- Do I need a lawyer?
- If somebody else causes an accident, am I automatically entitled to receive compensation for my injuries?
- Who is responsible for my medical expenses?
- What types of insurance should I have?
- Is bodily injury liability insurance required in Florida?
- How long will my case take?
- What are the attorney's fees?
- If my case must go to court, how long will it take?
- How much money can we settle for?
Do I need a lawyer?
The Florida No Fault Law is extremely complex. It is filled with pitfalls for the unwary and the paperwork required to timely and appropriately process a claim can be a great burden, particularly if you are not feeling well. Studies have proven that clients who are represented by attorneys routinely receive a higher net recovery. We have had experiences where clients have attempted to represent him or herself for some time until they finally receive a low ball offer for their injuries from the insurance carrier and then attempt to obtain counsel. In many cases, we are unable to assist these individuals at that time. Legal representation can help remove the burden of the paperwork, while being assured that your financial recovery will be maximized.
If somebody else causes an accident, am I automatically entitled to receive compensation for my injuries?
In most cases, your injury must be of a permanent nature. In other words, a physician, in all likelihood, your treating doctor, must ultimately have the opinion that your injuries were and are permanent in order to allow you to recover for pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, and other intangible losses. If you have received a scar, the scar must be considered significant in order to reach this threshold to enable financial recovery for the above losses.
Who is responsible for my medical expenses?
Since Florida is a no-fault state, everybody's own insurance company is responsible for paying their own medical expenses and wage losses. The standard policy has $10,000 of no-fault or PIP benefits available to each member of the insured's household. Many people elect no-fault deductibles, the most frequent deductible is $1,000. Under our no-fault system, in most cases, the other driver who caused the accident is not responsible for your medical expenses, or, only a portion of them not covered by your own no-fault insurance.
What types of insurance should I have?
Everyone should have as much bodily injury insurance as you can reasonably afford. It is essential that you have at least as much uninsured motorist protection as bodily injury insurance. If you have more than one vehicle, you should have stacking of your uninsured motorist coverage, which means you can double or triple your uninsured motorist benefits with very little additional expense. Further, you should never elect a no-fault deductible.
Is bodily injury liability insurance required in Florida?
No. Believe it or not, people are not required to carry injury liability insurance if they cause an injury to you. This is why uninsured motorist insurance is essential. The only insurance required in Florida is property damage liability and some form of no-fault insurance, not bodily injury insurance.
How long will my case take?
This certainly depends upon your recovery. Generally, we never attempt to settle a case until our client has reached maximum medical improvement. This means that all of the treating physicians have done everything they can to bring the person back as close as possible to their pre-accident status. This is the point where no additional regular medical care or therapy will make the person any better, a point where the person is not going to get significantly better or worse in the future. At this point, we request a narrative report from the treating physicians and ask them to address such diverse issues as whether additional treatment or surgery may be required in the future, what medications may be required, whether our client's job may be impacted presently or in the future, and to what extent our client's injuries are permanent and continuing in nature.
What are the attorney's fees?
Our firm charges a standard 33 1/3% of the gross recovery if the claim is settled and 40% if litigation is required. While our contract is impossible to summarize in a short space, generally most cases fall within the above categories. Please see the actual contract for details or feel free to meet with us so that we can answer your specific questions.
If my case must go to court, how long will it take?
We usually advise clients that if we are unable to settle their case over the telephone and are required to file a lawsuit, this generally takes about 9 months to one year from the time of filing. We always notify our clients before we file a lawsuit to obtain their permission and complete understanding. We also generally make an attempt to settle cases amicably, but there are exceptions to this rule.
How much money can we settle for?
This is the most frequently asked question and it really does vary from case to case. In general, the more serious and permanent the injuries, the more value the case has. Other factors include, but are not limited to, how the injury will affect the person's ability to make a living, how much future medical care will be required, how many out-of-pocket expenses there are, and/or how disfiguring the appearance of any scarring may be. A person's age is a factor as well, although every person has a right to recover for pain and suffering, irrespective of age. Our experience in resolving or trying thousands of cases assists us in determining a full and fair value of each case, no matter how unique. Maximum results for clients require maximum effort of their attorney.