Florida Personal Injury FAQs
The law is complicated and we know you have questions. We have listed the most common questions asked by our clients below. If you don’t find an answer here, then please feel free to contact us for assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have a case?
How much is my case worth?
How long does the process take?
Can I just deal with the insurance company on my own?
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer in Florida?
What documents should I bring with me when I meet with a lawyer?
The rule is – the more information, the better! The more information you lawyer has, the easier it will be to decide if your case could be a success. Bring any documents that you think might be relevant, such as:
- Police reports / Accident reports
- Any eyewitness accounts obtained by the police or yourself.
- Copies of medical reports from doctors and/or hospitals
- Insurance information, including any other parties involved in an accident
- Relevant photos of injuries and/or damages
- Notes you have written down at the scene of an accident
If you need help obtaining some of these documents, you lawyer can almost always obtain them for you.
What else might my attorney need to know?
It’s important, very important, that your attorney has ALL of the facts. Otherwise, a surprise later could ruin your case. An attorney might need to know…
- Have you been involved in an accident before?
- Do you have any previous injuries?
- Have you been involved in any lawsuits in the past?
- Have you ever been hospitalized?
- Have you ever used alcohol or drugs?
- Do you have a criminal background?
- Have you ever been treated for a physiological disorder?
- Have you ever had a worker’s compensation claim before?
- What statements have you given the police and/or insurance adjustors?
- Have you ever failed to file and/or pay your taxes?
- Have you ever been known to be untruthful?
We could add many more to the list, but you get the idea. Anything…anything at all that has a possibility of hurting your case needs to be discussed with your attorney.
What is the statute of limitations on my case?
What is a deposition?
In cases of product liability, a defendant who has produced many copies of a defective product, such as a faulty tire, may face multiple lawsuits, with the jury in each case awarding punitive damages.
Are There Any Costs Not Covered by My First Coast Personal Injury Lawyer’s Fee?
Every personal injury case involves certain costs that you will be required to pay separate from your personal injury lawyer’s fee. These range from very low (if you just need to make a few copies) to hundreds of dollars (if you need experts to produce reports or if your case involves voluminous files).
Although your First Coast personal injury lawyer may agree to a contingent fee agreement (which means that he will only be paid if your case settles or results in a favorable verdict), you will be responsible for these other costs regardless of your case’s outcome. Your lawyer’s fee reimburses him for his time and helps offset some of the costs of running his business, such as renting office space, buying supplies, and paying secretarial staff, but it would not be economically feasible for attorneys to finance personal injury cases, especially when there is a chance he won’t be paid at all. You will need to discuss with your attorney what out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for paying and whether you will pay them upfront, as the are incurred, or after the conclusion of the case. Some of the more common costs that may be encountered include:
- Fees charged by doctors and hospitals to prepare medical records. Simple copies of existing reports are cheap, but if you need your doctor to write a custom report, it is more expensive.
- Fees charged by other experts who give their opinion. While medical records are needed in almost every case, reports from other experts are necessary only in certain cases. For example, in a car accident case where the cause of the accident is in dispute, you may need an opinion from a professional accident reconstructionist.
- Costs of copies and photographs. The insurance company will need copies of your medical and employment records, and if there are photos you wish to submit, these will need to be printed and possibly enlarged.
- Costs of litigation. If your case does not settle and your First Coast personal injury lawyer needs to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injury, there will be certain court costs you will be responsible for. If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your medical costs and lost wages. For a free evaluation of your case, please call First Coast personal injury lawyer John Fagan at (904) 278-6000.
What factors influence the value of my case?
These factors generally fall under three categories: the expenses your injury incurred, the effect on your quality of life that your injury had, and how clear it is that the insured party is liable for your injuries. The most obvious expenses incurred by your injury are your medical bills. These include bills for treatment from a doctor, therapist, or other healthcare professional, as well as the costs of any medication, prescription or over-the-counter. It also includes miscellaneous costs, such as hospital stays and ambulance fees.
It is also important to note that the insurance companies give some medical expenses greater weight than others: bills from alternative medicine practitioners, for example, are given less weight than bills from licensed doctors.
If your injury kept you from working, the wages you missed out on will also factor into your claim value. If you used sick time or vacation time while you recovered from your injury, you may be able to factor that into your claim as well. Your injuries most likely had a serious impact on your quality of life.
If your injury prevents you performing your normal household routine and renders you incapable of doing the leisure activities you used to enjoy, your settlement value may increase.
Also, any permanent disfigurement or disability resulting from your injury will also increase the value of your case.
Finally, there is the question of liability. If your evidence that the insured is responsible for your injuries is strong, the insurance company is more likely to settle. However, if there is evidence to suggest that our own negligence contributed significantly to your injury, you can expect the insurance company to resist paying your claim.
Ultimately, you will need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to use these factors to your advantage while negotiating with the insurance companies. Call John Fagan today for a free initial consultation.
When Will It Be Necessary to Litigate My Personal Injury Claim?
This usually happens because the insurance company simply does not believe you deserve the money that your personal injury attorney is asking for. The most common reason that this would be the case is that the insurance company suspects that you are at least partially liable for your own accident.
If they have any suspicion that your own negligence contributed to your accident, the insurance company will likely be extremely resistant to settling. Sometimes, the insurance company may suspect you of exaggerating your injuries, especially if you have a soft tissue injury that leaves little verifiable evidence. This, too, will make insurance companies reluctant to settle.
Alternatively, the insurance company may just be stalling for time. Since the insurance company knows that waiting for settlement harms you more than it harms the insurer, it may simply be waiting for you to buckle. In such a case, a lawsuit is probably the only way to proceed with your claim.
Whatever the reason, a personal injury lawsuit will usually name the party responsible for your injury, instead of the insurance company, as the defendant. The only major exceptions to this rule are when the party that caused the claimants injury was underinsured. The insurance company will still be hurt by such a lawsuit, as people do not want insurance from a company that will allow them to be sued.
The procedure for initiating a personal injury lawsuit may vary from case to case. Your Florida personal injury attorney may suggest holding off on filing the lawsuit after announcing it, in hopes that the threat of a lawsuit might force the insurance company to reconsider its offer. However, the attorney must be ready to pull the trigger if the insurance company does not make a reasonable offer.
In these cases, the expertise of the Florida personal injury attorney is vital to getting you the money you deserve. Call experienced Florida persona injury attorney John Fagan today for a free initial consultation.
How do I keep a Personal Injury Journal
If you choose to keep a journal, your Orange Park accident lawyer can advise you on the type of relevant information that should be included, and how these details may strengthen your case.
Case Value Factors to Know
How strong is your personal injury case? An Orange Park injury lawyer wants you to be aware of some legal concepts and factors to help you proceed.
Liability and Negligence
Perhaps your case is a motor vehicle accident case, slip and fall case, disability case, or medical liability case. Regardless of the category, one of the main factors in any case is going to be liability. In other words, was the defendant negligent?
If it is clear and provable that the defendant is at fault, your settlement value goes up. But if negligence is more difficult to prove, the value of your case is significantly reduced. To gauge your likelihood of success, you might view liability in terms of a percentage. For example, if liability is high and it’s crystal clear, your case may have a 90% chance of winning, which is excellent. In the mid-range of 50% to 70%, odds are fair, while less than 50% is poor.
Car Accident Claim Questions
How can I prepare for a possible car accident?
Hopefully you’ll never know how important preparation can be. But just in case, be sure you have these items in your glove box in the event you do find yourself the victim of a car accident.
- Driver’s license
- Proof of insurance
- Vehicle registration
- Cell phone
- Disposable camera
- Basic first aid kit
- Reflectors and/or flares
- Basic tool kit with screwdriver, pliers, etc.
- Jumper cables
- Fix a flat and/or a tire pump
- Important phone numbers such as the police, roadside assistance, etc.
- Note pad and pen
What should I do after a car accident?
Stop your vehicle and pull off to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries. Engage in first aid if appropriate. If someone is seriously injured, don’t try to move him or her. Call 911 ASAP.
It’s important that injuries are tended to quickly and you must have the police available to help you document the accident properly. Get out your notepad and write down the time, date, weather and road conditions, a description of the vehicles involved, the car(s) license plate number, and notate any injuries or damages that you observe. Write down an account of what happened. Don’t worry about how well it is written, just write down what you remember happening as soon as you can. This is important because details can get mixed up later, so do this as soon as reasonably possible.
Take photos with your smart phone or disposable camera. Get pictures of any victims, the cars, the road condition, damage to either vehicle and so on. Make sure you get contact information for any eyewitnesses, officers on the scene and other professionals on the scene. Make sure you ask a copy of the police report. You will need to provide this to your insurance agent.
Contact your insurance company as soon as it is possible to do so to report the accident. If you think the other party is at fault, contact their insurance company as well. But, remember your rights! You are not required to give statements to the other insurance company.
And finally, contact an experienced, effective orange park accident lawyer to be sure that you get the fairest treatment allowed by the law.
The insurance company sent me a check. Should I accept it?
No. Not before talking with your attorney. Accepting a check might be taken as a Not before speaking with an attorney. Accepting a check may be construed you’re your agreement to settle for that amount. It could prevent you from getting any additional amounts that you could be entitled to from the at-fault drive and/or their insurance company.
Didn’t Florida’s no-fault law expire?
Can I still win an accident claim even if the accident was my fault?
I was a passenger in a friend’s car and he caused an accident? Should I sue my friend?
Florida Motorcycle Accident Questions
A car made a left turn in front of me and caused an accident. I was on a motorcycle. Who is at fault?
What insurance should I have to protect my family if I am injured in a motorcycle accident?
If you are in a motorcycle accident and cannot prove that you have $10,000 of medical coverage you could face penalties and even loose your license. It is also recommended to purchase uninsured motorist insurance just to be sure your family is take care of as well. Purchase BI at least in the same amount. Most people would say $100,000 is the least amount of BI or UM anyone should carry.
Does Florida have a helmet law?
How is negligence proven in a motorcycle accident case?
We will need to prove that the person who caused the accident failed in this duty to hold him or her responsible for your damages.
How Do Medical Bills and Lost Wages Affect a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
To avoid this suspicion, select your primary treating doctor yourself instead of having your First Coast motorcycle accident attorney choose your doctor. Also have your treating doctor refer you to a board-certified specialist to confirm your course of treatment and future care. Adjusters will also take into account what your future medical bills are likely to be (insofar as such bills are predictable). Have your attorney get a doctor’s opinion and estimate about what your medical bills will be and send it to the insurance company during settlement negotiations.
Another factor is the amount of wages lost due to time off from work. You must be able to document this, through a written report from your doctor establishing your disability and for how long you were unable to work, and a note from your employer verifying your wages and time taken off (which must match the doctor’s report). Without these, the claims adjuster will likely refuse to include wage loss in your damages, especially if your claimed lost time is greater than expected for comparable injuries.
Similarly, the likelihood of future wage loss due to your injuries will be a factor. You might have future lost wages due to a permanent disability, expected future hospitalizations or surgeries, and time off for other treatments such as physical therapy.
Have your First Coast motorcycle accident attorney obtain a written medical opinion establishing these expected costs to use in settlement negotiations. If you have more questions about how to proceed with your case, contact John Fagan for a free evaluation of your claim.
Tractor Trailer Accident Questions
How is a tractor-trailer accident case different from a car accident case?
What exactly makes a truck a “commercial truck”?
I was involved in a trucking accident in Florida, but I live in Georgia. Where do I file my claim?
Do trucking companies have specific regulations that they have to follow?
Yes. The there are guidelines that trucking companies must follow. The Dept. of Transportation’s FMSCA regulates the federal trucking rules for the U.S. trucking industry. Federal trucking laws are also supplemented by laws established in the state of Florida by the Florida Dept. of Transportation. Some of the things regulated are as such:
- Amount of hours that truck drivers can operate
- truck driver qualifications
- trucking company’s safety guidelines
- size limitations such as weight and width
- emission and noise standards
- truck maintenance and repairs
- truck inspections
Who do I file my claim against, the trucking company or the driver?
Work Accident Questions
Can I sue my employer if I get hurt at work?
How long after an accident do I have to report it to my employer?
When should my employer report the injury to their insurance company?
Are employers in Florida required to carry workers’ comp insurance?
My employer will not report my injury to the insurance company. What can I do?
Can I use my regular doctor?
Can’t I use my regular medical insurance instead?
Will I be paid if I lose time from work?
How much will I be paid?
If you worked less than 90% of the 91-day period, the wages of a similar employee in the same employment who has worked the whole of the 91-day period or your full-time weekly wage may be used.
If you were injured on or after October 1, 2003, your average weekly wage is calculated using wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not counting the week in which you were injured.
In addition, if you worked less than 75% of the 13-week period, a similar employee in the same employment who has worked 75% of the 13-week period or your full time weekly wage shall be used.
Do I have to pay income tax on this money?
No. However, if you go back to work on light or limited duty and are still under the care of the authorized doctor, you will pay taxes on any wages earned while working.
For additional information on Income Tax, you may want to visit the Internal Revenue Service website at: www.irs.gov
If I am unable to return to the type of work I did before I was injured, what can I do?
To find out more about this program, you may contact the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services at (850) 245-3470.
If I settle my claim for medical benefits with the insurance company and my condition gets worse later, who pays for my future medical care, surgeries, etc?
What can I do when it is difficult to get a prescription filled or I am having problems with the pharmacy where I get my workers’ compensation medication?
If at any time, you become dissatisfied with your pharmacy or pharmacist’s services, you can seek another pharmacy to fill your prescriptions.
SSDI – Disability Law Questions
My SSDI claim has been turned down! Can they do that?
How do I get medical care while I am waiting on my claim?
How much will my lawyer charge me?
Will I loose my SSD if I go back to work?
Do I need an attorney to get my benefits?
How does the SSA define disability?
Slip and Fall Accident Questions
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
How is a slip and fall case proven?
The owner/possessor created the dangerous condition
They knew that the condition existed and neglectfully failed to correct it
The condition existed for a long enough time that the owner reasonably should have known about the condition and have corrected it
Who can I hold responsible for a slip, trip and fall accident?
Can I sue my landlord for a slip, trip and fall injury?
Landlords may also be held accountable to tenants and/or third parties for slip, trip and fall injuries. To hold a landlord responsible, you must show that:
- The landlord could control the conditions that caused the injury
- Repairing the issue would not have been too expensive and/or difficult
- It was foreseeable that an injury would occur if the condition was not fixed
- The landlord failed to take reasonable actions steps to avoid the condition
What should I do after a slip and fall accident?
Take notes about the incident and your injuries. The two main things that are important are:
- What exactly happened to give rise to the claim?
- What kind of injury/harm was incurred?
We realize that taking notes will most likely be the last thing on your mind after a such an experience, but remember that it will help you with your case and help you prove your injuries.
As soon as you can, write down everything you can think of that relates to what exactly happened before, during, and after the incident that led to your injury, such as: time and place, weather conditions, who was there, what was said and by who, how it all played out, what you experienced, how you felt, and anything else that might be important.
Medical and Hospital Malpractice Questions
Medical and Hospital Malpractice Questions
Do I need an attorney for my medical or hospital malpractice case?
What sort of damages can I claim?
- Medical expenses for treating your injuries
- damages for pain and suffering
- disfigurement / disability damages
- lost wages
- ability to earn wages in the future
Who can be sued for medical malpractice?
Additional medical bill payment questions.
- If I am unable to pay my medical bills as they are incurred, will my healthcare providers wait for payment?When an injured plaintiff has no immediate ability to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many healthcare providers will agree to wait for payment after the personal injury claim is finally resolved via settlement or trial. It is important to inform medical providers that you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred; this allows for alternative arrangements to be made. First Coast injury attorney John Fagan may be able to help you effectively deal with your medical providers.
- How does my lawyer make sure that my doctors and hospitals are paid?Once a settlement or court verdict is reached, most lawyers will withhold some of that money to pay your doctors and hospitals. Many healthcare providers will actually require that you sign a form (a subrogation or lien form) that allows the attorney to withhold sufficient money from any recovery to pay your medical bills.
- Why won’t the insurance company for the defendant just pay my medical bills as I incur them?Generally, insurance companies for the tortfeasor (the person(s) or company that caused your injuries) will not automatically pay your medical bills. One reason is that they do not want to pay large medical bills and then be faced with an unreasonable or excessive final settlement demand. In other words, they do not want to expend a substantial sum of money on medical bills and then be faced with the expense of defending a lawsuit. Second, insurance companies prefer to settle the claim with one single payment. Therefore, most insurance companies will wait for a letter of demand from your attorney and attempt to settle case with a single lump sum payment.
Contact First Coast injury attorney John Fagan for questions about your personal injury case.
Florida Dog Bite Law Questions
Is Florida a “one-bite” state?
Does a homeowner’s insurance typically cover dog bites?
Can posting a “Beware of Dog” absolve a homeowner of liability if the dog bites?
What information will my dog bite attorney need to prove my case?
- The identity of the dog owner
- If that particular dog did, in fact, bite the victim
- That the victim was lawfully in a public or private place, which is also the property of the owner of the dog
- If the bite actually caused your injury and suffering
- If the dog has any past record of biting in the past
What kinds of damages can I claim if I have been bitten?
- All medical treatment associated with the bite, such as ambulance, emergency room, first aid, prescriptions, etc.
- Future medical treatment for possible scaring
- Counseling for emotional trauma caused by a vicious dog attack
- Loss of wages due to the injuries
- Items damaged in the attack, such as broken cell phones, ripped clothing, broken glasses, etc.