Articles Posted in Insurance

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Car_crash_2In March of 2017, a Lyft driver in Miami was killed in a Little Havana accident. The other driver was charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) for being high on crystal meth and cocaine. There were four passengers in the Lyft driver’s vehicle who were taken to the hospital. The family and survivors of the deceased driver and the passengers would benefit from the advice of a Lyft car accident attorney in Miami. These victims all face a potentially complex situation of insurance coverage.

Nicholas Castelao was ultimately charged with DUI manslaughter for driving while high on crystal meth. The Lyft driver he killed was Robert Torra. The accident happened in the residential area at the intersection of SW 25th Avenue and SW 17th Street. Castelao told a nurse at Jackson Memorial that he was high on meth. In addition, the investigating officers found a drug pipe near the vehicle after the accident. At the hospital, a nurse’s aide found 3 bags of drugs in the pockets of Castelao.

It is so sad that the selfish decision to drive while under the influence tragically impacted the Lyft driver and his four passengers. Not only were those folks affected, their families and friends also felt the impact. The unintended consequences of a tragic car accident extend far and wide.

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Until now, Uber, Lyft and the transportation network companies (TNC) have dealt with local governments on a county by county basis. However, in January 2017 proposed legislation was filed in the Florida Legislature which is widely viewed as favorable to the TNC companies like Uber and Lyft. This is potentially good news for Florida consumers as well as Uber car accident lawyers and Lyft injury attorneys.

Uber, as the market leader in Florida, has taken the lead in the battles against local governments. Lyft typically waited for the dust to settle and fell in line with the results obtained by Uber. These battles were on display in South Florida over the past few years with Broward County taking the lead in fighting against Uber.

Broward County banned Uber and Lyft for more than 4 months after negotiations broke down with Uber. Unfortunately for Broward County commissioners, the public outcry and backlash was overwhelming. In the end, Broward County essentially complied and gave in to the terms that Uber demanded. Not long after a deal was reached between Uber and Broward County both Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County fell in line.

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boyMotorcycle accident lawyers in Miami come across this issue all the time. What kind of insurance should I get for my motorcycle? If you own a motorcycle, the most important insurance coverage you should have is uninsured motorist coverage.

If there is a motorcycle in your life – you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, even your grandparents – then you probably understand there is a risk. Especially in Miami. If you or a loved one is in a motorcycle accident, then two things are likely to happen. The injuries will most likely be significant or even fatal. Second, there is a very good chance the other driver will have little or no insurance. Those are just facts of life. Especially in Miami.

Motorcycle accident injuries can be severe. The simple fact is as a motorcyclist, you don’t have the protections that vehicle drivers have. You are directly exposed to the impact and the elements. In some unfortunate and heartbreaking cases, the motorcyclist is killed and a wrongful death case is brought on behalf of the survivors. In almost every motorcycle accident case, the medical expenses are astronomical in addition to the lost wages, loss of future earning capacity as well as pain and suffering.

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Miami police arrested an Uber driver in Coconut Grove for selling narcotics based on a tip. The law enforcement officers were engaged in an anti-gun violence operation. They received a tip and arrested the Uber driver at a convenience store on Grand Avenue. The driver was also in possession of a gun.

One question Miami personal injury lawyers face is whether Uber drivers and riders are legally allowed to carry a handgun when using the Uber app. The official Uber policy states: “Uber Firearms Prohibition Policy – Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and reliable ride. That’s why Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms of any kind in a vehicle while using our app. Anyone who violates this policy may lose access to Uber.”

Since Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing transportation networks are privately held companies, they can uphold their Firearms Prohibition Policies. But in reality such prohibitions are unenforced until after something tragic or horrific happens.

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Lynne McChristian of the Insurance Information Institute recently told the Miami Herald that auto insurance rates are rising because of the drop in the unemployment rate as the main reason. “It’s an unintended consequence of low unemployment,” she said. “You have more people with jobs to go to.” That’s a new one for Miami car accident lawyers and their personal injury clients.

Four years ago, the Florida Legislature allegedly reformed the PIP (Personal Injury Protection) laws. As part of the reform deal, our insurance rates were supposed to drop. Car insurance rates dropped after the 2012 changes by 0.2% in 2013-2014. But in 2015-2015 those rates increased by 13.8% according to the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation.

Since January 2015, the insurance companies have raised automobile insurance rates an average of 15%. In fact Allstate has increased its PIP rates by 40 %.

Ms. Christian claims that average PIP claim in the last quarter of 2015 was $8280 which is close to the average in 2011 of $8,520 before the PIP reforms were instituted. Of course the insurance companies claim fraud is driving the rates higher in spite of the fact that these same insurance companies pushed through the reforms they wanted.

Insurance Company Statistics are Like Bikinis

Aaron Levenstein once said “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” Insurance companies are experts in using statistics to move their agenda

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If you are in a car crash in Miami, an immediate concern is whether the other driver has any insurance at all. If they do, then the question becomes just how much insurance is there. The amount of the policy limits may well determine whether your claim gets settled.

Insurance policy limits are usually offered in single and aggregate limits. There is a single amount that any one person can claim. Then there is a total amount that the insurance company will pay for any one accident no matter how many claims are made. For example, policy limits could be listed as 10/20. This means that the insurance company could pay up to $10,000 for one person’s claim. If the car crash involved five people, then the insurance company would pay no more than $20,000 for any claim made. If all five people were injured, no one would get more than $10,000 and the insurance company would pay no more than $20,000 total for the car crash claims.

In cases where there is a potential of multiple claims and small or low policy limits, an insurance company should hold a “global” settlement conference. All individuals with possible claims should be invited. The conference should be held as quickly as possible. Typically, an insurance company attorney will conduct the meeting and tell everyone that they are there to resolve all or as many claims as possible. The claimants and their personal injury attorneys are then encouraged to reach an agreement as to how to divide the limited amounts of insurance. Insurance representatives usually attend these “global” settlement conferences with a checkbook and releases for the claims that can be settled. Lastly the insured person or persons are also invited to attend but they rarely appear.

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Most people believe that if you go to an emergency room, they cannot refuse to treat you. That is not entirely true. Consider the case of the late Barbara Dawson. She died after being forced to leave an emergency room in handcuffs.

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Barbara Dawson went to Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, Florida. She sought treatment for breathing problems. Dawson was examined and discharged by the physicians. She refused to leave because she was still in pain even though the hospital staff said she was medically stable to leave. Police were called to the emergency room and she was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. Dawson was escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs. She collapsed as she arrived at the officer’s car. Dawson was readmitted to the emergency room. She was pronounced dead about an hour later. The Florida state medical examiner ruled that she died from natural causes due to a blood clot in her lung. Dawson’s family has retained counsel to file suit against the hospital and others who may be responsible for Dawson’s death.

In a case such as this, the attorney will investigate whether negligence or medical malpractice took place and whether it caused Ms. Dawson’s death. The investigation will include a review of her medical history as well as her care and treatment. The policies and procedures of the hospital will also be examined. One question will be whether this was an isolated incident or is it a systemic failure. If the policies and procedures place patients at risk then the danger zone extends well past Ms. Dawson.

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Insurance companies classify injury claims for evaluation and efficiency. One of the main categories are MIST (Minor Impact Soft Injury) or LIST (Low Impact Soft Tissue) claims. Once a claim is designated as a MIST claim, the insurance company will set a value based on other MIST claims and rarely increase the offer unless there is a significant and serious change in the facts of the claim.

M.I.S.T – MINOR INJURY SOFT TISSUE CLAIMS Jonah Wolfson Miami

One of the goals of an insurance company is efficiency. It is how they maximize their profits. Think about how insurance companies encourage or reward you for going online to self-service your policy and premiums. Every time you handle your insurance issues online, you are not costing the company any employee time – and time is money.

By classifying cases insurance companies, reduce your claim to simple numbers. There is no consideration of the shock, pain or emotional toll caused by the accident as it is irrelevant to the insurance company. They can give a young claim representative hundreds of MIST claims with talking points and marching orders to handle all of the claims the same way.

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If you settle your personal injury claim, you will need to sign a release to get the money. A release basically means that you are releasing, or letting go, your claims against the responsible party. In a car accident, that usually means the owner and operator of the other vehicle as well as their insurance company. In a slip and fall injury, it would be the property owner. In a medical malpractice case, the doctor and possibly the hospital would want a release in exchange for a settlement.

Miami Accident lawyer Jonah Wolfson

Releases are covered by basic contract law. There is an offer to settle and, if agreed, an acceptance of that offer. But there must be what is called a “meeting of the minds” which means that the terms of the offer and acceptance must be agreed to by both parties. If the acceptance does not match or “mirror” the offer, then there is no agreement.

In a recent Florida case, the importance of having a “meeting of the minds” was clearly demonstrated. After a car accident, the injured party offered to settle her claim against the other driver for his policy limits with USAA Insurance Company. In addition, she offered to release her claims against the other driver. However, her attorney specifically advised USAA that she would not sign a release containing a hold harmless agreement nor an indemnity agreement. The attorney also warned USAA that any attempt to release anyone other than the other driver would act as a rejection of her good faith offer to settle.

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A chiropractor and his wife were awarded $14.5 million in their lawsuit against GEICO in Miami-Dade County. The jury’s verdict was based on a December 2004 highway collision with an uninsured motorist. Dr. David Zucker and his wife filed their lawsuit in 2006 and finally received their verdict over 9 years later.

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The jury found in favor of Dr. Zucker and awarded him damages for:

  • $767,740.00 in Past Lost Wages: The amount of money he lost as income because of the crash