Frequently Asked Questions
- When Should a Personal Injury Lawyer Be Used?
- What Can I Expect From a Personal Injury Claim?
- How Long Should a Personal Injury Claim Take?
- What is the Average Settlement for a Personal Injury Claim?
- What Happens if You Win a Personal Injury Lawsuit and They Can’t Pay?
- What Should I Do if I Get in a Car Accident?
- Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
- How Much Should I Expect From My Car Accident Settlement?
- How Do Attorneys Get Paid for Representing the Victim of a Car Accident?
- What Happens if You Have a Car Accident and It’s Your Fault?
- What Should You Not Do After an Accident?
You should consider hiring an attorney if someone else’s carelessness or negligence caused you to suffer an injury more serious than a simple strain, sprain, bruise, or scrape. This is often not as simple as it sounds, however, as serious injuries sometimes take days or weeks to fully manifest to the extent that they are recognizable and diagnosable. Although we are all familiar with the expression that the second day after a sprained ankle is often the worst day, we mistakenly expect that serious injuries are always immediately apparent. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case with connective tissue injuries – especially as we age and our bodies experience normal wear and tear degenerative changes. Sometimes a serious connective tissue injury can be mistaken for aches and pains in the first days – or even weeks – after the injury. For these reasons, it can be wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you have been injured by someone else not following the rules – even if your injuries do not initially appear to be very serious. You can always discontinue representation with a personal injury lawyer who works exclusively on a contingency fee without owing the attorney anything if your injuries fully resolve and you do not wish to pursue a claim.
While every claim is different, in our experience no matter the nature of your claim or the extent of your injuries you can expect that the insurance company will seek to diminish the extent of your injuries and losses. Because competent medical evidence is required to prove your injuries and losses – and substantiate your claim – it is important to report all of your injuries and symptoms to your treating doctors and diligently follow the advice the instructions of your medical caregivers. Once your injuries have been fully assessed, diagnosed, and treated, your attorney will be in a position to present your claim to the insurance company. Depending on the circumstance of the incident and the evidence of your injuries and losses, a settlement may be reached or a lawsuit may need to be filed to prove your claim.
Because every case is different, there is no universal answer to how long a personal injury claim will take. Some personal injury claims may be resolved in as little as six months after the incident, while other claims may take years of litigation in court. The time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim is determined by many different factors, including the complexity and seriousness of the injuries, the nature of the incident, and the extent to which the defendant or insurance company seeks to contest and delay the claim. It is important to understand that the only way to make an insurance company pay for a claim they are unwilling to settle voluntarily is to file a lawsuit and proceed through litigation to trial – a process that can sometimes take years to complete.
There is no such thing as an average settlement of a personal injury claim. Every claim is unique and every case is valued based upon the degree of the defendant’s wrongdoing and the extent of the injuries caused. A personal injury settlement is intended to balance the extent of the injuries and losses caused by the incident with financial restitution intended to compensate for such injurie and losses. The clearer the evidence of the defendant’s wrongdoing, the fuller the restitution. The greater the harm suffered, the larger the expected settlement.
While insurance companies are almost always able to pay for the judgment that is entered after winning a lawsuit, not everyone has insurance. Furthermore, many who have insurance do not have enough insurance to fully compensate for the injuries they have caused. An experienced personal injury lawyer should evaluate the prospects and potential sources of recovery at the outset of the case. While there are times where a lawsuit must be filed without the certainty of a known source of recovery, assessing the viability of collecting the money owed after winning a personal lawsuit is an important part of the process which should be accounted for by your attorney. Additionally, an experienced personal injury lawyer will search for potential sources of financial recovery from the persons or parties who are responsible for having caused the incident and injuries.
Attend to your health and safety first! Do not do anything that could worsen your injuries or jeopardize your health. If possible, stay in your vehicle and out of the path of oncoming traffic. We have seen the tragedy of an accident victim surviving a crash, only to be catastrophically injured or killed by oncoming traffic in a second collision. Report the collision as soon as possible and seek appropriate treatment for your injuries. For more information, visit What to do After an Accident.
If you have suffered more than a minor injury, consulting a competent and experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company or the other driver who caused the crash. While not every car accident leads to an injury claim, getting an attorney after a crash where you were injured can help preserve evidence to establish who was at fault in the crash and also ensure that you are receiving the medical care and treatment that you require. Hiring a lawyer who you can trust is always worth it - whether you were seriously injured and entitled to substantial compensation or your injuries fully resolved and you simply want to ensure that your bills are paid in full, an honest and trustworthy attorney can help you navigate the confusing and frustrating process of dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of a car wreck.
Car accident settlements are based upon the strength of the evidence proving that the crash was not your fault and the weight of the evidence establishing the seriousness of the injuries that were caused by the collision. There is no formula to determine how much a car accident settlement will be, and the value of your claim is often not fully known until months after the crash when you have completed medical treatment. Although every case is different and settlement amounts are determined by the unique facts of each individual case, an experienced attorney can assist you in fighting to obtain full and fair compensation for the injuries and losses that you suffered as a result of the collision.
Although most people think they have to pay their attorney by the hour, many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee. A contingency fee is a fee where the attorney receives a portion of the recovery that is made on behalf of their client. Instead of being paid by the hour, personal injury attorneys working on a contingency fee only get paid if they make a recovery on behalf of their client. The fee is then calculated based upon a percentage of the recovery that was made on behalf of the client. In addition to the attorney’s fee, any out of pocket costs advanced by the attorney will be repaid to the attorney out of the settlement proceeds. A contingency fee makes justice available to people who otherwise may not have the means to hire an attorney and pay the attorney’s hourly rate.
Whether or not you caused the collision, you should still attend to your health and safety first! Florida law requires every policy of automobile insurance to provide a minimum of $10,000 of coverage for accident related medical care and lost wages. Even if you were at fault, you should still ensure that you receive proper medical care for any injuries suffered in the accident. You should also immediately report the accident to your insurance company so that the insurance company is notified of the crash and able to fulfill their duty to defend and indemnify you against any claims arising from the collision.
Here are a list of the top five things NOT to do after an accident:
- DO NOT leave the scene of an accident before authorities have arrived;
- DO NOT get out of your vehicle in the path of oncoming traffic;
- DO NOT refuse treatment when you have been injured;
- DO NOT fight with any other party involved in the accident, no matter how mad or upset you are;
- DO NOT argue with the law enforcement officer investigating the crash – if you treat the officer with dignity and respect, they will be far more likely to listen and consider your version of what happened.