1. How Do I Know if I Need an Attorney?
You should consult with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney if you have been injured and you do not know how the injury is going to affect you. You have a limited period of time under Florida law to file a lawsuit related to an injury, so you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. You should certainly speak to an attorney before signing any papers or making any statements relating to your injuries. Our attorneys can advise you about time limits to file suit and how to best pursue your claim. Also, there are many things an attorney can do for you prior to filing a lawsuit. You should consult with an attorney right after an accident to get assistance in setting up the initial claims process.
2. What Qualifies as a Personal Injury?
A “personal injury” is any physical or mental injury that results from another person’s negligence or wrongful act. Personal injury is part of the civil, as opposed to criminal, legal system. Your claim is against another person or business whom you allege caused your injuries. Personal injuries may result from any number of events, such as:
- Automobile and other vehicular accidents
- Premises injuries, such as a slip and fall
- Dangerous or defective products
- Medical malpractice, such as medication errors or surgical errors
- Construction or on-the-job accidents
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Dog or other animal bites
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Illegal acts such as assault and battery
- Severe injuries, such as traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
3. How Do I Pay for Legal Assistance?
You do not pay anything unless your case results in a court victory or a settlement. Our firm is paid on a “contingency fee,” meaning that we do not get paid unless we recover money for you. We deduct our fee and our expenses from your settlement or award.
4. How Long Will It Take to Get a Fair Settlement Offer?
The length of time varies from case to case. Florida personal injury claims and lawsuits can last anywhere from weeks to years before there is a resolution. We can evaluate your case to determine what steps are required to recover everything you are entitled to receive, and this evaluation plays a part in estimating how long your case will take.
5. Will I Have to Go to Court?
We will make every effort to negotiate with the opposing party’s insurance company for an acceptable settlement. Most personal injury claims settle before they ever see the courthouse. If the insurance company or opposing party refuses to pay an acceptable amount, it will be necessary to file a lawsuit. Most lawsuits settle before trial. Our Florida personal injury lawyers will work with you at every step of this process to see that you are fairly compensated for your injuries and do not have to make any unnecessary trips to court.
6. What Financial Compensation Can I Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
Florida personal injury victims may recover monetary damages for all losses sustained as a result of the other party’s negligence or wrongful act. The type and amount of damages is unique to each case. Damages may include the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages for work missed due to injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Ongoing expenses due to disability caused by the accident
- Emotional trauma
- Mental disability
- Costs of property damage
7. What Are Compensatory Damages?
Compensatory damages, also know as “actual” damages, compensate you for losses incurred because of your injuries. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make you whole, meaning to cover any and all expenses and other losses you have suffered. These may include lost wages, medical bills, and property damage.
8. How Do I Get My Vehicle Fixed?
Before you do anything else, get photographs of the damages to your vehicle. Any camera will do as long as the damage appears clearly. You should get an estimate of the cost of repairs. Your own insurance carrier may issue a check to you for the damage. You should send the photographs, the estimate, and a copy of any insurance payments to our office. We will help you arrange to have an insurance carrier pay for your repairs or, if the car is rendered a total loss, pay you a fair value for the vehicle.
9. What Should I Do About the Medical Bills I’ve Received?
Please keep copies of all bills you receive related to your injuries, such as hospital and doctors’ bills, prescription, and therapy costs. You should also keep all receipts for expenses such as crutches, slings, or wheelchairs. We will arrange to have your auto insurance carrier pay expenses if you have a P.I.P. policy. If you can have bills paid by an insurance carrier for your injuries, you should do so. You may provide us with all of your medical bills and we will submit them to the appropriate insurance payors.
10. Can I Recover Lost Wages for the Time I Missed From Work?
Please keep records of time missed from work. You may claim any time missed from work because of your injuries, including sick leave time, as lost wages. Our office can provide you with a form for your employer to provide information on time missed from work, your rate of pay and salary, your hours typically worked, and any other losses resulting from the accident. This form, along with your doctor’s opinion regarding when or if you may return to work, will help us make a claim for you for lost wages.
11. How Do I Make a Claim for Personal Injuries?
Please contact an attorney before reporting anything to your insurance company. We can advise you on liability concerns, and coverage for medical expenses and property damages. We can help you present your claim and guide you through the difficult insurance process.
12. What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in a Slip & Fall Accident?
Most businesses and homeowners have insurance policies that cover this sort of incident. You should keep copies of all medical bills and receipts for expenses related to your injuries like crutches or slings. You should also contact a personal injury attorney before you speak to the insurance company for the business or homeowner. Our lawyers can advise you of your rights and prepare you for how to gather information and present your case.
13. What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured in an Automobile Accident?
First, you should get the name and address of everyone involved in the accident, as well as any insurance information and license plate numbers for all the vehicles. If possible, get names and phone numbers of witnesses to the accident. If there are any injuries, you should contact the police, who will investigate the scene of the accident and write a report detailing the accident and describing any damages and injuries. Insurance companies often require a copy of a police report before issuing any benefits. You should also immediately contact your own auto insurance carrier to report any property damage or personal injuries.
If anyone is injured in the accident, you should of course promptly seek medical attention. Keep track of all expenses and keep copies of all bills and receipts. You should speak to an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer before making any statements to an insurance company after the accident.
14. What is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time limit established by law after which you are barred from filing a lawsuit. The statute varies from state to state and is different for different types of claims.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury is from 2 to 4 years beginning on the date of the accident. In the case of injuries that are not immediately apparent, such as exposure to toxic substances, the statute may begin on the date that you learned, or reasonably should have learned, of the injury.
In any case, you should not hesitate to contact a Florida personal injury attorney to begin the process of assessing your case. The process of evaluating a case takes time and should begin long before the statute of limitations period expires.
15. What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing homes have a special relationship to their residents, who depend on the nursing home and its staff for their daily care, which may include everything from food and shelter to bathing and grooming. Florida has established laws protecting the elderly (over 65) and dependent adult residents of nursing homes and giving them remedies in cases of abuse or neglect by nursing home staff. Nursing homes may suffer from budget problems and understaffing, which can lead to neglect of residents. Outright abuse also occurs. Neglect often becomes clear from the following types of evidence:
- Bed sores (pressure sores, decubitus ulcers)
- Rapid weight loss
- Unexplained bruises
- Emotional withdrawal
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Heavy sedation
- Inability of caretakers to explain patient’s condition
A victim of neglect, or the victim’s family, has the right to bring a legal claim whether the neglect was an isolated incident or an ongoing pattern. Nursing homes stand to lose their certification, in addition to liability for damages, if they are found to have committed neglect. Loss of certification can lead to loss of federal funding.
16. What is Wrongful Death?
“Wrongful death” refers to a death cause by the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, neglect, omission, or default of another. This could include incidents of negligence like a car accident or deliberate incidents like murder. Damages for wrongful death include support that the deceased would have provided to family members and other dependents. Unlike murder and other criminal offense, wrongful death is a civil claim. This means that a plaintiff claiming wrongful death has a lower burden of proof in court than in a criminal case, and the goal of a wrongful death suit is monetary damages instead of prison.
17. Under What Circumstances Can a Wrongful Death Occur?
“Wrongful death” is a death caused by the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, neglect, omission, or default of another. This could include incidents of negligence such as:
- Car accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical errors
- Defective products
- Toxic exposure
Wrongful death also includes deliberate incidents like:
- Other criminal acts
- Elder abuse or neglect
18. What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is the negligent failure to adhere to the legally established standard of care for a medical professional like a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, or hospital worker. Because of their high levels of training and the degree of care over patients given to them, medical professionals must meet a high standard for patient care. They are liable for damages caused by a failure to meet those high standards. Medial malpractice may include misdiagnoses of illnesses, errors in prescribing medication, errors in administering medication, or errors made during surgery.
19. What is Pharmacy Error?
Pharmacists owe a duty of care to any person whose prescription he or she fills. Pharmacy error occurs when a pharmacist breaches that duty of care, resulting in harm to the patient. A breach of duty can include:
- Misreading the prescribing provider’s handwriting
- Giving a patient medicine based on another patient’s prescription
- Giving a patient the wrong dosage of medicine
- Confusing drugs that have similar names or look alike
- Giving a patient the incorrect instructions for taking medicine
An injured patient can recover damages for medical expenses, loss of wages, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. If the patient died as a result of the pharmacy error, the family of the patient can pursue a wrongful death action against the pharmacy.