Florida Legilative Notes on Auto-Accident Related Bills

To keep up to date on all the Legislative Notes go to Florida Justice Association.  Here is a brief summary of Auto-Accident Bills that were filed but failed to pass:

* Automobile Financial Responsibility SD 1634: "This bill would have expanded the class of drivers that must maintain minimum FR to include anyone convicted of a felony while using a motor vehicle or under mandatory license suspension."

* Family Exclusions SB 1254:  "This bill would have prohibited motor vehicle insurance auot policies from containing a family exclusion for wrongful death damages."

* Motor Vehicle Short-term Rental or Lease Insurance: SB2622: "This bill would have required lessees under certain motor vehicle rental or lease agreements to obtain certain liability insurance.  It specified minimum insurance requirements for motor vehicles rented or leased  for less than a single year, prohibited a lessor from leasing to a lessee without having such insurance, and authorized certain lessors to offer and sell certain insurance.

This next one is my personal favorite not only because my friend, Rep. Richard Kriseman sponsored it, but because it makes so much sense.  I was saddened to hear it didn't pass.

* Personal Injury Claims "Cooling Off Period" SF 2646:  This bill would have prohibited resolution or settlement of certain personal injury claims for certain benefits within a certain time after the date of an injury.  It provided an exception when an insurer tenders policy limits to the injured party, permitted insurance carriers to advance or pay a portion of coverage under certain circumstances and provided for a credit against final settlement or jury verdict amounts for payments made."  

This would have prevented insurance claims adjusters trying to make a quick settlement with auto accident victims for less than the policy limits.  My husband/partner, Charlie Scott, was once a claims adjuster with a major carrier.  He remembers that as a claims adjuster he was taught to go out and contact accident victims as quickly as possible, before they get an attorney, so that the insurance carrier could pay the victim signifcantly less than the claim was worth.  Needlesstosay, Charlie did not enjoy his short time as an adjuster.  But his recollection of the insurance carrier's desire to "pull one over" on the accident victim is just what this bill would have prevented.  It is important that after an accident, the victim allows time to pass in order to get their injuries fully diagnosed before thinking about settlement for less than policy limits.  In this tough economy, I fear that more and more accident victims will be tempted by the insurance carriers to settle their claims prematurely.  

Here's my advice:  If you've been in an auto accident, do not enter into any settlement agreements or sign any releases with the insurance carrier until you have spoken with an attorney who focuses their practice on personal injury claims.  In other words, I don't recommend consulting with the attorney who did your will (probate attorney) or the attorney who did your divorce or any other type of attorney for this matter, you will be best served by a personal injury attorney who focuses their practice on auto accidents.  If you don't know a personal injury attorney, I recommend asking your close friends or family or doctor who they know and like; on line I recommend checking www.lawyers.com which is the Martindale Hubbell site or checking with the Florida Justice Association for the name of someone in your area.

Most good personal injury attorneys will sit down with you personally for free to review your claim.  Please do not sign any contracts with lawyers with a "runner" or the secretary or paralegal or anyone who is not an attorney – you need to speak with the attorney.

For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-300-4878. http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com



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