Personal Injury Attorney Orange Park FL: Elements of Negligence
Personal injury law covers a broad spectrum of actions and behavior whereby, in the vast majority of cases, you have been injured through the negligence of another. It is common to speak of the resolution of such matters as dependent on which party was at fault and how much the case is worth. Although these are important considerations, to prevail in a personal injury claim and recover for the injuries you have sustained, a personal injury attorney in Orange Park FL must prove the negligence of the defendant by a showing of the presence of four key elements.
It must be shown that the defendant owed you (the injured plaintiff) some sort of duty. Absent a special duty that may be owed by the nature of the relationship between two parties, there is a general duty of care that each individual owes to another to avoid placing him or her in danger of harm. In some cases, the duty is clear; as an example, the Florida law cites specific rules and regulations for driving. In many other instances, there are not such defined standards, and a personal injury attorney Starke FL can explain that the duty of care is to act reasonably under the circumstances.
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 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?
It is virtually impossible to produce a reliably accurate estimate of the value of a personal injury claim until negotiations are winding down. There are numerous factors that may affect the ultimate value of your case, which your Florida personal injury attorney will describe to you in your initial meeting with him.
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?
Your Florida personal injury attorney will make every effort to negotiate a fair settlement without you having to go to trial. However, there may be instances where a fair settlement is simply impossible and litigation is the only way you can get the money that you deserve.
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.
Case Value Factors to Know
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.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty has been established, it must be proved the defendant breached that duty in some manner. It may seem apparent that running a red light, for instance, is a breach of the duty of care to drive in a safe manner. But what if the duty of care is to act as a reasonable person would? That can be subject to different interpretation. Consider a situation in which a tenant falls in a poorly lit hallway. The landlord does have a duty to maintain the property in a safe manner, but what is reasonable in terms of inspecting the hallway and replacing burned out light bulbs?
There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and your injury. As an example, one driver may have run the red light, but what if the other driver was making an illegal turn at the same time? Additionally, perhaps the light bulb may have been out in the hallway, but what if the tenant was careless and running?
The plaintiff must have suffered a measurable loss that is definite and calculable. It may include physical, emotional, property, and other types of damages.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Middleburg FL for Legal Advice
Personal injury cases require experienced and knowledgeable counsel. For an understanding of your rights, call personal injury attorney Middleburg FL John Fagan at (844) 334-6699.