Frequently Asked Questions

When you are injured or suffer the death of a loved one, insurance companies frequently call. They tell you they want to help you. However, an insurance company is a business, and businesses want to make money. Many nice people work with insurance companies, but their job is to make money for the company. If the insurance company does not pay out money, even though it is fair and right, the insurance company makes money. So if the insurance company says you need to sign papers and give recorded statements, then maybe you should ask if they are really trying to help themselves at your expense.

We suggest you contact our law firm for free advice, and remember the following:

Should I give a recorded statement?

We suggest you contact an attorney to know your rights before giving any statements. Many times, the insurance company has no legal right to insist on a statement, even though they tell you that you must give one. A recorded statement can be held against you, especially if you forget important information. For instance, if the insurance company asks you what hurts, and you mention your broken arm and forget to mention your swollen knee, the insurance company may later try to deny payment for the knee surgery by claiming your knee was never hurt because you failed to mention it. Please call Howell & Thornhill, P.A., to find out if you must give a recorded statement and the important things to remember when giving a recorded statement.

Should I sign a medical authorization?

A medical authorization gives the insurance company the right to call your doctor and harass your doctor about giving you medical treatment. To find out if the insurance company has a right to a medical authorization, give our firm a call to find out your rights.

Should I sign a release?

An insurance company may want you to sign a release of all claims. Is this in your best interest? Are they reimbursing all your losses, or just promising to do it later even though the release does not hold them to that promise in writing? Before signing a release, we suggest you call Howell & Thornhill to find out your rights.
Find Out Your Rights For Free

Rental Cars and Damage to Your Vehicle

Often, the clients of Howell & Thornhill, P.A., have questions about the damage to their vehicle in a motor vehicle crash in Florida. Below are some of the questions we have heard from our clients in the past. For a complete explanation of your rights, please consult a lawyer with Howell & Thornhill, P.A., as each situation is different.

Why does the insurance company refuse to talk to me about my car until they know the cause of the crash?

When the other driver causes the crash, the other driver’s insurance is responsible for the damage to your vehicle. However, they often stall until they have a complete copy of the crash report or until they talk to their insured to verify how the crash happened. They may refuse to deal on the damage to the vehicle because they question whether their driver caused the crash or they merely want to sit on their money to make interest. In either event, our firm tries to obtain a copy of the crash report to speed up the process. One option is to use any available coverage you have with your insurance company to cover the damage to your vehicle. The drawback is you may have a deductible.

Do I have to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company on how the crash happened to have them deal with me on the damage to my vehicle?

Often, insurance companies try to force you into a statement about how the crash happened by stating they will not talk to you about fixing or totaling out the vehicle until they have a statement. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that this is a trick to have you give a statement without knowing your rights that they will later use to justify paying little or nothing for the damage to your vehicle. Our firm suggests you consult a lawyer before giving any statements to determine whether they are actually necessary and helpful.

Does the other driver’s insurance have a responsibility to pay for a rental vehicle?

Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that the insurance for the driver that caused the crash has a duty to pay for a rental vehicle until they pay for the totaling out of your vehicle or until the repairs are complete. Insurance companies often refuse initially to pay for rental vehicles in the hopes they can avoid this expense.

If I do not actually rent a vehicle, does the other driver’s insurance have a responsibility to pay anything?

Yes. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., believes that the insurance company for the driver that caused the crash has a duty to pay for loss of use. So, if you lose the ability to use your vehicle for two weeks following the crash until the repairs are complete, the other driver’s insurance company should pay an amount for each day of the two weeks.

Can the insurance company for the driver who caused the crash simply offer me book value if my vehicle cannot be repaired even though my vehicle was worth more?

The insurance company for the driver who caused the crash would like to pay the smallest amount possible for your vehicle if it is going to be totaled out. Insurance companies make money by paying out a small amount of money. If you call back the insurance company and say, “That amount is not fair”, they are unlikely to offer more. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., suggests that you call three car dealers and ask how much will you charge me cash for a vehicle like mine, ___ year, ____ make, ____ model, ______ miles and with the special equipment of ___________. We then suggest you write down the name and number of those car dealers as well as the amount they quote. With this information, you can approach the insurance company and state that similar vehicles cost more than you offered me, here is the information from the three dealers I contacted, and if you believe that is a fair price to replace my vehicle, then find me a similar vehicle in my area at your price. Another way to check the offer you received on the vehicle is to check the following web sites:

Can the insurance company for the other driver only pay the value of the vehicle when the amount I owe on a loan is much higher?

Unfortunately, Florida law only requires that the insurance company reimburse the value of the vehicle. Often, the amount of the loan is much higher than the value of the vehicle. If you do not have GAP insurance to cover the difference between the loan amount and the value of the car, then Florida law makes you responsible for this amount. Howell & Thornhill, P.A., feels that this law unfairly punishes people who cannot afford to pay cash for a vehicle. In the past, we have suggested to client’s to negotiate with the loan company to eliminate the unpaid amount or try to roll that unpaid amount into a new vehicle purchase. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this situation under Florida law.

Please call Howell & Thornhill, P.A. for a full explanation of your rights as the above questions and answers may not exactly fit your situation.

Board Certifications

At Howell & Thornhill, we are proud to announce that we have a team of Trial Lawyers who are Certified as Experts in Civil Trial Law by the Florida Bar.

Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of competency and experience within an area of law, and professionalism and ethics in practice. Less than 2% of all Florida Lawyers are Certified in Civil Trial Law.

Howell & Thornhill is Polk County’s Oldest Personal Injury Law Firm. Howell & Thornhill has a team of trial lawyers, a certified legal investigator, registered nurse, paralegals, accident investigation experts, and legal assistants to help with your claim. Our team fully investigates your case to ensure that your claim is aggressively presented to the insurance company.

Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage –
What is it?

Questions About Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage applies if someone causes a crash and injures you but have no insurance or very little insurance. The easiest way to explain it is to list the types of coverage in Florida:

Bodily Injury liability coverage – it pays money if you cause a crash and hurt someone else. Unbelievably, this is not required of most vehicle owners in Florida.

Property damage coverage – it pays money if you cause a crash and damage property. It does not cover injuries to anyone.

Personal injury protection – it pays $10,000.00 for your medical bills and your wage loss regardless of who causes the crash. It is like a small health insurance policy. If you did not cause the crash, your rates will not increase unless you have had three crashes in a five year period. The benefits may be limited to $2,500.00 unless you have an emergency medical condition. If you fail to see a medical doctor or other similar health provider within the 14 days following the crash, you lose this coverage.

So what does uninsured motorist cover? If the owner and driver of the vehicle that causes the crash does not have bodily injury liability coverage, then uninsured motorist coverage pays for your medical bills, wage loss, and money for your suffering. This coverage protects you and using it does not raise your rates when you do not cause the crash unless you have been involved in three crashes in a five year period.

How is under-insured motorist coverage different? If the owner and driver of the vehicle that causes the crash does not have enough bodily injury liability coverage for your medical bills, wage loss, and suffering, then under-insured motorist coverage pays. This coverage protects you and using it does not raise your rates when you do not cause the crash unless you have been involved in three crashes in a five year period.

Why is uninsured motorist coverage important? Well, few drivers have bodily injury coverage and $10,000.00 is often less than the emergency room bill. Florida law does not require most people to have bodily injury liability coverage for injuries they cause.

Sadly, many drivers in Florida do not purchase bodily injury liability coverage. This leaves you with personal injury protection of $10,000.00. One trip to the emergency room can cost $15,000.00. This leaves many people without money to pay the entire hospital bill, future doctor appointments, and wage loss. So, if you miss six months from work after an ankle surgery, how will you live? Who will pay for the $40,000.00 in surgery bills? Health insurance often delays paying on bills because they were caused by a vehicle crash.

Uninsured motorist coverage would help, and it is important.

Do you need a lawyer?

Insurance companies are a business. In our opinion, their job is to make money for themselves. You need to ask if you have a claim, is the insurance company going to pay for my losses as they promise in the commercials?

Or, is the company going to avoid my calls, give excuses on what they will pay, and suggest I do not need a lawyer until it is too late to protect myself? A call to Howell & Thornhill, P.A., is free.

Please call to hear all of your rights. 800-846-7644.
Jesse Leon McDaniel reviewed Howell & Thornhill P.A. — 5 star
March 13, 2018

I want to say a special thank you to Tommy Ray for the help with a homeless vet. The donation of the tv meant so much to this vet he could not believe that someone he never met would help. This vet is a Vietnam Veteran and had nothing. This is the kind of people that work at Howell and Thornhill thank you. We now have this vet with shelter .
Breezy Luviano recommends Howell & Thornhill P.A.
December 17, 2018

My experience with Howell & Thornhill was beyond our expectations, Spencer and Roselia were always there when we had questions and kept us informed of anything new with the case.We can’t thank both of them enough for the services they provided. There’s honestly no better place to go.
Fred McClure Jr reviewed Howell & Thornhill P.A. — 5 star
June 8, 2018

What a great experience we had with this firm. Spencer and his team went above and beyond my expectations. Check them out if you need some legal help. Trust me when I say that these insurance company’s are get hard to deal with. You are definitely gonna need to bring your “A” game. So bring Howell and Thornhill P.A.
If you are injured by a careless driver do not even consider going it alone. PIP rules and insurance companies are  NOT USER FRIENDLY! Spencer Pastorin and Howell & Thornhill rescued me from the sticky web that no-fault has become. Recovering from a bicycle vs truck crash is certainly not easy but good personal injury lawyers can prevent a whole lot of frustration and help you get the compensation you deserve.

- Mike Mosall