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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?
Yes and no. The law did expire on 10/10/07 but the requirement for Florida motor vehicle operators to carry personal injury protection, also known as PIP coverage, was reinstated on 1/1/2008.
Can I still win an accident claim even if the accident was my fault?
In Florida, if you have PIP insurance, your PIP carrier might be required to pay the first $10,000 of any claim that is related the vehicle accident, regardless of fault.
I was a passenger in a friend’s car and he caused an accident? Should I sue my friend?
His insurance company could be required to pay for your damages if he has bodily injury protection under his policy. They could also be responsible to hire an attorney to defend him if a suit is filed.
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?
You might be eligible to file a claim. Making a left turn is almost always responsible for a collision when any vehicle is coming from the other direction. There are exceptions, such as if you were speeding, ran a red light or acted in a careless manner. In that instance, you might be held partially responsible as per Florida law.
What insurance should I have to protect my family if I am injured in a motorcycle accident?
No-Fault (PIP) law does not apply to motorcycles. Proof of insurance is not required to register your motorcycle. However, the Financial Responsibility Law still applies in the even of an 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?
Up until July of 2000, all motorcycle riders were required to wear a helmet. The law now is that riders over the age of 21 who have at least $10,000 in medical coverage can ride without a helmet. However we recommend anyone operating a motorcycle wear a helmet. It lowers the risk of a fatal injury by almost 30% and lowers the chance of brain injury by almost 70%. Ride smart.
How is negligence proven in a motorcycle accident case?
Most motorcycle accidents are a combination of neglect, carelessness or a failure to act. The law requires that a people owe each other a duty to act how any responsible person would act under similar circumstances.
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?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be wondering how the insurance company for the person who caused your injury will evaluate your claim. A First Coast motorcycle accident attorney may be able to answer specific questions about your case, but here is some general information on how insurance claims adjusters look at cases: A general rule of thumb is that the higher your medical bills are, the more your case is worth. However, if there is any suspicion that you have incurred unnecessary large medical expenses or that you went to a medical treatment “mill” to artificially increase your bills, the claims adjusters will be less likely to pay out.
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?
The main difference is weight. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh upwards of 70,000 pounds, compared to a car, which usually weighs 3,000 pounds. This means that the consequences of a truck accident can be much worse a regular car accident. A trucking accident lawsuit is also handled quite differently. There are more parties involved and different regulations to follow.
What exactly makes a truck a “commercial truck”?
If a large truck is used to transport goods and/or supplies, it can be considered a commercial truck. Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, panel vans, delivery trucks, tankers, dump trucks and other similar large vehicles could all be considered commercial trucks.
I was involved in a trucking accident in Florida, but I live in Georgia. Where do I file my claim?
In these sorts of accidents, you are allowed to file a claim in either state the accident occurred or in the state that the trucking company does business in or is located in.
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?
If the truck driver is under the employ of a trucking company, then you might be able to file a claim against the company directly. However, many truck drivers are contractors, not employees. In that instance it might be more difficult to prove the trucking company was involved in any wrongdoing.
Work Accident Questions
Can I sue my employer if I get hurt at work?
Not generally. The workers’ compensation system is normally how you would go about being compensated for work injuries. However, if the employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, then it might be possible to sue them directly.
How long after an accident do I have to report it to my employer?
You should report it as soon as possible but no later than thirty days or your claim may be denied.
When should my employer report the injury to their insurance company?
Your employer should report the injury as soon as possible, but no later than seven (7) days after their knowledge. The insurance company must send you an informational brochure within three (3) days after receiving notice from your employer. The brochure will explain your rights and responsibilities, as well as provide additional information about the workers’ compensation law. A copy of the brochure can be viewed on this website under “Publications”.
Are employers in Florida required to carry workers’ comp insurance?
Yes, if they have 4 or more employees, they are required to have this coverage.
My employer will not report my injury to the insurance company. What can I do?
You have the right to report the injury to their insurance company.
Can I use my regular doctor?
Unfortunately, the insurance carrier is normally given choice of doctors. You can request to choose a specialist (such as a cardiologist or orthopedist), but this is usually a one-time change for medical reasons only.
Can’t I use my regular medical insurance instead?
No. These kinds of policies do not cover accidents at work and the worker’s comp carrier is under no obligation to follow any instructions a doctor of your own issues.
Will I be paid if I lose time from work?
Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of disability. However, if you lose time because your disability extends to over 21 days, the insurance company may pay you for the first seven days.
How much will I be paid?
In most cases, your benefit check, which is paid bi-weekly, will be 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage. If you were injured before October 1, 2003, this amount is calculated by using wages earned during the 91-day period immediately preceding the date of your injury, not to exceed the state limit.
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?
The law provides, at no cost to you, reemployment services to help you return to work. Services include vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining.
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?
You are responsible for your future medical needs after your claim for medical benefits is settled. This is why it is extremely important to be sure you get a fair settlement and why hiring an experienced SSDI attorney is always a good idea.
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?
In Florida, an injured worker has the right to select a pharmacy or pharmacist. Florida law prohibits interference with your right to choose a pharmacy or pharmacist. However, a pharmacy is not required to participate in the workers’ compensation program.
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?
Yes, but if you are turned down, you still have 60 days to appeal. If you don’t appeal with that time, you could loose your rights to your benefits. Letting this deadline pass is, by far, the biggest mistake one could make.
How do I get medical care while I am waiting on my claim?
Your county health department will assist you. Visit the Florida Department of Health for more info.
How much will my lawyer charge me?
Lawyers fees are limited to 25% of the award of your past due benefits. This means that a quarter of those benefits that have been sitting they’re building up since you were found disabled and the time the benefits are actually paid. The SSA can also cap that amount to be less than that, if it is in excess of $25.000. Regardless, these fees will not come out of your current monthly benefits.
Will I loose my SSD if I go back to work?
You can receive your benefits for at least 9 months after you go back to work. If you can’t continue working past this date, you will still receive your benefits. In addition, Medicare will still continue for 8.5 years after you go back to work. This is to help you feel more comfortable trying to get back in the workplace without the fear of losing your benefits in case it’s not possible.
Do I need an attorney to get my benefits?
Not initially. But if you have been denied, then you might want to find legal representation to help you prepare for an appeal.
How does the SSA define disability?
To be eligible for SSD benefits, a person must be unable to do any kind of gainful work because of a mental or physical illness or impairment, which is expected either to last at least a year, or is expected to end in death.
Slip and Fall Accident Questions
What is a Slip and Fall Accident?
“Slip and fall” is a type of personal injury case where a person slips, trips and/or falls, and is injured on someone else’s property. Slip and fall accidents usually occur on property owned or maintained by another, and the owner or possessor of the property can be held responsible. Dangerous conditions like uneven floors, torn carpet, poor lighting, wet floors, narrow stairs, can all contribute to someone getting hurt.
How is a slip and fall case proven?
In order to prove that a property owner knew of a dangerous condition, it must be shown that:
- 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?
In order to recover for a slip and fall injury, there must be someone responsible for causing the injury. Many people do not realize that some injuries are simply accidents caused by their own carelessness. For instance, if someone trips because he was not looking where he was going, he cannot sue the property owner. An injured person might still be able to recover if the owner is proven to be partly responsible, but the amount awarded would be less.
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
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as negligence committed by a professional health care provider that is not up to the acceptable standards of care as defined by others in the industry with similar experience, such as a doctor, dentist, hospital, nurse, and similarly trained health care professionals.
Do I need an attorney for my medical or hospital malpractice case?
Yes, it is highly advisable to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney. These kinds of cases are very difficult and complex and can become quite expensive. Having an attorney who knows what he is doing can mitigate the time and/or costs involved in winning your 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?
Medical malpractice is not limited to just doctors. It also applies to nurses, dentists, physical therapists, hospital workers, health care facilities, and other similar facilities, such as nursing homes.
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?
Yes, typically a homeowner’s insurance policy covers most dog bite injuries.
Can posting a “Beware of Dog” absolve a homeowner of liability if the dog bites?
In some instances a sign like this can prove that you alerted others to the presense of a dog on your premises. However, your case will be investigated to determine if there is truly any liability based on the facts of the claim.
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.