The realities of a personal injury lawsuit can be quite different from what you might expect.
Because it is difficult enough to try to heal physically and emotionally from a personal injury—especially one caused by the negligence of another —the last thing you need when you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is to be disappointed in your recovery or the process as a result of having unrealistic expectations.
Our expectations of what a personal injury lawsuit is like is shaped by television, movies, and the news. Quite often these sources portray sensational versions of a lawsuit. For example, they may emphasize massive monetary awards in sensational personal injury cases. Or they may inaccurately portray personal injury litigation as involving brutal cross-examinations or surprise witnesses that testify to facts completely unknown to the plaintiff before trial. While this may make for good drama and entertainment, it often has little to do with the reality of persona injury litigation.
So it is important to know what to expect if you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit. The best place to start, of course, is by talking to a Florida personal injury lawyer. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will give you the best insight into how the law may apply in your case and what you can realistically expect in terms of money damages and how long your case may take.
Below we will look at four realities of a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. There are, of course, additional issues and considerations, but these four should give you a good feeling for what to expect from your personal injury lawsuit.
So let’s get started.
4 Realities of a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida
It’s about compensation, not punishment.
When you or one of your loved ones is injured because of the negligence of another, it is completely normal to experience some level of anger towards that person. Feelings of anger and a desire to get revenge are particularly intensified if the injured person is a child or if they die. You want to hurt the wrongdoer as badly as he hurt you. We understand that.
But personal injury lawsuits are not about getting revenge. They are not about punishing the wrongdoer or making him “pay for what he did.”
Instead, they are all about compensating you for what you suffered because of the other person’s negligence.
When you are injured in a car accident for example, you will suddenly have unexpected bills to pay. You may have medical bills, lost time from work, and property damage to pay. All of this can impose an enormous financial burden on an injured plaintiff.
In addition, you may suffer great pain, or have nightmares, or become depressed, or experience other emotional damage because of the accident. Thus, a car accident can have a financial and emotional impact on a person.
So you may want your personal injury lawsuit to punish the wrongdoer for putting you through all this. But again, the reality is that personal injury lawsuits are for the purpose of compensating you for the damage done, they are not designed to punish the “bad guy.”
There are some exceptions to this rule, however, generally speaking, personal injury damages in Florida are not punitive. To the extent Florida does allow punitive damages in a personal injury case, they are capped – meaning they cannot exceed a certain amount.
Thus, you can expect to be compensated for your provable losses, but you cannot realistically expect the defendant to be “punished” for his or her actions.
Florida’s no-fault law does not mean you can escape liability.
On the flip side, if you are the at-fault driver in a car crash or if you contributed to the accident, you cannot realistically expect to escape all liability.
Unfortunately, many people are under the mistaken impression that Florida’s No-Fault rules mean that no matter who is at-fault for an accident, you cannot be held liable for the resulting damages.
This is incorrect.
Florida’s No-Fault law requires drivers to carry at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance as part of their car insurance. In the event of an accident, this PIP insurance pays for the insured’s expenses related to the covered accident —regardless of who was at fault. This does not mean, however, that if you were at fault for the accident that the other party cannot sue you.
So long as there is evidence of negligence and certain threshold damages are met, Florida’s No-Fault law does not prevent an injured party from suing the at-fault party.
The Insurance company can, and will, drag it out as long as possible.
Another litigation reality that many people do not expect is that insurance companies often do everything possible to drag out litigation for as long as possible.
The reality is that insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying it out. Therefore, they employ lots of different litigation tactics designed to keep the insurance company from having to pay a claim.
For example, they often pressure unrepresented individuals to settle their cases —fast and for as little as possible.
Insurance companies also spend significant time and money investigating a plaintiff’s personal injury claims with a view towards discrediting the plaintiff so that the matter will either be dismissed, or the plaintiff pressured into settling, or the amount awarded by the jury will be as low as possible.
Another ploy insurance companies use to avoid paying personal injury claims is to drag out a case as long as possible. Clearly, because of their greater financial power, the insurance company can hold out for years while a case is tied up in discovery disputes or failed settlement attempts. An injured plaintiff, on the other hand, frequently can’t hold out very long as they try to pay everyday living expenses in addition to unexpected medical bills. The longer the insurance company drags the case out, the more likely the plaintiff will either die or give up.
The reality of personal injury litigation is that one must be prepared to face these and other insurance company tactics. The best possible way to od this is to hire a Florida personal injury lawyer.
You are better off hiring a Florida personal injury attorney.
The reality is that there are some things that you simply should not try to do on your own. Trying to resolve your personal injury case on your own —especially if you have serious injuries—is one of them.
Your best chance of success in recovering compensation for your injuries lies in hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Hiring a personal injury lawyer just makes good sense. A Florida personal injury lawyer knows the law and knows how to handle insurance companies. He will also be able to guide you through what is often a difficult, complex, and confusing process.
Plus, it’s affordable.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that they do not charge you for their work by the hour. Rather, your contract will state that at the end of your case, if you win your lawsuit, your lawyer will be entitled to a certain percentage of the award. If you do not win your lawsuit, then you do not pay your attorney (you do, however, still have to pay costs associated with the litigation).
Since you don’t pay anything up front and any amount you do pay comes out of your award, the reality is that hiring a personal injury attorney is easy and affordable.
Personal Injury Attorneys Helping You.
John Fagan and his experienced team are dedicated to helping those who have been injured due to the negligence of another. Contact us now for your free consultation or simply call our firm at: 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.