If you have been injured, our team is prepared to help you through this difficult time. Let us handle the legal aspects of your case as you continue on the path to recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
1How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?
Determining whether you have a right to recover for a personal injury claim is based on three elements: First, a wrongful act; second, an injury and third, causation of the injury as a result of that act. Just as important as determining whether you have a legal right to make a claim is the more practical consideration of whether it is worthwhile to pursue it. That will depend on the value of the claim and the collectability of the person(s) responsible. For additional information explaining the steps involved in pursuing a personal injury claim please call us for a free consultation at: 239-298-8375.
2How much is my personal injury case worth?
The value of a personal injury claim is determined by a number of different factors. The evaluation usually begins with the seriousness of the injury sustained. It will include such things as the amount of your medical bills; the amount of time and income lost from work; the extent of any scarring; disfigurement; or restrictions and limitations the injury causes to your normal functions and activities, and the pain and suffering it has caused. Your claim must also be evaluated based on the strength of the liability. This involves assessing liability issues which may not always be readily apparent. Lastly, the analysis must take into consideration the collectability of potential defendants. After careful analysis of the pertinent facts and issues, our attorneys will help you determine a fair value to your personal injury claim. Typically, this will not take place until you have completed all for your medical treatment and have reached maximum medical inprovement from your treatment.
3Do insurance companies treat injured people fairly?
Insurance companies are businesses (like most others) that exist primarily to generate profits. It is therefore not in the interest of the insurance company to pay you any more than necessary to settle your claim. Unfortunately, some have a history of not dealing fairly with injured parties, including their own customers. Insurance companies are very sophisticated and have decades of experience in negotiating with consumers. Therefore, it is important that you choose a skilled personal injury attorney to help you level the playing field, so you can be fairly compensated for your losses.
4How long will it take for my claim to be resolved?
Each case is different and the facts and circumstances vary as does the medical treatment and personal situation of the injured party. There is no set timetable. A personal injury claim may settle in a few months without the need for a trial, while others can take years to complete.
5What if I was partially at fault for the accident? Can I obtain compensation for my injuries?
Generally speaking, in Florida an injured party may recover damages despite being partially responsible for an accident, based on the comparative negligence doctrine. However, the amount of compensation awarded to the victim may be decreased according to the victim's degree of negligence compared to the entire cause of the accident.
6Is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount?
No, there is no minimum or maximum settlement amount. The amount of a settlement in a personal injury case depends on a number of factors and varies from case to case. As discussed in this section these factors include: the nature and extent of the injury; the amount of economic damages (such as lost wages and medical bills); the amount of time the injury is expected to last; liability issues; and other case specific factors.
7Are medical bills included in a personal injury claim?
Yes. Medical bills are considered part of your “economic damages" which may also include, but are not limited to: lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, rental car expenses, etc.
8What are non-economic damages?
Non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses and harm such as pain, suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, disfigurement, humiliation, distress, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc. In Florida, unlike some States, persons injured in an automobile accident are not automatically entitled to claim non-economic damages. Pursuant to Florida Statutes §627.737, an injured person must have suffered one of the following injuries to claim non-economic damages: (a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability; (c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (d) Death.
9How much does a lawyer cost?
At Auto Accident Attorneys, we handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis which is approved and regulated by the Florida Bar itself. This means that we only get paid if the case is successful and you recover money. The payment is typically a fixed percentage of the recovery, usually one-third.
10What is a contingent fee?
Typically, in these types of injury cases, attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. That means the fees are paid only if there is a recovery or a settlement or verdict for you, and then as a percentage of the settlement funds. These percentages are regulated by the State Bar in Florida. You owe nothing unless there is a successful recovery.
11Can my lawyer settle my personal injury case without my consent?
Absolutely not. It is your case. You will be consulted whenever an offer is made and we will give you our best advice. The decision of whether to accept a settlement offer is yours.
12Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?
Yes, and this is very common. Most health insurance policies now have language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person gets a personal injury settlement. This is clearly a factor that is considered in attempting to place a value on your case.
13Can I gain access to my child's personal injury settlement money?
Generally, no. A parent usually does not have access to a child's settlement funds. The reason for this is to protect children from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the injured child. Where minors are involved, the case cannot even settle without the Court’s approval. Courts in Florida require that a child's settlement money be deposited in a restricted bank account until the child turns 18.
14If I am injured, how long do I have to make a claim?
The applicable time period to bring a claim is referred to as the statute of limitations and is contained in §95.11 of the Florida Statutes. In Florida, the general rule for a personal injury case is that it must be started within 4 years of the date of the accident. If it is a wrongful death action, the case must be started within 2 years from the date of the accident. The rules may vary depending on the circumstances of the claim. These issues can be fairly complicated. Your best course of action is to take action immediately. This includes contacting an attorney as soon as possible after you have been injured, so that your situation can be fully investigated and a proper determination can be made as to what type of action should be taken to preserve your legal rights. If a lawsuit has not been properly commenced within the time prescribed by law, you will lose your rights to make a claim.
15What should I bring with me when meeting with a personal injury lawyer?
You should provide your lawyer with any documents that might be relevant to your case. That includes police reports, medical reports and bills. The declarations page of your automobile insurance policy and information about the insurer of the person who caused your injury is extremely helpful, and any photographs you have of the accident scene, your property damage and your injury. Also bring any correspondence sent to you from the insurance company or any other person or entity involved in the case. The more information you are able to give your lawyer, the easier it will be for him or her to determine if your claim will be successful.
16What should I expect when I meet with a personal injury lawyer for the first time?
You should expect the lawyer to explain the law relating to your case: the steps necessary to bring your case to conclusion; the agreement relating to fees and expenses, the extent to which you will be involved in the case and the length of time various steps in your case may take. However, before a personal injury lawyer can provide this explanation, the lawyer needs to have detailed information about your accident and injuries. Therefore, you should also expect to be questioned as to the incident and to fully explain how you were injured, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the extent of your injuries, the treatment that you’ve had and will likely have in the future, your health and employment history and any loss of wages or earnings from your injuries. For more information related to meeting with a personal injury attorney, please see the following link: http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/meeting-with-an-attorney.html.
17My medical insurance has paid all of my medical bills. My auto insurance has already paid for the damage to my car. What other claim for compensation can I make?
Under Florida law, depending on whether you injuries meet certain statutory thresholds as outlined in Florida Statutes §627.737, you may be entitled to make a claim for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and/or inconvenience that you have experienced due to your injuries in an accident. You may also be entitled to recover for other economic damages such as lost wages, loss of future earning capacity and/or other expenses directly arising from the accident. If the accident leaves you permanently injured, or disfigured, you may be able to obtain additional compensation.
18I've been injured in an accident and don't have medical insurance to pay for my medical treatment. Who will pay for my medical bills caused by the accident?
Your attorney can seek to recover your medical expenses from the individual or company at fault in your accident along with the other types of compensation. In many instances, your attorney can recover from your own auto insurance policy at no additional premium increase to you. In automobile accident cases, your automobile insurance coverage will pay for at least the first $10,000.00 of any medical bills you may incur (under your PIP coverage).
19My doctor has advised me that I have suffered permanent damage as a result of my accident. What am I entitled to recover?
Suffering a “permanent injury” as defined by Florida Statutes §627.737, is one basis for which to recover for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience associated with living with the permanent effects of an injury. The law and facts dictate a methodology for appropriately placing a value on your injuries. For example, life expectancy tables can be used to calculate your probable life expectancy. Your attorney can then determine an appropriate amount of compensation to seek on your behalf.
20I was injured by a driver who had no insurance at the time of the accident. Can I still obtain compensation for my injuries?
Possibly. In Florida, in order to drive an automobile on a public roadway, one must have the mandatory minimum amount of automobile insurance. Your own automobile insurance policy may provide Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This is insurance to protect you if you are injured by someone who is driving without insurance, or without enough insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries.
21I was injured by an unidentified driver who left the scene of the accident. Is there any way I can make a claim for my injuries?
Yes. In such a situation, under Florida law you may be able to make a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage contained in your automobile insurance policy.
22I've been hurt in an accident and I want to file a claim for my injuries. What should I do?
There are a number of things you can do in the first few days and weeks after an accident to protect your right to compensation, such as:  write down as much as you can about the accident itself, your injuries and any other losses (such as wages) you've suffered as a result of the accident. Be sure to keep track of every expense related to medical treatment or other expenses caused by an accident such as a rental car. Also be sure to keep track of how you are feeling each day, making sure to note the specific ways in which the injury is affecting your everyday life and your routine.  Make notes of conversations that you have with people involved in the accident or the injury claim;  Preserve evidence of who caused the accident and what damage was done by collecting physical evidence and taking photographs;  Locate people who witnessed the accident and who might be able to help you prove your case;  Contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate and pursue your claim on your behalf. For more information on steps to take following an automobile accident, please see the following link: http://injury.findlaw.com/accident-injury-law/first-steps-after-an-injury.html
23What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?
It depends on whether the person died as a result of injuries from the accident, or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of the injuries caused by the accident, that person's heirs may recover money through a lawsuit known as a wrongful death action. On the other hand, even if a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the personal injury claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person's estate.
24What can I receive if my personal injury lawsuit is successful?
This will depend on the specific issues related to the case. However, generally speaking a person’s automobile insurance company will compensate an injured person for such things as: medical care and related expenses; lost income or earning capacity caused by the accident; expenses created by the accident; permanent physical disability or disfigurement; pain and suffering; emotional damages, such as stress, embarrassment, depression or strains on family relationships; and damaged property. The intent of the legal system is to award an injured person "damages," which is money intended to restore (as much as possible) that person to a position he or she enjoyed before the injury.