most circumstances if the time limit has passed for making a claim or starting a specific type of lawsuit unless a court in that jurisdiction specifically rules otherwise.
If an accident or injury was caused by another driver, the victim should be awarded money from the insurance company covering the vehicle and driver that caused the injuries. "In many cases, however, the limit of the other driver's liability coverage is too low to fairly compensate the victim," according to Miller. That is why we always recommend that our clients all obtain supplementary insurance often called "under insurance" to protect a person and his family from the kind of irresponsible drivers who not only drive unsafely, but then don't carry sufficient coverage to fully compensate someone they injure in an accident. This is usually not very expensive and is one of those things that can mean so much if you find yourself involved in an accident with an under insured motorist.
Stephen Miller notes that victims of automobile accidents have the right to sue to recover money for all economic losses and costs for care and lost earnings in the future, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, as well as for physical and psychological impairments caused by the accident. In Florida which is a No Fault State, automobile insurance companies are obligated under the law to pay "no fault" benefits that cover reasonable medical, hospital and other necessary expenses, including lost earnings, up to a total of $50,000. This is regardless of fault. "Unfortunately, $50,000 does not go as far as it used to toward paying medical bills, let alone replacing lost income," says Miller.
Consult with an attorney if the other driver may have been under the influence of alcohol. "Accident victims often don't think to mention to an attorney when they suspect that the other driver may have been consuming alcohol," says Miller. "If a person is injured by an alcohol-impaired driver, he or she can sue that driver for negligent operation of a motor vehicle as well as the bar or restaurant - and in some cases even a homeowner - that served alcohol to the other driver."