My personal injury claims experience with Auto Club Insurance Company has been good.
In Florida, Auto Club Insurance car insurance goes by the names:
- Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida; and
- Auto Club South Insurance Company.
They use the AAA logo in their marketing. In this article, whenever I use AAA or Auto Club Insurance, I am referring to the same insurance company.
The case that I had with Auto Club involved in a big impact, multiple passengers, and limited bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance.
(Insurance companies typically pay more if the cars involved in the accident sustained big damage. They also tend to pay better if there are more than two passengers and low limits of BIL insurance.)
$25K Settlement with Auto Club for Miami Car Accident (Soft Tissue Injuries)
Odalys was a passenger was in a car accident in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, Florida. We’ll call that car the “host car”. Another car hit the host car.
The damage to the host car was big. (The photo is at the top of the article and below.)
The crash report said that she was wearing a shoulder and lap belt at the time of the crash.
An ambulance took her to the hospital from the accident scene. However, the hospital medical record said that she was unrestrained (not wearing a seat belt) at the time of the accident.
Why does this matter?
If you’re not wearing a seat belt, and you’re injured, the insurance company may offer you less money to settle your personal injury case.
At the hospital, she complained of neck pain.
X-rays and CT Scans Didn’t Show Injuries
X-rays were taken of her nose, chest and pelvis. CT scans were taken of her head and brain, and her neck (cervical spine).
The x-rays and the CT scans didn’t reveal any injuries.
She had a few follow up medical visits with a doctor. She had soft tissue injuries.
Passenger Wasn’t Entitled to PIP Insurance
Unfortunately, Odalys wasn’t entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This is because she didn’t own a car, or live with a relative who owned a car.
The driver of the car that Odalys was in – at the time of the crash – gave an Infinity Car Insurance card to the police officer.
I made a claim with Infinity, who said that the owner failed to add the car to the existing insurance policy. Thus, Infinity denied the claim.
This meant that the medical bills needed to be paid from the personal injury settlement, which I’ll discuss shortly.
Hospital Lowered Bill from $16,500 to $7,500
The hospital bill was over $16,500. We asked them to reduce it. They reduced it to $7,500.
Auto Club South Insurance Company insured the careless driver. He had a $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident BIL policy. The Auto Club claims adjuster was Stephanie Schmitt.
I reminded her that she had a duty to act in good faith to her insured. I also pointed out to her that there was limited insurance coverage.
Auto Club hired attorney Andrew Stone of Stone, Glass & Connelly to decide how to divide up the $50,000 per accident BIL insurance limits.
They paid $25,000 to Odalys to settle. This is the maximum that any one person injured in the accident could get from Auto Club.
The claim was settled within 3 months after the accident. Most of the settlement was for her pain and suffering. I represented Odalys.
$25K Settlement with Auto Club for Miami Car Accident (Minor Injuries)
In the same accident as I discussed above, another passenger also made a personal injury claim.
However, he did not take an ambulance to the hospital. But, he later went to the hospital.
He had a few follow up medical visits with a doctor. The doctor diagnosed him with soft tissue injuries.
The hospital bill was over $15,000. We asked them to reduce it. They reduced it to $7,500.
Auto Club South Insurance Company insured the careless driver. They paid the $25,000 BIL policy limits to settle. This was the maximum amount that AAA had to pay under the insurance policy.
The claim was settled within 3 months after the accident. I represented him.
These settlements are just two of my hundreds of Florida car accident settlements.
Passengers May Get a Lower Settlement For Not Wearing a Seat Belt
In Florida, adult back seat passengers are not required to wear a seat belt. However, minors are required to wear one.
When evaluating how much to offer you as settlement, will AAA will reduce the full value of your case if you weren’t wearing a seat belt, and it contributed to your injury?
In most cases, yes. In fact, AAA was involved in a case like this that went to trial. At trial, AAA lost.
The bad news for the injured passenger?
Florida’s First District Court of Appeal said that Florida’s seat belt law applies to back seat passengers. Of course, it applies to front seat passengers as well.
In American Automobile Ass’n, Inc. v. Tehrani, 508 So.2d 365 (Fla. 1st DCA 1987), Lorestani was riding as a passenger in the front seat.
Tehrani was riding in the rear seat. Neither were wearing seat belts.
After a wrecker struck them. Unfortunately, Both Lorestani and Tehrani were injured.
The appeals court said that the jury gets to decide if the rear seat passenger was negligent in failing to wear an available and operational seat belt. In order for the careless driver to successfully use this defense, the failure to wear a seat belt must have caused the passenger’s injuries.
Not wearing a seat belt can lower your case value. Even if you’re a back seat passenger.
Therefore, expect AAA to make a lower settlement offer if you weren’t wearing your seat belt. This assumes that the seat belt was available and working, and that you were injured.
Many Uber and Lyft passengers don’t wear their seat belts. This is a mistake.
Not wearing a seat belt may cause you to suffer worse injuries. Additionally, it can result in a lower settlement payout.
Don’t be surprised if Progressive (Uber’s insurer in Florida) makes a lower offer for not wearing a seat belt.
Expect York Risk Services (Lyft) to do the same.
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