My last blog post dealt with whether you could hold a rental car company responsible for accidents caused by drivers of rental cars in Florida. This blog post deals with the insurance you need to protect yourself if you rent a car.

As discussed in my last blog post, rental car companies used to be responsible for injuries caused by the negligence of the drivers of their vehicles. Thus, if you rented a car and you were negligent and injured someone, the injury victim could pursue a claim against the rental car company-a known “deep pocket.” That is no longer the case. Nowadays, the rental car company is usually off the hook for injuries caused by drivers of their vehicles. Due to this, it is more important than ever to make sure you are properly covered if you rent a vehicle.

If you own a car, your personal policy will generally cover you when you rent a car in the United States or Canada. If you have good coverage, which includes healthy limits for bodily injury liability and property damage liability, then you probably don’t need the additional coverage offered by the rental car companies. Your bodily injury liability coverage will protect you if you are at fault and you injure someone else. Your property damage liability coverage will protect you if you are at fault and you damage another vehicle. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, that will usually cover any damage you cause to the rental vehicle itself. In the event you have a deductible, if you charge the rental to a credit card that covers rental cars (many do), then the credit card company will usually cover your deductible.

When is it wise to purchase the insurance offered by a rental car company? Continue reading

Although it is now the “off-season” in Florida, we are a Mecca for tourists who often rent cars. Unfamiliarity with the vehicle and the local roads sometimes results in these tourists causing accidents. Unfortunately, if this occurs, recovery from the rental car company may be limited or nonexistent.

Generally speaking, when the owner of a motor vehicle allows someone else to use their vehicle, the owner is responsible for the negligence of the driver of the vehicle. This principle is called “vicarious liability.” The idea behind this legal theory is that a motor vehicle can be extremely dangerous if operated by someone who is an irresponsible driver, and by holding the owner responsible hopefully the owner will use good judgment in deciding who to allow to use their vehicle. When I first started practicing law over 30 years ago, this principle applied to rental car companies and rental car companies could be held responsible for the negligence of the driver of one of its vehicles.

This all changed, however, in 2005 when a law known as the “Graves Amendment” was passed by Congress. In a nutshell, this law did away with vicarious liability for rental cars. Lawyers representing injury victims in Florida raised challenges to the new law, claiming that it conflicted with existing Florida law. When the dust finally settled, after about eight years of litigation, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that rental car companies were entitled to the benefit of the Graves Amendment. Thus, anyone injured in Florida by a negligent driver of a rental car can no longer effectively pursue the claim against the rental car company and is often left with a claim against an uninsured or underinsured driver. Rental car companies will usually provide some minimal level of coverage, usually $10,000, which is often all that can be recovered unless the driver has a personal policy with additional coverage, or the driver has significant assets which makes the case worthwhile to pursue against the driver. The Graves Amendment is another reason why you should have adequate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage under your own automobile vehicle policy. This coverage allows you to pursue a claim under your own policy for your injuries if the coverage available from the rental car company or the driver of the rental car is insufficient to fully satisfy your claim.

Although it is now the “off-season” in Florida, we are a Mecca for tourists who often rent cars. Unfamiliarity with the vehicle and the local roads sometimes results in these tourists causing accidents. Unfortunately, if this occurs, recovery from the rental car company may be limited or nonexistent. Continue reading

Most standard homeowner’s policies provide coverage for damage to personal property. Personal property includes such things as clothing, furniture, artwork, jewelry, furs, firearms and electronic devices. However, this coverage is limited in scope and amount. Most policies limit the scope of coverage to losses caused by certain events. For example, coverage is usually extended for loss caused by fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, explosion, vandalism and accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler system or from within a household appliance. Most policies also limit the amount of coverage available for certain losses. For example, dollar limits ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars exists for damage or for loss to money, securities, jewelry, artwork, firearms, electronic devices and business property. Higher limits usually exist for damage to clothing, furniture and appliances.

A “personal articles floater” provides additional coverage for personal property, over the standard coverage provided most homeowner’s insurance policies. Continue reading

 

 

Back in November I wrote a blog post called “Insurance coverage for dog bites?” It discussed dog bite claims and the difficulty in getting the homeowner’s insurer for a dog owner to pay the claim. This difficulty arises from the fact that a number of years ago most homeowner’s insurers added exclusions to their policies that bar coverage for “animal liability,” including dog bites.

The focus of this blog post is to provide advice and guidance to dog owners on how to protect themselves from injury claims brought as a result of bad behavior by their dog. This includes not only dog bites, but any type of injury caused by a dog. Continue reading

Mold exists everywhere in Florida. Our state is a veritable paradise for mold, with its high levels of humidity, abundant food sources and temperate climate. Many homeowners become quite concerned when mold is found in their home. Fortunately, mold is usually harmless. However, it can be a problem for certain individuals who are sensitive to mold, especially when there are elevated levels of certain strains of mold.

When mold is found, it can be expensive to get rid of. The process of getting rid of the mold is called “remediation.” It is important to use a certified mold remediation contractor to eliminate the mold, as certain procedures and protocols must be followed in order to prevent the spread of the mold. Treating the mold with bleach, painting over the mold or cutting out walls, if not done properly, can actually make the mold problem worse. Continue reading

You were attacked and bitten by a dog, either while at someone’s home or off the dog owner’s property. Your injuries are serious and the dog owner tells you not to worry because their homeowner’s insurance will cover claim. Can you rest easy? Are all your bills and lost wages going to be taken care of? What about all your pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life? Are you going to be compensated for this?

The answers to these questions depend on a number of different factors. Continue reading

Every car registered in Florida must carry No-Fault insurance. This coverage is also known as PIP, or personal injury protection coverage. No-fault pays 80% of your reasonable medical expenses and it also pays 60% of your lost wages if you are unable to work due to injuries suffered in the accident. The maximum amount payable, for both medical bills and lost wages, is $10,000. Continue reading

No one likes to spend money on insurance. It is something that you pay for, but unlike a new shirt or a delicious meal, you never really see it or even enjoy it, for that matter. There is no instant gratification when you write a check each month for your insurance premium. As a result, I believe many people buy insurance only when they are required to do so. For example, in Florida, you have to have insurance on your car in order to renew your vehicle tags each year. And now, with “Obamacare,” you have to have health insurance or suffer a penalty. Continue reading

Can you sue for pain and suffering in an accident or medical malpractice case in Florida? The short answer is yes. However, there are other factors that go into pain and suffering claims and the potential for monetary awards. These are things you need to take into consideration if you are thinking about bringing a pain and suffering lawsuit.

First of all, you need to understand what pain and suffering means in Florida. It is a type of monetary damage you can receive if you are in physical pain or emotional pain or both after being injured. Pain and suffering damages are separate from compensatory damages for medical bills incurred in your injury. This means that in some personal injury cases, you may be able to get two separate awards…one for your medical bills and lost wages, and one for pain and suffering. Sometimes, if your pain is considerable and ongoing or chronic and you have to take medication for it on a regular basis, your pain and suffering award may be more than your medical bills and lost wages award. The law in Florida recognizes how terrible it is to be in pain.

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