Brandon Stein Personal Injury Lawyer Blog: PIP and Your Settlement

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was hurt or injured in an accident, contact our Fort Lauderdale car crash attorneys today.

As a personal injury lawyer in South Florida that helps those injured in car accidents, there is always one aspect to the case that my clients have a difficult time grasping. While laws surrounding automobile insurance coverage vary from state to state, in Florida, car accident attorneys must have a wealth of knowledge related to Personal Injury Protection or PIP for short.

Essentially, PIP coverage provides up to $10,000 of benefits to those injured in car accidents.  For those living in Florida, it is extremely difficult to listen to the radio or watch television without hearing an advertisement guaranteeing $10,000 if you are injured in a car accident.  Unfortunately, many Floridians take this type of advertisement at its word and fail to recognize that the entire story is not being told.

What Florida car drivers fail to recognize is that these attorney advertisements rarely inform the prospective clients that the $10,000 PIP benefits typically only applies to medical expenses, lost wages, and other limited reimbursable expenses.  Thus, if you are injured, you are not automatically entitled to $10,000 in your pocket.  In fact, when a North Miami Beach lawyer attempts to settle a car crash case, that $10,000 PIP benefit affects the personal injury claim as well.

When a person is injured in a car crash and retains a South Florida lawyer, the ultimate goal is maximizing the settlement and total recovery for the client.  However, those injured in car accidents rarely understand PIP law and how it affects their personal injury settlement.  In fact, most attorneys do not even understand PIP law due to its constant change.  And when it comes to a bodily injury settlement, insurance companies always take into account the $10,000 PIP “set-off.”

In essence, if a car accident claim is valued by a Florida lawyer to be worth $15,000, then it must be made clear to the client that the total bodily injury settlement will not be $15,000. After the $10,000 “set-off” is applied, the total bodily injury settlement that the client sees at the end of a case is a mere $5,000.  Yet, in reality, the settlement can be viewed as a $15,000 settlement assuming that the client received the necessary medical treatment which incurred bills up to $10,000.

This PIP “set-off” applies at any point in the litigation — whether it be at settlement before a lawsuit is filed by a Fort Myers personal injury lawyer, or upon reaching a verdict in a Miami, Florida courtroom.  The key is education.  A client injured in a car accident must be sufficiently educated in this area, so as to prevent skepticism and venom directed back from the client.  Ultimately, regardless as to the total bodily injury settlement reached in Florida, it is vital to tell your client that $10,000 must be added to the top to reach the true value of the claim.

Injured?  Contact our Pembroke Pines accident lawyers today!


Brandon Stein Law: Car Recalls in the Distant Past Can Injure You Today

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in an accident involving a defective vehicle, then contact our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys today.

Being a lawyer in South Florida that helps those injured from defective cars, I find that it is not always the newly recalled vehicles that are responsible for hurting my clients.  Earlier this year Honda recalled approximately 750,000 defective vehicles, including the Honda Pilot and Honda Odyssey.  Nevertheless, it is frequently the vehicle owners, rather than the lessees, that have issues with defective functions of their purchased car.

In fact, as a North Miami car accident lawyer, I have come across many clients that are injured in crashes when they are at fault.  Typically, this is a very difficult case given the issue of liability.  However, if the cause of the person’s injury is primarily due to a defective functionality within his or her car, then the case turns against the auto manufacturer, rather than the other driver’s insurance.

Naturally, a key component when purchasing a vehicle is its safety features and reliability.Yet, purchasing a vehicle involves extreme stress, so the furthest thing from most people’s minds are inherent defects resulting from faulty manufacturing.

In general, it typically takes a tragic circumstance to warrant change or even to notice an issue.  The same can perhaps be said when it comes to car recalls — all it takes is one accident to put the manufacturer and public on notice of an inherent defect with the vehicle.  Once the vehicle manufacturer sends out word of a recall, and the media catches wind of this, it is undoubtedly the “hot” story that is being covered during that time — that is…until the next “hot” story comes along.

For a Fort Myers car accident attorney, a question that is invariably posed by a client is: “How do I know if I am driving around in a defective car?”  Unfortunately, unless a formal recall is announced by the manufacturer, there is no way of knowing absent conducting your own personal inspection of the vehicle, which is certainly not a reasonable task.  However, it is definitely smart to periodically check your vehicle website to see whether any recalls have been announced.

For example, Honda has an area of their website dedicated to vehicle recalls. Once logged into that site, all a car owner needs to do is input their VIN for the vehicle to check whether any recalls exist for that particular make and model.  If an owner’s vehicle does come up with any type of defect, then the remedy is to simply contact the dealership and advise them of the issue.

As a Florida lawyer that sues for persons injured from car defects, the most common type of defect causing injury from a car accident involves the seat belts and air bags.  Thus, the failure of an air bag to deploy in a serious car accident can be detrimental for a driver. Similarly, improper functionality of a seat belt can leave a driver seriously injured no matter how serious the car accident is.

Injured in a car accident involving a defective vehicle? Contact our North Miami Beach personal injury lawyers today. 


Brandon Stein Law: Carnival Cruise Passengers Remain Stranded at Sea

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured, contact our Fort Lauderdale accident lawyers today.

As a Florida personal injury lawyer that helps those injured from slip and falls on cruise ships, the events that have transpired aboard the Carnival Triumph are appalling.  This past Sunday, a fire in the ship’s engine room left the cruise liner stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.  Thankfully, this fire did not gain much momentum, as the ship’s extinguisher systems contained the flames.  No injuries have been reported . . . from the fire.

The fire apparently dismantled and disengaged the ship’s propulsion system, thus leaving the ship to drift aimlessly throughout the gulf.  However, by Tuesday, two tugboats had arrived to tow the vessel toward Alabama — at a whopping 5-8 miles per hour.  This four day cruise has now turned into a week plus escapade, and it has been far from an extended vacation.

Reports have been circulating that sewage has apparently been floating around in the hallways of the ship — leading to flooding of passenger state rooms.  Additionally, the stench of sewage throughout the interior of the vessel is enough to make passengers jump overboard.  No throw-overs have been reported as of yet.  In fact, passengers have gone so far as to drag their mattresses to the outer deck and essentially camp outside under the stars in an effort to escape the suffocating smell of sewage.  But wait . . . there’s more.

Passengers have even been told to defecate in bags and urinate in showers, as the toilets have not been functioning.  There is running water is some cabins, but only cold.  Yet, this cold water may serve to be refreshing for passengers, since the air conditioning is also out.  Aside from the 3000 plus passengers aboard, over 1000 crew members are also dealing with these hardships.

Being a slip and fall lawyer in North Miami Beach that does Carnival cases, I have never come across a situation such as the one that the passengers of the Triumph are dealing with.  Carnival is apparently refunding all passengers’ tickets and giving them a free flight home and credit for another cruise.  I am not sure this is enough, and at this point, it is not clear what if any injuries have arisen from the circumstances aboard the Carnival Triumph.

Injured?  Contact our North Miami Accident Lawyers today!


Brandon Stein Law: The Power of a Lawyer Negotiating Your Settlement

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in an accident, contact our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys today.

A non-lawyer should never negotiate settlement of a personal injury claim in Florida.  As a lawyer that helps those injured in car accidents or slip and falls in North Miami Beach, I have come to recognize that the value of a claim increases exponentially when an attorney becomes involved.  In fact, many insurance companies will give insultingly low offers to those unrepresented.  Nevertheless, once a Florida personal injury lawyer sends a letter of representation to the insurance company, we have a completely different ball game.

The mentality of insurance companies is that claims must be resolved in the fastest and cheapest way possible.  These two “musts” are easily accomplished when someone injured in a car accident or slip and fall in Florida decides not to retain an attorney.  While I have never worked for an insurance company, I strongly suspect that the “game plan” for a claim changes drastically when it is known that the person injured is attempting to resolve his or her claim on their own without the assistance of a South Florida personal injury lawyer.

A key asset for Pembroke Pines injury attorneys is the possibility that a lawsuit could be filed — which ultimately could lead to trial.  That is an instance where a simple claim could turn into a nightmare for an insurance company because once a lawsuit is filed, legal counsel must be retained and of course paid.  On top of the attorney’s fees that the insurance company would have to dish out, a pricey settlement or verdict is most likely forthcoming as well.  This is the fear factor of every pre-suit claim.

The power that a lawyer has when dealing with insurance companies is the ever-present fear of what may be coming.  An injured person that is “self represented” does not strike fear in the heart of an insurance company.  In actuality, it triggers the exact opposite response.  In that case, the adjuster turns into the predator and its prey is the innocent unrepresented person.

Injured in an accident?  Contact our North Miami car accident attorneys today!

Brandon Stein Law: Honda Recalls 750,000 Defective Vehicles

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in an accident, contact our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys today.

Being a North Miami Beach attorney that sues for car accidents, I have come to recognize that it is not always the drivers on the road that cause injury from serious crashes.  Miraculously, people walk away uninjured from the most devastating car accidents because of the safety features that motor vehicles offer.  Safety features such as seat belts and airbags are vital to ensure the well-being of drivers and passengers. However, when the design or manufacture of vehicles are defective, a not so serious car accident becomes escalated into an extremely serious crash.

We are just three weeks into the new year, and Honda has already recalled 750,000 vehicles due to airbag deficiencies.  According to reports, these Honda vehicles, including the “Honda Pilot” and “Honda Odyssey,” are missing rivets that could potentially cause the driver’s side airbags to fail to properly deploy upon collision.  Putting the law aside, common sense tells us that placing these vehicles on the market for consumer purchase can leave Honda exposed to significant personal injury claims filed by South Florida car accident attorneys.  In fact, this is especially true if further investigation reveals that Honda either knew or should have known of the apparent defect.

This particular recall involves the Honda Pilot models that had been produced between the years 2009 and 2013, as well as the Honda Odyssey minivans produced from 2011 through 2013.  As a Fort Myers personal injury attorney, the first thing I would suggest to owners of these recalled vehicles would be to take it to your Honda dealership and have it thoroughly inspected to ensure the airbags are functioning properly.

At this juncture, it appears as though these vehicles were assembled improperly.  Honda has released a statement indicating that certain rivets are missing, which are largely utilized for ensuring the proper deployment of these driver-side airbags upon impact.

No lawsuits have been filed by North Miami personal injury lawyers, nor have any injuries been reported as of yet.

Injured in a car accident?  Contact our Hollywood personal injury attorneys today!

Brandon Stein Law: Is a Claim Denial Really a Claim Denial?

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident or slip and fall, contact our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys today.

As a North Miami Beach personal injury lawyer, my work is devoted entirely to assisting my injured clients with obtaining the compensation they deserve.  For those injured in slip and falls or car accidents, the first question that should always be asked is whether the offending party has liability insurance.  Once that question is answered in the affirmative, then it is my job to contact the insurance company’s representative to inform him or her that we are asserting a claim against their insured.

Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely, if ever, convey offers to resolve personal injury claims without first receiving a demand for resolution from the injured party.  As I further commented upon in my post from December 17, 2012, a South Florida attorney values a car accident or slip and fall case based upon the extent of the injury sustained by the client.  As we all know — a million dollar case needs a million dollar injury.

So, after a client obtains all of the treatment and therapy needed to remedy their injury, the time has come to submit a formal demand for resolution to the insurance company.  One would hope that the insurance company responds to this demand favorably and with a reasonable offer.  However, this is not always the case, as some insurance companies take the tactic of denying a claim without any offer.  This is especially the case if a person injured in a car accident or slip and fall attempts to settle with an insurance company without retaining the services of a Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer.

Nevertheless, this “denial” tactic utilized by the insurance companies often times is a way for them to flex their muscles in the early stages of the negotiation process.  Yet, this strategic move is most likely used because it works in some situations, thus when a Florida personal injury attorney or injured party receives a claim denial, they essentially give up and close their file.  But is a claim denial really a claim denial?

I cannot stress how important it is to draft a carefully crafted demand containing a legal basis for your claim.  Simply sending a demand with an arbitrary number without any legal grounds for the claim is not a sure fire way of resolving your claim for its maximum value. In fact, this sends the opposite message to the insurance company — you might as well write in fine print at the bottom of the demand: “My case is weak.”

A formal demand for resolution should not be rushed.  Other than informing the insurance company of the claim, this is the first impression that an Florida trip and fall personal injury attorney is making — so make it count and have that demand carefully worded and extremely detail oriented.

Injured?  Contact our North Miami personal injury attorneys today!

Brandon Stein Law: Don’t Let the Embarrassment of a Slip and Fall Hurt Your Case

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured, contact our Fort Lauderdale slip and fall attorneys today.

As a North Miami Beach personal injury lawyer that sues for slip and falls, it is apparent that the moments immediately following a fall are vital for the successful resolution of a case.  It is perfectly understandable that after suffering a devastating fall a person is not thinking about a future lawsuit.  Once that person hits the ground, the only thing crossing his or her mind is the severe pain making its way through their body. Oh yeah, and the extreme embarrassment of taking a huge spill in a public place in front of several people may cross a person’s mind as well.

Putting all of those emotions aside at the time of a slip and fall is not the easiest thing to do.  In fact, being a Fort Myers slip and fall attorney, I frequently notice that a client’s initial reaction after a fall is to get up and leave the scene.  While this may seem like a minor action, it can be extremely damaging to a future personal injury claim.

Immediately following a slip and fall at a store or other business outfit, a person injured should ensure that an incident or accident report is generated.  And if the store owner or employee does not offer to create an incident report, make sure you demand that an accident report is generated and completed with precise details explaining the nature of the fall and the extent of your injuries.  Keep in mind that this document, or lack thereof, is utilized as evidence by the defendant in later proceedings.

For South Florida trip and fall lawyers, litigating a case down the road proves to be extremely challenging should the client fail to complete an incident report following their fall.  Ultimately, an argument must be cleverly devised to explain the client’s failure to complete an incident report. Simply put, it is very easy for a defense lawyer to raise the argument to a jury that: “If the person was so hurt and injured, then why didn’t she take the time to fill out an incident report….what is she hiding?”

Injured?  Contact our Aventura personal injury attorneys today!

Brandon Stein Law: Florida Supreme Court Affirms Existing Law Surrounding Rear-End Car Crashes

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, contact our Pembroke Pines personal injury lawyers today.

Many car accident lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are wired to think that the best possible auto case is the collision when their client was rear-ended.   While I am not disputing this opinion, and in many circumstances the best cases are those with rear-end crashes, they are not always a slam dunk on liability.  In fact, Florida courts have gone so far as holding that the driver rear-ended may incur some form of liability.

This past November, the Supreme Court of Florida heard arguments on a case out of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Florida regarding this very issue.  The Supreme Court reiterated that in Florida recovery for personal injury cases are governed by the principles of comparative negligence.  Simply stated, comparative negligence means that even though a party is primarily responsible for causing injury to another, juries can hold the injured party partially liable if that injured person is found to be negligent in causing the car accident.  Nevertheless, in Florida when a rear-end collision occurs, a presumption of negligence against the rear driver arises.

So, this past November the question of law to be decided by the Supreme Court was whether this presumption of negligence can be rebutted if the rear driver shows some negligence on the part of the front driver.  The Florida Supreme Court concluded that a rebuttable presumption of negligence exists in car accident cases involving rear-end collisions.  Ultimately, if the rear driver is able to produce evidence supporting some negligence on the part of the front driver, then a jury may apportion some blame for the accident on the front driver.

As a Fort Myers car accident lawyer that handles personal injury, this is not the type of case law that I typically like to see, nor would ever rely upon.  Yet, I cannot completely disagree with the court’s rationale in making this ruling, for a perfect example of the necessity of this rebuttable presumption arises during staged car accidents.  In my post from January 8, 2013, I fully explained staged car accidents and the increasing number of these fraudulent claims sweeping across Florida.

Nonetheless, this holding set down by the Supreme Court on November 21, 2012, is more ammunition for Florida auto insurance companies and their lawyers to utilize during claims involving rear-end collisions.  And for North Miami Beach car accident lawyers, this is case law that certainly must not go unnoticed.

Injured in an accident?  Contact our Aventura personal injury lawyers today!


Brandon Stein Law: The Harsh Reality of Staged Car Accidents in Florida

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured, contact our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers today.

Here in Florida, one would be hard-pressed to go a day without hearing an advertisement on the radio declaring that if you are injured in a car accident, then you are entitled to $10,000.00 in benefits.  While this is technically true, just like any other advertisement, it is very important to recognize the fine print.  For this particular type of ad, the fine print is that you must be injured and you must be treated by a doctor.  Oh yeah — and those $10,000.00 of benefits you are hoping for, they go directly to the doctors that treat you for your injuries.  The last place that money goes is into your pocket.

As a North Miami Beach car accident lawyer, this is a common misconception that many of my clients have, for they expect to recover $10,000.00 simply because they were involved in a car crash.  Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that the doctors and health clinics reap the benefits of the payments tendered by the auto insurance companies.  Now, there is nothing wrong with this so long as a person injured in a car accident receives the treatment that he or she needs in order to get better. However, from time to time prospective clients come through the door hoping to file a claim against an auto insurance company with the expectation of making a quick buck.  While some South Florida car accident lawyers may take on this type of client, I certainly do not.

Nevertheless, where there is a will, there is a way.  When one hears the term “insurance fraud,” the first thing that comes to mind is fraudulently taking advantage of homeowner’s insurance or a life insurance company.  Yet, it has been the auto insurance companies that have been taken to task by these fraudulent and dishonest individuals through Staged Car Accidents.

A staged accident is essentially an intentional car accident committed or staged by a driver looking to fake an injury and raise a claim against an auto insurance company. Typically, the fraudulent individual looking to stage theses types of crashes recruits an accomplice to sit in the passenger seat and fake an injury as well.  Additionally, this passenger will corroborate the driver’s story that the other innocent victim car caused the crash.

While these staged car accidents can occur in any fashion, the most common form of accident is referred to as the “Swoop and Squat.”  Essentially, this type of crash occurs by the fraudulent vehicle cutting off the innocent car and then stopping short causing the innocent vehicle to crash into their rear bumper.  Immediately following the crash, typically the passenger of the vehicle will exit the car complaining of back and neck pain from the ‘whiplash’ effect from the rear-end collision. Shortly thereafter, 911 is called and police arrive to the scene.  After a police report is generated, that is when the fraudulent individual makes a claim against the innocent victim’s auto insurance company.

Being a Fort Myers car accident lawyer, I have become extremely aware of this fraudulent “business” and always mindful of it when evaluating potential auto accident cases.   This has forced my entire firm to increase the intensity of the new client screening process, as this insurance fraud cannot be tolerated.

Injured?  Contact our Aventura car accident attorneys today.

Brandon Stein Law: Liability and Auto Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friend

Brandon Stein

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident or slip and fall, contact our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys today.

As a Fort Myers lawyer that helps those injured in car accidents and slip and falls, I spend the greater part of my days writing and speaking with claims representatives of insurance companies.  Before a lawsuit is filed, the communication I frequently have regarding my client’s injuries are with the adjuster handling the liability claim for the insurance company. Moments after a car accident or slip and fall occurs and a person is injured in North Miami, the insurance company begins its investigation of the claim — often times this occurs even before a lawyer gets involved.  In fact, the insurance investigation often begins with an innocent phone call to the injured person.

However, very rarely is this phone call innocent.  In fact, the only person who perceives this phone call as being innocent and harmless is the client who has just been injured and is not thinking clearly.  While the adjuster may seem to be concerned with your injury and extremely nice and cordial over the phone, he or she certainly has a hidden agenda and is operating under the direction of the insurance company.  Every question that the adjuster asks is calculated to lead to information that assists with their investigation.  Also, often times these ”innocent” phone calls are recorded and are utilized as a powerful tool against South Florida slip and fall lawyers in litigation.

Sadly, it is the innocent, vulnerable, injured client that is taken advantage of during the early stages of the litigation.  While the client may believe that he or she is helping the claim by arguing the case to the adjuster, typically the exact opposite occurs.  Unfortunately, it is the Naples personal injury lawyer that is left to clean up the pieces and salvage the claim.

During the course of my representation for these injured clients, I constantly educate and inform them that this entire process is viewed by the insurance company as a business and decisions made by the company are often “business decisions.”  The insurance companies rarely, if ever, sympathize with the tragic injuries that my clients endure, for the adjusters are simply looking for ways to poke holes in our case and diminish the value of the claim.

Ultimately, the reason why those injured in North Miami Beach hire car accident lawyers is to represent them and obtain adequate compensation for their loss.  Once an injured client is represented by a lawyer, then that client is (or should be) instructed not to discuss their case with anyone — including the insurance company.  While this mantra is preached during representation of a client, there is no reason why those injured do not follow this instruction even before retaining a lawyer.

Injured in a car accident or slip and fall?  Contact our Pembroke Pines personal injury lawyers today.