About our Sarasota Insurance Disputes Attorneys
Having handled plaintiffs’ personal injury and insurance dispute claims for nearly two combined decades in the State of Florida, Julie S. Luhrsen, Esq. and Christina A. Goldberg, Esq., offer a vast knowledge of the intricacies of the insurance industry, and not only from a Plaintiff’s perspective. Christina A. Goldberg, Esq., while still managing her own plaintiff’s personal injury caseload, spent two years as an insurance defense attorney in a well known Tampa insurance defense law firm, representing a number of very large and very well-known automobile insurance companies in the State of Florida. Christina took this drastic leap into the insurance defense world in order to learn exactly how decisions are made by those companies, why coverage disputes arise, and how insurance companies use their nearly unlimited financial resources to deny payment to deserving, and frequently injured, insureds. This knowledge and experience has provided your Lakewood Ranch attorneys at Luhrsen Goldberg with vital insight as to how to best handle your case.
There are three terms you will frequently come across when attempting to understand the coverages afforded under a Florida automobile insurance policy. These terms are: Personal Injury Protection (PIP); Bodily Injury Coverage (BI); and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).
Personal Injury Protection (PIP), a.k.a. No-Fault Insurance
The Florida Statutes contain the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which requires that all motor vehicle owners in the State of Florida carry at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as Florida No-Fault Insurance. Your PIP insurance should cover not only you, but your spouse, children, and any relative living with you at the time of an accident. Although $10,000.00 is the minimum amount of PIP coverage required under Florida law, you are able to purchase additional PIP or Medical Payments Coverage.
PIP is designed to assist you with paying medical bills, reimbursing lost wages, reimbursing the cost of reasonable household services expenses, and in certain instances, providing your family with a death benefit as a result of accident-related injuries, regardless of who was to blame for the accident. However, given that insurance companies are in the business of making money, and not spending it, it is no surprise that PIP claims are not always honored.
A PIP claim is generally submitted directly to your insurance carrier by your health care provider. The bill is sent to the insurance company, and in theory, your bill is paid at the rate or fee schedule specified within your policy. In an effort to prevent the delay of payment to your medical provider, Florida law requires that your medical bills be paid within 30 days of submission by your medical provider. If bills are not timely paid, a 10% penalty and interest can be levied. Unfortunately, given the reluctance of many insurance providers to comply with their own policies and honor your insurance contract, many doctors have become reluctant to treat injuries related to PIP claims.
Bodily Injury Coverage (BI)
The best way to describe BI coverage in Florida is by example. BI coverage is insurance held by Driver A to pay for those damages caused by Driver A to Driver B. The State of Florida does not require that owners or drivers of motor vehicles maintain BI coverage, and given that BI coverage is the most expensive addition to an insurance policy, it is common to come across drivers with no BI coverage. If you are injured by a person who carries no BI coverage, your recourse is severely limited.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
UM/UIM coverage is insurance specifically put in place to protect yourself and your family. If you are involved in a car crash, motorcycle crash, truck crash or Drunk Driving Crash caused by a person who either carries no BI coverage, or who carries less BI coverage than you need to pay for your injuries, UM/UIM coverage comes to the rescue. We stress each and every day to our clients how important it is to protect themselves, and that it is never too late to add UM/UIM coverage to an insurance policy.
In order to carry UM/UIM coverage on your policy, you must first add BI coverage, and you may not carry more UM/UIM coverage than you carry in BI coverage. UM/UIM coverage must be specifically waived – so be wary! Your insurance company/agent make very little money, and will likely even take a loss, on the sale of UM/UIM coverage, and will attempt to convince you to waive coverage upon issuance. When considering, ask yourself one question: “Do I want to entrust other drivers, strangers, with the well-being of my (and my family’s) future?”
Florida Car Insurers Reluctant to Pay Claims
Regardless of which coverage you are making your claim under (PIP, BI, UM/UIM), insurance companies in Florida are often unwilling, for any number of reasons, to pay for injury costs. Insurance companies will typically question the extent of your injuries, the reasonableness of the treatment you have received, the permanency of your injuries, and even the truth of your complaints. Your claims may very easily be denied based on the findings of the insurance company’s hired “medical expert,” a person you will never even meet.
The attorneys and staff at the Lakewood Ranch Law Offices of Luhrsen Goldberg are incredibly well-versed and knowledgeable in, and have handled thousands of, PIP, BI, and UM/UIM insurance disputes. Whether you have injuries that require substantial care beyond the limits of your insurance policy, or you just need help getting the insurance company to pay your claim, working with an experienced Florida accident attorney knowledgeable in PIP, BI and UM/UIM claims can make a significant difference.
Our attorneys and staff are here to discuss your questions, concerns, and legal needs, and we look forward to meeting with you.