Interviewer: What makes a car accident case good versus a case that the insurance company is going to defend?
Guy S. DiMartino: I look at car accident cases as a three-legged stool. In order for the stool to be sturdy, all the legs have to bear the weight evenly. The first leg of the stool is the facts of the accident. We have to ask if the facts clearly show that the other driver caused the accident. This is called a liability determination. If you're sitting at a red light somebody crashes into you because they were texting liability is pretty clear. However, if both drivers are in an intersection collision and both drivers claim to have had a green light fault for the accident is in dispute.
In a Disputed Liability Case An Insurance Company May Accept Partial Responsibility or No Responsibility at All
As a lawyer, I can't really negotiate a case with an insurance carrier there is some liability determination made. Is the insurance company going to accept full responsibility for their insured? Or is the insurance company only going to accept 50 per cent responsibility for their insured? So, in the middle of the intersection type of collision, if you don't have any physical evidence showing the timing of the light or a witness, the insurance company may place 50% responsibility on each driver. In these cases, the full value of your claim may be $100,000 but the insurance company may reduce that amount to $50,000 because of the fault determination.
Interviewer: Is Florida a No Fault state but liability can be shared? What do you call it?
Guy S. DiMartino: Yes. Florida is a no-fault state. However, no-fault only goes to medical payments or personal injury protection benefits. In Florida, medical expenses are submitted to the driver's own insurance company under no-fault, until the PIP benefit is exhausted.
The concept of fault goes to the car accident claim against the other driver's insurance company. Florida is a pure comparative fault state, which means any award of damages in a car accident case will be decreased by the percentage of fault, if any, assigned to the injured person.
Interviewer: Is it important for the clients not to withhold any information from you?
Guy S. DiMartino: Absolutely. A client is required to tell me everything. I am not here to place judgment; I'm on their side and it's my job to protect them. I'm here to walk you through the minefield of making a personal injury claim. If a client doesn't tell me everything, I can't protect them because I don't know the issue. I would rather know all potential issues today because I can deal with them. I do not want to learn about these issues when my client is on the witness stand in the middle of trial where I can't help.