The law is complicated and we know you have questions. We have listed the most common questions asked by our clients below. If you don’t find an answer here, then please feel free to contact us for assistance.
General Personal Injury Questions
If you or a loved one has been injured from the negligence of another, then you may be eligible to collect for medical bills, lost wages, punitive damages, long-term injuries or disabilities or even death. But first we must be able to prove that an injury actually occurred. We must also be able to prove that the person(s) you are suing are really liable for the accident.
This is a question we cannot answer. There are many factors that can determine the worth of a personal injury case. A lawyer needs all of the facts before he or she can even make any kind of estimate, whatsoever.
We don’t advise it. It is important to find a qualified personal injury attorney to be certain that your legal rights are not violated. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Insurance representatives are highly trained to mitigate the amount that they have to pay out on every case that comes through the door. An experienced personal injury lawyer is aware of all the tricks of the trade and can easily navigate in this environment to help you receive the fair settlement you deserve.
Our firm represents our clients on a contingent fee basis. Under this arrangement, there is no fee, unless and until there is a recovery.
The rule is – the more information, the better! The more information you lawyer has, the easier it will be to decide if your case could be a success. Bring any documents that you think might be relevant, such as:
- Police reports / Accident reports
- Any eyewitness accounts obtained by the police or yourself.
- Copies of medical reports from doctors and/or hospitals
- Insurance information, including any other parties involved in an accident
- Relevant photos of injuries and/or damages
- Notes you have written down at the scene of an accident
If you need help obtaining some of these documents, you lawyer can almost always obtain them for you.
It’s important, very important, that your attorney has ALL of the facts. Otherwise, a surprise later could ruin your case. An attorney might need to know…
- Have you been involved in an accident before?
- Do you have any previous injuries?
- Have you been involved in any lawsuits in the past?
- Have you ever been hospitalized?
- Have you ever used alcohol or drugs?
- Do you have a criminal background?
- Have you ever been treated for a physiological disorder?
- Have you ever had a worker’s compensation claim before?
- What statements have you given the police and/or insurance adjustors?
- Have you ever failed to file and/or pay your taxes?
- Have you ever been known to be untruthful?
We could add many more to the list, but you get the idea. Anything…anything at all that has a possibility of hurting your case needs to be discussed with your attorney.
The period of time in which a claim must be filed varies depending on the type of claim. For instance, a car accident claim has a different statute of limitations than a wrongful death claim. A medical malpractice claim has a different statute of limitations than a worker’s compensation case.
A deposition is a statement given under oath. This usually takes place in front of court reporter at the attorney’s office. Witnesses are called in for a deposition to answer questions from both parties. The transcript from the court reporter is then signed by the witness and sworn to be accurate under oath.
In cases of product liability, a defendant who has produced many copies of a defective product, such as a faulty tire, may face multiple lawsuits, with the jury in each case awarding punitive damages.
Every personal injury case involves certain costs that you will be required to pay separate from your personal injury lawyer’s fee. These range from very low (if you just need to make a few copies) to hundreds of dollars (if you need experts to produce reports or if your case involves voluminous files).
Although your First Coast personal injury lawyer may agree to a contingent fee agreement (which means that he will only be paid if your case settles or results in a favorable verdict), you will be responsible for these other costs regardless of your case’s outcome. Your lawyer’s fee reimburses him for his time and helps offset some of the costs of running his business, such as renting office space, buying supplies, and paying secretarial staff, but it would not be economically feasible for attorneys to finance personal injury cases, especially when there is a chance he won’t be paid at all. You will need to discuss with your attorney what out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for paying and whether you will pay them upfront, as the are incurred, or after the conclusion of the case. Some of the more common costs that may be encountered include:
- Fees charged by doctors and hospitals to prepare medical records. Simple copies of existing reports are cheap, but if you need your doctor to write a custom report, it is more expensive.
- Fees charged by other experts who give their opinion. While medical records are needed in almost every case, reports from other experts are necessary only in certain cases. For example, in a car accident case where the cause of the accident is in dispute, you may need an opinion from a professional accident reconstructionist.
- Costs of copies and photographs. The insurance company will need copies of your medical and employment records, and if there are photos you wish to submit, these will need to be printed and possibly enlarged.
- Costs of litigation. If your case does not settle and your First Coast personal injury lawyer needs to file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injury, there will be certain court costs you will be responsible for. If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your medical costs and lost wages. For a free evaluation of your case, please call First Coast personal injury lawyer John Fagan at (904) 278-6000.
It is virtually impossible to produce a reliably accurate estimate of the value of a personal injury claim until negotiations are winding down. There are numerous factors that may affect the ultimate value of your case, which your Florida personal injury attorney will describe to you in your initial meeting with him.
These factors generally fall under three categories: the expenses your injury incurred, the effect on your quality of life that your injury had, and how clear it is that the insured party is liable for your injuries. The most obvious expenses incurred by your injury are your medical bills. These include bills for treatment from a doctor, therapist, or other healthcare professional, as well as the costs of any medication, prescription or over-the-counter. It also includes miscellaneous costs, such as hospital stays and ambulance fees.
It is also important to note that the insurance companies give some medical expenses greater weight than others: bills from alternative medicine practitioners, for example, are given less weight than bills from licensed doctors.
If your injury kept you from working, the wages you missed out on will also factor into your claim value. If you used sick time or vacation time while you recovered from your injury, you may be able to factor that into your claim as well. Your injuries most likely had a serious impact on your quality of life.
If your injury prevents you performing your normal household routine and renders you incapable of doing the leisure activities you used to enjoy, your settlement value may increase.
Also, any permanent disfigurement or disability resulting from your injury will also increase the value of your case.
Finally, there is the question of liability. If your evidence that the insured is responsible for your injuries is strong, the insurance company is more likely to settle. However, if there is evidence to suggest that our own negligence contributed significantly to your injury, you can expect the insurance company to resist paying your claim.
Ultimately, you will need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to use these factors to your advantage while negotiating with the insurance companies. Call John Fagan today for a free initial consultation.
Your Florida personal injury attorney will make every effort to negotiate a fair settlement without you having to go to trial. However, there may be instances where a fair settlement is simply impossible and litigation is the only way you can get the money that you deserve.
This usually happens because the insurance company simply does not believe you deserve the money that your personal injury attorney is asking for. The most common reason that this would be the case is that the insurance company suspects that you are at least partially liable for your own accident.
If they have any suspicion that your own negligence contributed to your accident, the insurance company will likely be extremely resistant to settling. Sometimes, the insurance company may suspect you of exaggerating your injuries, especially if you have a soft tissue injury that leaves little verifiable evidence. This, too, will make insurance companies reluctant to settle.
Alternatively, the insurance company may just be stalling for time. Since the insurance company knows that waiting for settlement harms you more than it harms the insurer, it may simply be waiting for you to buckle. In such a case, a lawsuit is probably the only way to proceed with your claim.
Whatever the reason, a personal injury lawsuit will usually name the party responsible for your injury, instead of the insurance company, as the defendant. The only major exceptions to this rule are when the party that caused the claimants injury was underinsured. The insurance company will still be hurt by such a lawsuit, as people do not want insurance from a company that will allow them to be sued.
The procedure for initiating a personal injury lawsuit may vary from case to case. Your Florida personal injury attorney may suggest holding off on filing the lawsuit after announcing it, in hopes that the threat of a lawsuit might force the insurance company to reconsider its offer. However, the attorney must be ready to pull the trigger if the insurance company does not make a reasonable offer.
In these cases, the expertise of the Florida personal injury attorney is vital to getting you the money you deserve. Call experienced Florida persona injury attorney John Fagan today for a free initial consultation.
A personal injury journal can be a powerful tool if you are considering a personal injury lawsuit. The more specifically and accurately you are able to document your injuries, the more likely it is that you will be appropriately compensated for them.
If you choose to keep a journal, your Orange Park accident lawyer can advise you on the type of relevant information that should be included, and how these details may strengthen your case.
How strong is your personal injury case? An Orange Park injury lawyer wants you to be aware of some legal concepts and factors to help you proceed.
Liability and Negligence
Perhaps your case is a motor vehicle accident case, slip and fall case, disability case, or medical liability case. Regardless of the category, one of the main factors in any case is going to be liability. In other words, was the defendant negligent?
If it is clear and provable that the defendant is at fault, your settlement value goes up. But if negligence is more difficult to prove, the value of your case is significantly reduced. To gauge your likelihood of success, you might view liability in terms of a percentage. For example, if liability is high and it’s crystal clear, your case may have a 90% chance of winning, which is excellent. In the mid-range of 50% to 70%, odds are fair, while less than 50% is poor.
Car Accident Claim Questions
Hopefully you’ll never know how important preparation can be. But just in case, be sure you have these items in your glove box in the event you do find yourself the victim of a car accident.
- Driver’s license
- Proof of insurance
- Vehicle registration
- Cell phone
- Disposable camera
- Basic first aid kit
- Reflectors and/or flares
- Basic tool kit with screwdriver, pliers, etc.
- Jumper cables
- Fix a flat and/or a tire pump
- Important phone numbers such as the police, roadside assistance, etc.
- Note pad and pen
Stop your vehicle and pull off to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries. Engage in first aid if appropriate. If someone is seriously injured, don’t try to move him or her. Call 911 ASAP.
It’s important that injuries are tended to quickly and you must have the police available to help you document the accident properly. Get out your notepad and write down the time, date, weather and road conditions, a description of the vehicles involved, the car(s) license plate number, and notate any injuries or damages that you observe. Write down an account of what happened. Don’t worry about how well it is written, just write down what you remember happening as soon as you can. This is important because details can get mixed up later, so do this as soon as reasonably possible.
Take photos with your smart phone or disposable camera. Get pictures of any victims, the cars, the road condition, damage to either vehicle and so on. Make sure you get contact information for any eyewitnesses, officers on the scene and other professionals on the scene. Make sure you ask a copy of the police report. You will need to provide this to your insurance agent.
Contact your insurance company as soon as it is possible to do so to report the accident. If you think the other party is at fault, contact their insurance company as well. But, remember your rights! You are not required to give statements to the other insurance company.
And finally, contact an experienced, effective orange park accident lawyer to be sure that you get the fairest treatment allowed by the law.
No. Not before talking with your attorney. Accepting a check might be taken as a Not before speaking with an attorney. Accepting a check may be construed you’re your agreement to settle for that amount. It could prevent you from getting any additional amounts that you could be entitled to from the at-fault drive and/or their insurance company.
Yes and no. The law did expire on 10/10/07 but the requirement for Florida motor vehicle operators to carry personal injury protection, also known as PIP coverage, was reinstated on 1/1/2008.
In Florida, if you have PIP insurance, your PIP carrier might be required to pay the first $10,000 of any claim that is related the vehicle accident, regardless of fault.
His insurance company could be required to pay for your damages if he has bodily injury protection under his policy. They could also be responsible to hire an attorney to defend him if a suit is filed.
Florida Motorcycle Accident Questions
You might be eligible to file a claim. Making a left turn is almost always responsible for a collision when any vehicle is coming from the other direction. There are exceptions, such as if you were speeding, ran a red light or acted in a careless manner. In that instance, you might be held partially responsible as per Florida law.
No-Fault (PIP) law does not apply to motorcycles. Proof of insurance is not required to register your motorcycle. However, the Financial Responsibility Law still applies in the even of an accident.
If you are in a motorcycle accident and cannot prove that you have $10,000 of medical coverage you could face penalties and even loose your license. It is also recommended to purchase uninsured motorist insurance just to be sure your family is take care of as well. Purchase BI at least in the same amount. Most people would say $100,000 is the least amount of BI or UM anyone should carry.
Up until July of 2000, all motorcycle riders were required to wear a helmet. The law now is that riders over the age of 21 who have at least $10,000 in medical coverage can ride without a helmet. However we recommend anyone operating a motorcycle wear a helmet. It lowers the risk of a fatal injury by almost 30% and lowers the chance of brain injury by almost 70%. Ride smart.
Most motorcycle accidents are a combination of neglect, carelessness or a failure to act. The law requires that a people owe each other a duty to act how any responsible person would act under similar circumstances.
We will need to prove that the person who caused the accident failed in this duty to hold him or her responsible for your damages.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be wondering how the insurance company for the person who caused your injury will evaluate your claim. A First Coast motorcycle accident attorney may be able to answer specific questions about your case, but here is some general information on how insurance claims adjusters look at cases: A general rule of thumb is that the higher your medical bills are, the more your case is worth. However, if there is any suspicion that you have incurred unnecessary large medical expenses or that you went to a medical treatment “mill” to artificially increase your bills, the claims adjusters will be less likely to pay out.
To avoid this suspicion, select your primary treating doctor yourself instead of having your First Coast motorcycle accident attorney choose your doctor. Also have your treating doctor refer you to a board-certified specialist to confirm your course of treatment and future care. Adjusters will also take into account what your future medical bills are likely to be (insofar as such bills are predictable). Have your attorney get a doctor’s opinion and estimate about what your medical bills will be and send it to the insurance company during settlement negotiations.
Another factor is the amount of wages lost due to time off from work. You must be able to document this, through a written report from your doctor establishing your disability and for how long you were unable to work, and a note from your employer verifying your wages and time taken off (which must match the doctor’s report). Without these, the claims adjuster will likely refuse to include wage loss in your damages, especially if your claimed lost time is greater than expected for comparable injuries.
Similarly, the likelihood of future wage loss due to your injuries will be a factor. You might have future lost wages due to a permanent disability, expected future hospitalizations or surgeries, and time off for other treatments such as physical therapy.
Have your First Coast motorcycle accident attorney obtain a written medical opinion establishing these expected costs to use in settlement negotiations. If you have more questions about how to proceed with your case, contact John Fagan for a free evaluation of your claim.
Tractor Trailer Accident Questions
The main difference is weight. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh upwards of 70,000 pounds, compared to a car, which usually weighs 3,000 pounds. This means that the consequences of a truck accident can be much worse a regular car accident. A trucking accident lawsuit is also handled quite differently. There are more parties involved and different regulations to follow.
If a large truck is used to transport goods and/or supplies, it can be considered a commercial truck. Semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, panel vans, delivery trucks, tankers, dump trucks and other similar large vehicles could all be considered commercial trucks.
In these sorts of accidents, you are allowed to file a claim in either state the accident occurred or in the state that the trucking company does business in or is located in.
Yes. The there are guidelines that trucking companies must follow. The Dept. of Transportation’s FMSCA regulates the federal trucking rules for the U.S. trucking industry. Federal trucking laws are also supplemented by laws established in the state of Florida by the Florida Dept. of Transportation. Some of the things regulated are as such:
- Amount of hours that truck drivers can operate
- truck driver qualifications
- trucking company’s safety guidelines
- size limitations such as weight and width
- emission and noise standards
- truck maintenance and repairs
- truck inspections
If the truck driver is under the employ of a trucking company, then you might be able to file a claim against the company directly. However, many truck drivers are contractors, not employees. In that instance it might be more difficult to prove the trucking company was involved in any wrongdoing.
Work Accident Questions
Not generally. The workers’ compensation system is normally how you would go about being compensated for work injuries. However, if the employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, then it might be possible to sue them directly.
You should report it as soon as possible but no later than thirty days or your claim may be denied.
Your employer should report the injury as soon as possible, but no later than seven (7) days after their knowledge. The insurance company must send you an informational brochure within three (3) days after receiving notice from your employer. The brochure will explain your rights and responsibilities, as well as provide additional information about the workers’ compensation law. A copy of the brochure can be viewed on this website under “Publications”.
Yes, if they have 4 or more employees, they are required to have this coverage.
You have the right to report the injury to their insurance company.
Unfortunately, the insurance carrier is normally given choice of doctors. You can request to choose a specialist (such as a cardiologist or orthopedist), but this is usually a one-time change for medical reasons only.
No. These kinds of policies do not cover accidents at work and the worker’s comp carrier is under no obligation to follow any instructions a doctor of your own issues.
Under Florida law, you are not paid for the first seven days of disability. However, if you lose time because your disability extends to over 21 days, the insurance company may pay you for the first seven days.
In most cases, your benefit check, which is paid bi-weekly, will be 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage. If you were injured before October 1, 2003, this amount is calculated by using wages earned during the 91-day period immediately preceding the date of your injury, not to exceed the state limit.
If you worked less than 90% of the 91-day period, the wages of a similar employee in the same employment who has worked the whole of the 91-day period or your full-time weekly wage may be used.
If you were injured on or after October 1, 2003, your average weekly wage is calculated using wages earned 13 weeks prior to your injury, not counting the week in which you were injured.
In addition, if you worked less than 75% of the 13-week period, a similar employee in the same employment who has worked 75% of the 13-week period or your full time weekly wage shall be used.
No. However, if you go back to work on light or limited duty and are still under the care of the authorized doctor, you will pay taxes on any wages earned while working.
For additional information on Income Tax, you may want to visit the Internal Revenue Service website at: www.irs.gov
The law provides, at no cost to you, reemployment services to help you return to work. Services include vocational counseling, transferable skills analysis, job-seeking skills, job placement, on-the-job training, and formal retraining.
To find out more about this program, you may contact the Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services at (850) 245-3470.
You are responsible for your future medical needs after your claim for medical benefits is settled. This is why it is extremely important to be sure you get a fair settlement and why hiring an experienced SSDI attorney is always a good idea.
In Florida, an injured worker has the right to select a pharmacy or pharmacist. Florida law prohibits interference with your right to choose a pharmacy or pharmacist. However, a pharmacy is not required to participate in the workers’ compensation program.
If at any time, you become dissatisfied with your pharmacy or pharmacist’s services, you can seek another pharmacy to fill your prescriptions.
SSDI – Disability Law Questions
Yes, but if you are turned down, you still have 60 days to appeal. If you don’t appeal with that time, you could loose your rights to your benefits. Letting this deadline pass is, by far, the biggest mistake one could make.
Your county health department will assist you. Visit the Florida Department of Health for more info.
Lawyers fees are limited to 25% of the award of your past due benefits. This means that a quarter of those benefits that have been sitting they’re building up since you were found disabled and the time the benefits are actually paid. The SSA can also cap that amount to be less than that, if it is in excess of $25.000. Regardless, these fees will not come out of your current monthly benefits.
You can receive your benefits for at least 9 months after you go back to work. If you can’t continue working past this date, you will still receive your benefits. In addition, Medicare will still continue for 8.5 years after you go back to work. This is to help you feel more comfortable trying to get back in the workplace without the fear of losing your benefits in case it’s not possible.
Not initially. But if you have been denied, then you might want to find legal representation to help you prepare for an appeal.
To be eligible for SSD benefits, a person must be unable to do any kind of gainful work because of a mental or physical illness or impairment, which is expected either to last at least a year, or is expected to end in death.
Slip and Fall Accident Questions
“Slip and fall” is a type of personal injury case where a person slips, trips and/or falls, and is injured on someone else’s property. Slip and fall accidents usually occur on property owned or maintained by another, and the owner or possessor of the property can be held responsible. Dangerous conditions like uneven floors, torn carpet, poor lighting, wet floors, narrow stairs, can all contribute to someone getting hurt.
In order to prove that a property owner knew of a dangerous condition, it must be shown that:
- The owner/possessor created the dangerous condition
- They knew that the condition existed and neglectfully failed to correct it
- The condition existed for a long enough time that the owner reasonably should have known about the condition and have corrected it
In order to recover for a slip and fall injury, there must be someone responsible for causing the injury. Many people do not realize that some injuries are simply accidents caused by their own carelessness. For instance, if someone trips because he was not looking where he was going, he cannot sue the property owner. An injured person might still be able to recover if the owner is proven to be partly responsible, but the amount awarded would be less.
Landlords may also be held accountable to tenants and/or third parties for slip, trip and fall injuries. To hold a landlord responsible, you must show that:
- The landlord could control the conditions that caused the injury
- Repairing the issue would not have been too expensive and/or difficult
- It was foreseeable that an injury would occur if the condition was not fixed
- The landlord failed to take reasonable actions steps to avoid the condition
Take notes about the incident and your injuries. The two main things that are important are:
- What exactly happened to give rise to the claim?
- What kind of injury/harm was incurred?
We realize that taking notes will most likely be the last thing on your mind after a such an experience, but remember that it will help you with your case and help you prove your injuries.
As soon as you can, write down everything you can think of that relates to what exactly happened before, during, and after the incident that led to your injury, such as: time and place, weather conditions, who was there, what was said and by who, how it all played out, what you experienced, how you felt, and anything else that might be important.
Medical and Hospital Malpractice Questions
Medical malpractice is defined as negligence committed by a professional health care provider that is not up to the acceptable standards of care as defined by others in the industry with similar experience, such as a doctor, dentist, hospital, nurse, and similarly trained health care professionals.
Yes, it is highly advisable to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney. These kinds of cases are very difficult and complex and can become quite expensive. Having an attorney who knows what he is doing can mitigate the time and/or costs involved in winning your case.
- Medical expenses for treating your injuries
- damages for pain and suffering
- disfigurement / disability damages
- lost wages
- ability to earn wages in the future
Medical malpractice is not limited to just doctors. It also applies to nurses, dentists, physical therapists, hospital workers, health care facilities, and other similar facilities, such as nursing homes.
- If I am unable to pay my medical bills as they are incurred, will my healthcare providers wait for payment?
When an injured plaintiff has no immediate ability to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many healthcare providers will agree to wait for payment after the personal injury claim is finally resolved via settlement or trial. It is important to inform medical providers that you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred; this allows for alternative arrangements to be made. First Coast injury attorney John Fagan may be able to help you effectively deal with your medical providers.
- How does my lawyer make sure that my doctors and hospitals are paid?
Once a settlement or court verdict is reached, most lawyers will withhold some of that money to pay your doctors and hospitals. Many healthcare providers will actually require that you sign a form (a subrogation or lien form) that allows the attorney to withhold sufficient money from any recovery to pay your medical bills.
- Why won’t the insurance company for the defendant just pay my medical bills as I incur them?Generally, insurance companies for the tortfeasor (the person(s) or company that caused your injuries) will not automatically pay your medical bills. One reason is that they do not want to pay large medical bills and then be faced with an unreasonable or excessive final settlement demand. In other words, they do not want to expend a substantial sum of money on medical bills and then be faced with the expense of defending a lawsuit. Second, insurance companies prefer to settle the claim with one single payment. Therefore, most insurance companies will wait for a letter of demand from your attorney and attempt to settle case with a single lump sum payment.
Contact First Coast injury attorney John Fagan for questions about your personal injury case.
Florida Dog Bite Law Questions
Yes, typically a homeowner’s insurance policy covers most dog bite injuries.
In some instances a sign like this can prove that you alerted others to the presense of a dog on your premises. However, your case will be investigated to determine if there is truly any liability based on the facts of the claim.
- The identity of the dog owner
- If that particular dog did, in fact, bite the victim
- That the victim was lawfully in a public or private place, which is also the property of the owner of the dog
- If the bite actually caused your injury and suffering
- If the dog has any past record of biting in the past
- All medical treatment associated with the bite, such as ambulance, emergency room, first aid, prescriptions, etc.
- Future medical treatment for possible scaring
- Counseling for emotional trauma caused by a vicious dog attack
- Loss of wages due to the injuries
- Items damaged in the attack, such as broken cell phones, ripped clothing, broken glasses, etc.