A personal injury occurs when someone causes you physical or emotional harm. An example is when you trip or slip and fall in a business when they negligently left something on the floor without any warning signs. You must be able to show that you have been injured by someone else either negligently or intentionally. If you contributed to the injury, you may need to show that the other party was more at fault than you are, but it does not necessarily mean that you may not make a claim at all.
You should not speak with an insurance investigator prior to speaking to an attorney. They are not working for your best interest and anything you say may be used against you later. If you accept any payment from an insurance company, you may waive your right to make a claim later. Therefore, you should speak to an attorney prior to signing any documents from an insurance investigator.
|If another person has caused you physical or emotional harm, contact an attorney to discuss any remedies you may have available as a result of your injuries.
When should I hire an attorney?
As soon as possible. We offer free consultations. Insurance companies immediately begin their investigation for their own interests. We work for you. Time can be crucial to protecting your claim: the injury site is likely unchanged and witnesses' memories are the freshest. Also, the choice of the appropriate doctor can be vital to the health of your body and your case.
Should I speak with my insurance company?
DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT, which is usually recorded and can be used against you later. You should call an attorney right away. If you are contacted before hiring an attorney, politely tell the insurance representative that you will call back at a more convenient time. The insurance company employees will seem sympathetic and try to be helpful. However, they often discourage you from contacting an attorney. They try to tell you it will cost more to hire an attorney so why not just settle with them then. Do not be misled: these are trained professionals whose ONLY job is to avoid paying you the money you may deserve.
How much will attorney's fees cost me?
You pay nothing unless we recover for you. Our fee is based on a percentage of the money we are able to recover for you. This allows you to hire an attorney to fight the insurance company. The percentage charged depends on when the recovery is made, it will generally be from 33 1/3 % to 40%.
The actual costs to prosecute your claim vary depending on the time required to resolve it. Costs increase in litigation. Jury trial costs are much greater than litigation costs. Accordingly, we will always try to reach a pre-suit resolution to your claim whenever possible.
How do I choose a Doctor?
In auto accident cases, your P.I.P. insurance company has NO right to choose your doctor. You can go to any doctor you want. In other kinds of injuries, you may have to choose a doctor who is on your list of preferred providers or primary care physicians depending on the type of health insurance you have
Will the other person's insurance company pay my medical bills?
Not until your case is finished. We do, however, take into consideration anything you pay "out of pocket" when we negotiate your settlement.
Will the other person's insurance company pay my lost wages?
Not until your case is finished. Your lost wages and lost earning ability are also taken into consideration when we negotiate your settlement.
Will the other person's insurance company pay me an "advance" for my injuries and then reach a final settlement later?
No. They will only pay when your case is finished and a settlement is reached.
What if I continue to have pain in the future?
Once a settlement is reached, it is final and you will be required to sign a full "Release" of all claims. This is also true if a jury awards you money.
How much income tax do I have to pay from my Personal Injury settlement or jury award?
None. Personal Injury settlements and jury awards are almost always tax-free.
How long will my Personal Injury case last, from beginning to end?
All cases vary on how long they take to reach a conclusion. It depends on your injuries and the medical treatment it takes for you to reach Maximum Medical Improvement. Cases take between 6-18 months on average. We will attempt to settle your case before filing suit. Settlement negotiations usually start between 4-6 months of regularly-scheduled medical treatment, which will end when the doctor releases. If we are unable to reach a settlement in pre-suit, we will move forward into litigation. Trials are usually 12-15 months after suit is filed.
If a lawsuit is filed, does this mean I am going to trial?
No. A large percentage of lawsuits are settled before trial begins.
Can you "advance" me money on my case?
No, the Florida Bar strictly prohibits your attorney from loaning you money for any reason.
Can I get a loan?
There are certain companies that will offer to advance you YOUR own money until the claim is settled. We strongly discourage you from entering into this type of agreement. As these companies are trying to lend you YOUR money, they have the legal opportunity to charge interest rates approaching 100%! They calculate how much you will recovery and will lend a certain amount of money based on that. This amount with interest may take up your entire net portion of your settlement, leaving you with nothing at the end of your case.
What if I'm hurt on the job? Can I sue for "pain and suffering"?
If you are injured on the job due to yours or someone else's fault, including that of your employer or co-worker's, you have to file a Worker's Compensation claim...and you cannot be compensated for "pain and suffering"-type damages. However, if you are injured on the job due to the fault of a Third Party (such as another automobile driver unconnected to your Employer), then we can file a Third Party claim and seek the full slate of damages, including "pain and suffering."
The value of a case differs from case to case and client to client. Please review our page "What is my case worth?"
What is contributory negligence or comparative negligence?
This means what actions by you caused or contributed to your own injury. The extent of these actions is usually noted as a percentage of 100%. For instance, if you were rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident (normally a presumption of negligence against the other party); however, you neglected to wear your seatbelt, you could be assigned a percentage of the overall fault. Therefore, any recovery a jury could potentially award would be multiplied by this percentage, thereby reducing your recovery to the extent you contributed to your injuries.
I have pre-existing injuries. How will they affect my case?
If the injuries sustained in your accident are similar to a previous injury from an unrelated incident, you should not expect to receive compensation for the full value of such injuries. You may expect to receive compensation for the extent to which those injuries were aggravated. However, pre-existing injuries allow the insurance company an opportunity to deny your claim and force you into litigation.
Do I have to pay my health insurance company back for the payments they make of my behalf?
If your health insurance carrier has a "right of subrogation" clause in your policy, then you will have to pay back a portion of the payments they make on your behalf, if you receive compensation for your injuries. We do work with your insurance company to determine how much you have to pay back.
Personal injury claims can take a long time to reach a resolution and the outcomes vary by the specific facts of each case. We recommend that you do not depend upon a recovery for your economic well-being.