I got a call yesterday from a client who was in a car accident with injuries. His car had some property damages, and he did not want to have his own insurance pay for it because he has a $500 deductible. So I suggested that he have the at fault driver’s insurance pay instead. Even though at fault driver had no Personal Injury liability insurance, he did have the mandatory minimum insurance. That means he had $10,000 in property damage insurance coverage, way more than necessary to fix my client’s car.
When my client got a check in the mail he called me to ask if he could cash the check. It said it was for payment of the PD claim. He was worried that by cashing the PD check it might jeopardize his PI (personal injury) claim. He will also get a free rental car while his is in the shop, and if they find more expensive damages while repairing his car they will pay for the extra damages too. I told him he could go ahead and cash the check.
Florida law allows a person to settle his PD claim without jeopardizing the PI claim. Sometimes there might be a RELEASE. If so, it should be reviewed by your lawyer to make sure it does not RELEASE both the PD and the PI claim.
Florida law does not allow separate suits for a PD claim and then later on another suit for the PI claim. They have to be brought at the same time, or it will result in a dismissal of the PI claim. When the claims are filed at different times that leads to a defense of splitting a cause of action and will result in the loss of the PI claim.
So, before you think about suing in small claims court to get your PD paid, you could be giving up a much more valuable PI claim.