My Actual Case: $25,000 Settlement. All the settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
Case Type: Personal Injury, Drunk Driver injures other car’s passenger
Injury: Back pain, leg pain.
State/County of Claim/City: Florida/Miami-Dade/Intersection of Shenandoah, Coral Gate, West Flagler (near Little Havana)
Claimant’s Attorney: Justin Ziegler
Insurance Company for Owner of Vehicle DUI driver was driving/Adjuster: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance/to be added
Limits of Bodily Injury Coverage: $25,000
PIP Coverage Available: $10,000
Date of Accident: 7/3/14
Age, Sex, Occupation of Client: 19, Female, Waitress
How Did This Car Accident Happen?
On July 3, 2014, Erika was a passenger in a car being driven by her friend, Wendy. I will refer to the car which Erika was a passenger in as the host car. Kenny was driving a car (Vehicle 1 in the diagram below) and making a left turn onto SW 8th street from SW 27 ave.
The host vehicle was traveling north on SW and 8 St. Kenny failed to yield the right of way and hit the host car. The host car then hit the building at 801 SW 27 Ave as a result. The host car is listed as Vehicle 2 in the diagram of the crash report (see image above).
After Erika hired me at the initial consultation in my office, we ordered the crash report on buycrash. The crash report stated that the driver of Vehicle 1 received a ticket for failing to yield – approaching/entering intersection, and another ticket for D.U.I. – Driving Under the Influence (Misdemeanor).
Police Thought That the Other Driver Was Drunk (Gave Him a Breath Test)
The crash report said that Kenny was suspected of alcohol use and a breath alcohol test was given to him. His BAC was 0.164 which was almost 2 times the legal limit.
Fun Fact: If drunk driver’s negligence injures you, the full value of your injury case is often higher than if you’re injured in the exact same accident except the driver was not drunk.
In order to maximize the value of your injury case, you should request the entire police department file. The crash report will state which police department investigated the accident. We sent a written request to the Miami Police Department for the entire police department file.
Erika Got PIP Insurance From the Car That She Was In
The host vehicle was insured by Windhaven Insurance. Erika did not own a car at the time of the crash. Although Erika lived with her mother at the time of the crash, her mother also did not own a car.
We sent a letter to Windhaven notifying them of our intent to make a PIP claim, and included with it a Statement-of-Vehicle-Non-Ownership form signed by Erika stating that she did not own a car or live with a resident relative who owned a car.
Windhaven Denies Bodily Injury Coverage
We also sent a written letter to Windhaven which made a claim under the bodily injury (BI) liability coverage in its auto policy. However, Windhaven sent us a letter denying BI coverage based on the fact that the driver of the host vehicle was an excluded driver.
While the general rule is that an owner of a vehicle is liable if the driver’s negligence causes injury to another in Florida, one exception to this rule is where the driver is an excluded driver under the policy such as Wendy in this case.
Property Damage to Vehicles
The crash report stated that the damage to both vehicles was disabling and both were towed from the scene. According to the crash report, the host vehicle had $3,000 in estimated damage, and the D.U.I driver was operating a car that had also an estimated $3,000 in damage.
Tip: The amount of property damage to each vehicle is often an important factor in the liability claims adjuster’s evaluation of the case. Property damage to the vehicles is one of over 13 factors that may affect an injury case settlement value.
Air Bags Deployed
The fact that both air bags in the host vehicle deployed increased the settlement value of Erika’s personal injury case.
We Requested the 911 Call
Since a crash report was issued, there was a high likelihood that 911 was called after the accident. We sent a written request to the Miami-Dade Police Department for the 911 audio recording. Here is the actual 911 audio call (Track 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to be added).
Tip: The 911 recording may increase the settlement value of the injury case, so you should request it. The 911 audio call is inexpensive, often costing only $3.00 or so.
Trial Day for DUI Case
I went to the criminal courthouse to attend Kenny’s DUI trial. The DUI is different and completely separate from the personal injury case. Due to a lack of evidence, the State Attorney agreed to reduce the charge from a DUI to reckless driving.
Tip: If the driver whose negligence caused your injuries is charged with D.U.I. – Driving Under the Influence, then you should attend the D.U.I trial. Be sure to show up early so that the case is not dismissed for lack of evidence (a witness).
Erika Went to Emergency Room Hospital Shortly After the Accident
Erika was taken from the crash scene as a passenger, not a patient, in an ambulance to Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH). She was diagnosed with a cut to her leg as well as a lower leg contusion (bruise).
She did not require stitches. Erika was given a bandage for her leg. Erika was smart to take a picture (see below) of the cut to her leg very shortly after the accident.
We took a picture (in my office) of my client with a bandage on her lower leg.
Erika also took a picture of the bruising caused by her wearing her seat belt.
Tip: Always take pictures of your injuries after an accident. Bruising and cuts can show that your injuries were caused by the crash as well as the severity of your injuries.
Tip: If you are injured in a Florida car crash and you are not wearing a seat belt, it may reduce the amount of a settlement.
Days after the going to the hospital from the accident scene, Erika had intense pain and went to Kendall Regional Medical Center emergency room. They took x-rays of her abdomen and back, which did not reveal any significant objective injuries (e.g. no broken bones).
I Helped Find Erika A Doctor (She Couldn’t Find One)
Erika had pain radiating down her leg. Erika could not find a doctor that would accept her health plan, Prestige. The doctor whom you treat with can have a huge effect on your case so I recommended her to Professionals in Health. On its provider network, PIH has one of the Florida neurologists who I recommend for treating car accident victims.
The neurologist saw Erika one time and recommended that she have an MRI of her neck and back, as well as attend physical therapy. The case settled with State Farm for the $25,000 bodily injury liability limits of the car that Kenny was driving.
Erika attended physical therapy at B & V Rehab. Fortunately B & V Rehab accept Prestige Health Insurance (a Medicaid plan). It was nice that B & V accepted Medicaid as many Florida physical therapists and doctors do not accept Medicaid.
Erika’s back and neck feel much better now. She has not had a neck or back MRI.
PIP pays Hospital bill; Hospital Balance is Zero Because Client had Medicaid
The host car’s PIP coverage paid $10,000 to Kendall Regional Hospital. The hospital then billed Medicaid for the balance after PIP paid. Medicaid paid nothing to Kendall Regional since Medicaid would have paid less to the hospital than PIP paid. So the hospital adjusted its balance to zero, which was great for Erika.
We Pay Medicaid from Settlement
In Florida, Medicaid is entitled to be paid from a personal injury settlement. The amount which Medicaid is entitled to be paid back depends upon the settlement amount.
Tip: If you are injured in an accident and do not have Medicaid but think that you may qualify, you should apply for Medicaid immediately as it may increase your net settlement.
After we were paid our attorney’s fees of 33 1/3% from the settlement and Erika’s medical bills/liens were paid, she received about $13,750.
*Not actual client’s name
This case was one of my many Florida car accident settlements with State Farm Insurance Company and settlements for people hit by a drunk driver in Florida.
Check out some of the many Florida injury cases that we have settled, including but not limited to car accidents, slip and falls, and cruise ships accidents. We want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state we may also be able to represent you.
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