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Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury in Florida

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Personal Injury

Personal injury law provides a venue for those injured in accidents to pursue compensation. To qualify, plaintiffs must have sustained injury due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional action of the defendant(s). Defendants can be individuals, businesses, or government entities.

Injured parties can seek damages for a wide variety of causes, including auto accidents, falls, and assaults. No limitation on the type of accident exists. The key to establishing liability rests in demonstrating the defendant’s fault.

In almost all cases, yes. Most often, the defendant has an insurance policy to cover his liability. Because of this, you must go against the legal machine of a deep-pocketed organization. Even if your claim and damages seem straightforward, insurers put up a fight.

They create defenses aimed at convincing a court to throw your case out or severely diminish your compensation. For example, the defense often argues that you are partially at fault. Your personal injury lawyer knows how to build a case that destroys these defenses and wins you the compensation you deserve.

The length of time varies substantially based on complexity and the level of damages. Length of time also depends on whether the litigants take a conciliatory or litigious approach. Average cases settle in one to two years. Trial cases require two or more years, plus up to several additional years if either party appeals.

Litigants can base appeals on the verdict or the amount of damages. Insurance companies tend to appeal on all grounds possible. Some cases settle during the appellate process.

The first step is filing a claim with your insurer and the other driver’s. This generates a claim number at both companies and triggers the assignment of an insurance adjuster to each claim. This process takes less than 30 days.

When only property damage is involved, the insurance companies likely settle the matter between themselves. However, when injuries are involved, the chances of a settlement occurring without push back from a personal injury attorney are slight. For this reason, always consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury auto accident.

You have a choice between accepting the opposing insurers claims determination or litigating. When a large amount of money is involved, litigation is usually necessary to obtain the best result.

Insurance companies pay most personal injury settlements. Auto- and homeowners insurers are most often the financially responsible parties. Vehicle insurance companies must pay plaintiffs economic and noneconomic damages when their customer caused an injury accident. Typically, they try to justify a lower award by claiming the plaintiff contributed to the accident, such as by speeding.

Homeowners insurance policies protect clients against liability if someone injures themselves on the property due to the homeowner’s negligence. As with auto insurance providers, they often try to blame all or part of the accident on the plaintiff.

Car Accidents

The amount demanded in a car accident lawsuit depends on the extent of the injuries, property damage, and how the incident impacted your life and livelihood. Injured parties may receive economic and non-economic compensation.

Economic Compensation
Property damage
Medical bills
Hospital stays
In-patient/outpatient rehabilitation
Physical therapy
Lost wages
Lost business income
Lost benefits

Non-Economic Compensation
Pain and suffering
Emotional distress
Loss of enjoyment of life
Loss of consortium

Car accidents settlements vary widely. Damages and the causes of the accident play pivotal roles in the value of the claim.

To make an estimate, you must first total compensatory damages, including medical bills, property damage, and lost income.

Next, you must consider the severity of general damages, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. General damages are usually accounted for as a number of compensatory damages. The worse the impact on the victim’s life, the higher the multiple.

Then there is the question of comparative negligence. Courts reduce the plaintiffs award by 1% for every 1% it finds the plaintiff contributed to the accident. For obvious reasons, comparative negligence percentages are hotly contested in personal injury cases.

A typical car accident settlement with injuries takes one to two years to settle. Most plaintiffs would prefer a shorter time frame, but it is usually not possible to achieve best results without completing much or all of the discovery process. Once they have the evidence, the case is likely to settle.

The length of the lawsuit depends in large part on whether it goes to trial. Most cases settle sometime during the discovery process, which takes one to two years. Discovery includes the collection of physical evidence, interrogatories, and depositions.

If the case goes through depositions without settling, it may be resolved before trial with a settlement conference.

Trials and appeals add several years to the lawsuit, but the vast majority of cases settle pre-trial.

Car accident lawyers work injury cases on contingency. Contingency fees guarantee that the plaintiff pays nothing unless he or she collects. In addition, it defers court costs and other additional expenses until the defense pays a settlement or award.

A typical contingency fee agreement includes one-third of the settlement for attorneys fees plus additional expenses.

Conitgnency fees make it possible for plaintiffs to litigate personal injury cases for much longer without the financial stress of paying astronomical hourly attorney rates. Because achieving best results usually requires at least going through the beginning stages of discovery, many clients would be unable to afford representation without contingency fees.

Car accident lawyers fight for the rights of injured parties against insurance companies.

Insurers focus on their bottom line. Their business model dictates that they profit most by taking in as much premium as possible and paying out as little in claims as they can.

Since the insurance market contains heavy competition, they must keep premiums lower than they might prefer. They can make up these premium discounts by reducing claims payouts.

Car accident lawyers fight back by building cases that win at trial. Once insurers know they will lose in court, they are willing to offer fair settlements to save the astronomical costs of trials and appeals.

Motorcycle Accidents

Average payouts for motorcycle accidents are misleading because of the extreme variance. Minor injury and property damage cases may settle for as little as $10,000 to $15,000. On the other hand, major injury and wrongful death claims can go into the seven and eight figures.

The largest factor is the extent of the injury. A sprained ankle may be worth a small amount but someone paralyzed and in need of around the clock care for life requires millions of dollars to cover these expenses. Wrongful death claims from families have similarly high damages.

Payouts come down to the amount of monetary and general damages suffered by the plaintiff minus any comparative negligence. Comparative negligence comes into play when the plaintiff had a role, even if very small, in causing the collision.

Florida law imposes no limit on how much you can sue for in a motorcycle accident case. Cases with very minor injuries and property damage may settle for $10,000 to $15,000. Alternatively, spinal cord injur-y and wrongful death claims can be worth six or seven figures.

Personal injury law allows plaintiffs to seek damages for compensatory and general damages. Compensatory damages include provable financial harms, such as medical bills, rehabilitation therapy, long-term care and lost income.

General damages are intangible harms, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

In rare cases, punitive damages come into play. Courts impose punitive damages to crack down on bad actors. Most vehicle accident cases result from negligence rather than a bad act. However, if the defendant acted in an outrageous manner that endangered others, punitive damages may apply.

Truck Accidents

Truck accidents often involve the liability of multiple parties. For instance, a semi-truck crash may have been caused by negligence on the part of the driver, trucking company, maintenance provider, or manufacturer.

Truck accident lawyers get to the bottom of the crash’s cause and pursue litigation against all responsible parties. With the evidence in hand, your truck accident lawyer can negotiate a substantial settlement or win the case at trial.

Truck accident lawyers work on contingency. Contingency fee agreements require no payment from the client until the defendant pays. Then the attorneys fees, usually one-third, are deducted from the settlement or award.

Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall settlements range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousand to seven figures. It depends upon the extent of the damages sustained by the plaintiff.

Settlements encompass compensatory and general damages.

Compensatory damages include the direct financial harms of the injury: medical bills, property damage, lost income, and other pecuniary damages.

General damages account for non-monetary harms, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death claims compensate families for a loved one lost because of another party’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional action.

The families win if they can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant(s) had a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and their loved ones death resulted from that breach. To win maximum damages, they must demonstrate the impact of the loss on family members.

Defendants can include individuals, companies, or government entities. For instance, all drivers have an assumed duty of care toward other motorists and pedestrians. If they breach that duty through careless driving and kill someone, they are responsible for a wrongful death.

Wrongful death claims focus on the damage to survivors. Survival actions seek compensation due to the victim had she survived.

The executor of the estate files survival actions and payments are made against the estate, making them important for the heirs. The executor can seek compensatory damages, such as property damage, medical bills, and lost income. In addition, the executor may claim general damages, such as for the pain and suffering of the deceased after a prolonged struggle to survive.

Medical Malpractice

Healthcare providers engage in medical malpractice when they fail to follow accepted medical standards and harm a patient because of this neglect.

For example, an emergency room doctor may do everything by the book and try his hardest to save a car accident victim but the patient still passes away. There is no medical malpractice because the doctor did everything he was supposed to do. Sometimes, people cannot be saved.

On the other hand, an oncologist who missed a virulent form of cancer because he skipped a key procedural step in conducting the diagnosis has made a medical malpractice mistake. Even if the cancer is later detected and the patient is saved, liability exists. The patient is entitled to whatever damages the delay in treatment caused.

Though similar to other personal injury claims, the discovery and trial process can become more complex. The standard for medical malpractice requires plaintiffs to demonstrate more than a poor result. They must prove the poor result came from the healthcare provider’s failure to follow accepted medical standards.

Proving the doctor handled the case poorly is insufficient if his actions were within the scope of accepted medical standards. Because of this, plaintiffs need expert witnesses to show how the doctor departed from standards and link the departure to patient harm.

Brain Injury

Brain injury compensation is often substantial. The amount depends on the severity of impact on the victim.

For example, a head injury from an auto accident may leave a person with temporary mild cognitive impairment. In that case, the victim has entitlement to compensation for treatment and the impacts of the mild cognitive impairment for the time it lasted.

On the other hand, some brain injuries cause lifelong disability. In these cases, the damages can extend into the millions for severely impacted patients.