Personal Injury FAQ
Do I have a legal claim?
One of the first things that individuals think about after an accident is whether they have a legal claim to compensation. It can be difficult to determine which party is responsible for the harm caused in an accident. In general, civil law maintains that individuals who are injured (or their surviving family) has a legal claim against any party that intentionally or negligently caused them harm.
What is Negligence?
Negligent misconduct is a little bit trickier than intentional misconduct, but generally refers to when a party acts in an unreasonable manner. This form of civil suit is more common than intentional harm, and applies to cases such as car accidents when a driver fails to stop at a red light or fails to break and rear-ends another car. Other professionals such as doctors can cause negligent harm to their patients, and in some cases of "strict liability" the party does not ever need to be shown to have acted negligently.
How soon should I file a lawsuit?
It is ideal to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the injury. There is only a short window of opportunity to file a claim and this time period, also called the statute of limitations, can prevent the victim from obtaining any compensation for injuries.
Can I handle my own case or do I need an attorney?
It is understandable that individuals want to settle the matter as soon as possible and forget about it. As a result, individuals may attempt to settle legal issues without professional representation. However, there are various drawbacks to this strategy. In virtually every case, a skilled attorney is able to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your losses. Those representing the other party are themselves aiming to pay as little money as possible based on how much effort the injured party will expend to fight for full compensation.
Can I still obtain compensation if I was partially at fault for the injuries?
This depends on the jurisdiction, but only in a few places are individuals unable to recover compensation if their own negligence helped contribute to the losses. Most of the time however, some level of compensation can still be received by the victim for their injuries.
How much is my case worth?
These questions are difficult to answer without knowing all of the details about what exactly happened, how and why it happened. The value of a case is generally determined by past and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and any pain or suffering as a result of the accident. There is no standard formula for determining the exact value of the losses resulting from an accident, but a qualified lawyer will ensure that any damages conferred by the accident will be quantified used to receive adequate compensation.
How long will my personal injury lawsuit take?
It is impossible to predict with certainty how much time a case will need to be resolved. A personal injury lawsuit can take a few months without either party going to trial whereas other cases can take years to be settled.
What should I do after an accident?
The best course of action following an accident is to write down every detail you can remember, along with phone numbers and statements by police, insurance providers, or witnesses. In the days following the accident, take notes of any pain or discomfort you feel as a result of the accident, and be prepared to discuss this with a doctor so that your medical records can be used as evidence later on.
Should I accept the insurance company settlement?
Insurance companies are primarily determined to minimize the money they pay out and maximize the company's profit. In fact, the insurance adjuster is usually paid extra by the company to resolve claims for as little compensation with as little time spent as possible. To coax you into accepting a smaller payment than you deserve, an insurance agent may be ready soon after the accident with an immediate payment for compensation. It is important to be careful by getting legal advice as soon as possible to ensure that the full value of your injuries are compensated for.
What is a letter of protection?
A letter of protection is a document which allows a patient to obtain medical treatment without having to pay until a future date. Generally, the patient is not reimbursed until a full recovery is made. However it is important to understand that if the case is not resolved in the victim's favor, the injured party is responsible for paying the entire medical bills.
What is MMI?
After your doctor has finished treating your injuries, we generally require a final statement. When the medical specialist determines that the patient has reached MMI, or maximum medical improvement, the doctor may assign a permanent impairment rating based on the guidelines of the American Medical Association. Insurance companies may want to view these ratings for the final case evaluation.
Why do I have to pay a PIP deductible?
Florida's no-fault law maintains that car owners must have at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. When choosing a PIP plan, you are permitted to pay a low monthly rate with no deductible in the case of an accident. You are also allowed to purchase PIP insurance with deductibles of a few hundred to to a few thousand dollars. If you have a deductible, the premium will be higher, and you are agreeing to pay that amount up front if an accident does occur before PIP begins coverage.