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: 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: 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.

Brandon Stein Law: A Client You Can’t Trust is a Client You Can’t Afford

By: Brandon Stein

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident or trip and fall, contact our North Miami lawyers today.

For North Miami Beach injury lawyers that sue for slip and falls and car accidents, an unfaithful client can diminish the value of the case exponentially.  A client that you cannot trust is a client that you cannot afford to represent.  And clients that lie and fail to disclose pre-existing personal injuries to their Florida lawyers do irreparable damage to their trip and fall or car accident cases.

Sadly, certain clients place Aventura car accident lawyers in bad positions by not disclosing prior injuries.  For example, if a person slips and falls and suffers injury to her back and retains a South Florida lawyer, the expectation is that given the attorney-client relationship, every single detail will be disclosed.  This is often times not the case since some, but not all, injured clients try to “work the system” and only convey information to their Florida lawyer that will help their case. The reason lawyers are hired is because clients have no experience in slip and fall or car accident cases — thus they too have no experience deciphering important information from non-important information.

As a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer, based upon the hundreds of slip and fall and car accident cases that I have handled, the most common piece of information held back by a client is the fact that he or she has suffered injury to the same part of the body in the past.  Unless the case gets settled very quickly, this withheld information will come out sooner or later.  And the later this information is discovered by the other side, the worse it is for the case.  On the flip-side, when this information is revealed to the defendant, their case improves significantly.

Simply put, imagine a defense attorney revealing this information to a jury of your peers. Once that information is placed in the hands of a jury, the jurors go from being your peers to being an ally for the defendant.

Brandon Stein Law: The First Thing to do When Injured in a Car Accident or Slip and Fall

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 lawyers today.

Being a North Miami personal injury lawyer that helps those injured from car accidents and slip and falls, I am constantly asked by clients: what is the first step in my case?  While some South Florida personal injury lawyers proceed and advise clients based upon what is best for the case, that is not my philosophy.  Without fail, every single client hears the same line from me at the beginning of their case. Ultimately, the most important thing with their personal injury lawsuit is that they receive medical treatment and feel better.  Everything else will fall into place after that.

In North Miami Beach, whether the injury was caused by a car accident or slip and fall, the first thing needed to be done even before going to see a lawyer is to treat with a doctor or hospital.  The biggest pitfall in a case is a gap in treatment.  Here in South Florida, I have litigated cases that are slam-dunks with respect to liability, but once damages are addressed, a significant length of time without treatment for the injury can be crippling for a slip and fall or car accident case.

Basically, a Florida car accident lawyer or slip and fall lawyer has two main jobs when representing an injured client: (1) Stay on top of the client and constantly keep the lines of communication open to ensure that the injuries claimed from the accident are being treated; and (2) Litigate the case as quickly and efficiently as possible so to keep the client happy and eventually achieve a successful outcome.

Nevertheless, when litigating a case, a Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer can always make up for lost time.  However, as far as client treatment is concerned, every single day that goes by that the client does not see a doctor is ammunition for the lawyer of the defendant to challenge the validity of the personal injury claim.