When you are injured in an accident, you will have questions – medical questions, questions about what you should do next, questions about how to cover the costs of your injuries, and questions about what legal recourse is available to you as an injured victim.
The Florida Law Group’s elite team of personal injury lawyers has been helping injured accident victims fight for justice since 1984. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Because we have successfully achieved optimal outcomes for so many clients, we have extensive personal injury litigation experience. During the free consultations we offer, here are 15 of the most frequently asked personal injury questions that we receive!
- What should I do after an accident?
- How do I know if I have a personal injury case?
- What type of case is considered personal injury?
- How much is my personal injury case worth?
- Do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer?
- How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
- What should I look for in a personal injury lawyer?
- How long will it take to settle my claim?
- How long will it take to get my check?
- What if I was partly responsible for the accident?
- What if no one was responsible for my accident?
- How do I pay my medical bills until I get my settlement?
- Can pre-existing conditions affect my personal injury case?
- How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
- Will my case go to trial?
The very first thing you should do is to contact law enforcement. Regardless of the accident type, how you feel, or what the other party involved suggests, it is always beneficial to get an accident report and have law enforcement on the scene to help.
Next, seek medical attention immediately, whether or not you “feel” hurt. Adrenaline may be preventing you from feeling the full extent of your injuries, and some injuries can take days to present themselves. It is important to have a full medical examination by a medical professional.
While you are still at the scene, if you are able, take pictures, which can prove helpful later. Never admit fault; even if you think the accident was your fault, you are not in a position to know all of the details at the time of the accident, and saying phrases like “I’m sorry” can be used against you in a personal injury case. Get the contact details and insurance information of anyone involved in the accident (law enforcement can help facilitate this).
You are not obligated to give a statement to your insurance adjuster if they call you. Once you have been treated or assessed by a medical professional, you should contact an attorney who can guide you through the next steps.
Unfortunately, simply being injured in an accident does not mean that you have a personal injury case. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to definitively tell you whether or not you do, but generally, you must be able to prove three things: that another party was negligent, that their negligence caused your injury, and that the injury resulted in compensatory damages. Depending on your specific circumstances, proving negligence and causation can be quite complex, so it is important to consult with an attorney before making any assumptions about your personal injury case.
Personal injury cases are civil cases. A personal injury lawsuit seeks to assign fault to another party and make that party pay money to the victim. It’s not like a criminal case, where the responsible party is convicted of a crime and goes to jail, although criminal and personal injury cases can overlap (for example, a drunk driver hits another vehicle and causes severe injuries; they will be tried criminally first, but they can also be tried civilly and financial damages can be paid out to the victims).
Many types of cases fall under the “personal injury” umbrella: motor vehicle accidents, public transportation accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog bite accidents, defective product accidents, and more.
How much your personal injury case is worth will depend on many factors related to your unique case and is impossible to determine until you have spoken with a personal injury attorney (who can only give you an estimate until more research has been conducted). A lawyer cannot guarantee a certain amount, but they can tell you what your case may be worth, which is likely much more than your insurance company has led you to believe. Factors that affect the value of your case may include the severity and longevity of your injuries, whether or not you live in a no-fault state, what insurance companies you and the responsible party are insured by, the personal assets of the responsible party, and the details surrounding the accident.
Short answer – yes!
Longer answer – It is always a good idea to work with an attorney if you were injured in an accident. Research shows that plaintiffs who hire personal injury lawyers to represent them and handle their case have a higher likelihood of payout, settle cases faster, receive higher amounts, and are more satisfied (on average) than plaintiffs who attempt to negotiate or recover damages on their own.
When you are injured, it is difficult to focus on healing and deal with insurance companies and medical bills at the same time. You don’t know all of your options or what your case is truly worth. If your case is complex, or if there are large costs involved, or if you just want sound legal guidance, hiring a personal injury lawyer is the way to go.
Personal injury lawyers charge different amounts based on location and firm history. Many lawyers, like The Florida Law Group, charge on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there are no upfront fees, and you only have to pay them if they win and recover a settlement. Then, their fee is a percentage of that settlement. Obviously, this will vary depending on the specific case in question. It’s important to speak with the lawyer before they take your case and ensure that you are on the same page about how much their services will cost.
A good personal injury lawyer will have a good reputation. They will have been recognized by prestigious legal organizations for their work, and they will have enthusiastic, stellar reviews from clients that they have been able to help. They will be able to tell you about results they’ve achieved for other cases in the past. The personal injury law firm you should choose will communicate with you, demonstrate that they have the knowledge and expertise you need, and prove that they have the resources you need to win your case. If a prospective lawyer cannot tell you anything specific about the results that they have been able to achieve for past injured victims, does not have reviews or does not have good reviews, and does not have any certifications or achievements or recognitions, they are probably not the right lawyer for your case.
This depends on the specific details of your case, and can be incredibly hard to predict. However, the majority of personal injury cases are settled out-of-court, which is faster than a trial. A claim that involves more serious injuries or complex liability issues will take longer to settle; insurance companies will fight it harder. Sometimes insurers offer a quick settlement because they know the case is worth more but injured accident victims can’t afford to wait; this is an unfair move, and the right personal injury attorney will help you guard against it. Having an attorney on your side will speed up the process, but it could still take months or years, especially if it does go to trial.
After a settlement or verdict has been reached, it will not take long to get the monetary damages from your personal injury case – perhaps a couple weeks after the agreement has been signed but it could be sooner. Your lawyer will subtract their fees, court costs, and other necessary deductions, and then send you a check for the remaining amount.
The answer to this frequently asked question depends on the state in which you live. In a few states, there is a contributory negligence rule, which prevents victims from recovering damages if they were at fault in any way. In most other states, comparative negligence comes into play; the damages victims can recover are proportionate to the degree of fault. For example, if $100,000 was awarded and you were only 30% at fault for the accident, you could receive 70% of the damages ($70,000). If there are multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants involved, the situation becomes more complex. If you believe or know that you were partially at fault for the accident, it is important to consult an attorney who can educate you on the state laws.
At a first glance, it may seem that no one is at fault for your accident. This may be the case, but it could also be true that you simply don’t have all of the information, and there was actually someone to blame for your injuries. For example, if you slipped and fell at a restaurant, you may think you are just clumsy, but an investigation could reveal a wet spot on the floor that was not clearly marked. If a window breaks in your office during a storm, shattering you with glass, you may think it was a freak act of nature, but an investigation could reveal that your employer did not adequately secure the building. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether or not someone is liable for your injuries.
Because you will not recover damages until a settlement agreement is reached, which could take months or years, you will need to find an alternative way to cover the cost of your injuries initially, but you do have options. If you have PIP insurance coverage, these benefits can be used, as well as regular health insurance coverage. If you were injured on the job, workers’ compensation benefits may apply. If you don’t have insurance or have more costs, there are some companies that offer pre-settlement funding for victims, who pay them back after receiving a settlement. If none of these options are available to you, your personal injury lawyer can help you find a doctor or hospital who can agree to treat you with the agreement that they will be paid back after you receive a settlement.
Regardless of what pre-existing medical conditions you had, you can still legally seek damages from a defendant who is liable for your injuries. However, these types of cases can be more complicated; your insurer or the defendant’s insurer may try to reduce your settlement to account for the pre-existing condition even if they aggravated it, which is why hiring a lawyer to advocate for you is so important.
This is another matter that varies by state. In Florida, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim is four years. Because various factors can delay filing, it is advisable to contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible!
Only about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial; the other 95% settle out of court. It is unlikely that your case will make it to trial, but if it does, you need to rely on a personal injury lawyer who is not intimidated by court.
Have more questions? Call The Florida Law Group today! We offer free consultations to help you feel confident in your personal injury case.