Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Accidents
Getting involved in an accident can be traumatic, and many people are not aware of the steps they should take if they have sustained injuries. Our Tampa personal injury lawyers at Rebein Law Tampa’s Personal Injury Lawyers are well aware of the challenges that accident victims face. Injury victims can count on us to support them each step of the way as they rebuild their lives after an accident.
Our Tampa personal injury attorneys recognize that you may have a number of questions following an unfortunate accident. This is why we have compiled a guide for your convenience.
Here are some of the most common questions that we get asked by clients who are harmed in accidents in Tampa and across the state of Florida.
What Should I Do if I Am Injured in a Personal Injury Accident?
The time immediately following an accident can be quite overwhelming. However, you must remain at the scene of the accident. It is crucial that you take various steps to ensure your legal rights and best interests are protected. You will want to contact the police immediately. A police report is extremely valuable, especially when it comes to recovering compensation and receiving justice. If you are able to, you will want to take pictures of the scene of the accident. If it is an auto accident, take pictures of the area where the accident occurred and all vehicles involved. If you were involved in a premises liability accident, take care of the ground or other conditions that led to your accident. You will want to also take pictures of any resulting injuries you have.
Obtain the names and contact information of anyone at the scene. This includes others involved in the accident and witnesses. It is important to also gather insurance information from other parties as well.
Seek medical attention quickly. Even if you do not feel like you are hurt, the pain may be masked by adrenalin. In some instances, injuries may have a delayed onset of symptoms. Seeking medical care as soon as possible is critical when it comes to ensuring you are safe.
Finally, you will want to reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Tampa as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation that you can use to cover various costs you face.
What Is A “Personal Injury” Lawsuit?
Personal injury claims are filed in civil court and have nothing to do with any criminal proceedings (however some cases can involve criminal acts that are charged separately). Personal injury lawsuits are filed by victims in order to assign fault to another person who caused them harm. Once fault is assigned, these lawsuits help victims obtain compensation from the parties who are deemed to be at fault for the accident. If a case involves criminal acts, a conviction does not generally have an impact on a civil case.
How Do I Know If I Have A Case?
If you have been harmed in any type of accident, the best way to determine if you have a personal injury case is by consulting with an attorney as soon as possible.Our team will be able to review the circumstances surrounding your accident and quickly determine whether there are legal options available to help you recover.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, and the type of accident you were involved in, there may be one or more parties who can be held liable for your injuries and damages.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
People who are harmed in accidents in the state of Florida have a period of up to four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. There is no exception to this rule. Additionally, if you are filing a lawsuit against the city, county, or state of Florida, the statute of limitations is shortened to three years from the date of the accident.
Although you have ample time to file a lawsuit against a negligent party, it is in your best interest to file a claim as soon as possible. Waiting to take legal action can result in the loss of evidence, unreachable witnesses, and have other negative impacts on your ability to build the strongest case possible.
Why Was My Personal Injury Case Turned Down?
A lawyer may refuse to take your case for a variety of reasons. A refusal, in itself, does not mean that you do not have a valid case. In some instances, lawyers reject lawsuits due to having limited time and resources.
Some lawyers will refuse cases because they are inexperienced to handle the type of personal injury cases victims have. It is important that you schedule another consultation with a different attorney who can review the circumstances of your accident and determine if they are willing to represent you.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
It is nearly impossible to determine ahead of time how much you can expect to recover for your personal injury lawsuit. There are various factors that are taken into consideration. Some things that determine how much you are going to recover from a lawsuit include:
- The extent of your injuries and how they impact your life
- How much medical care do you require now and in the future
- If you are able to return to work
In general, victims can recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages following their accidents. Some of the economic damages victims are able to recover include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Long-term care expenses
- Property damage (vehicle repairs, house repairs, etc.)
- Lost earning capacity
Some of the non-economic damages victims are able to recover include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent scarring
Is There a Cap on Damages That Can be Recovered for My Lawsuit?
Generally speaking, there is no cap, or limit, on the amount of non-economic damages a victim can recover following their accident.
The amount of economic damages is based on the extent of expenses you incur from your accident. This amount is set by how much you were economically impacted by your accident.
The only limit that is imposed on a Florida personal injury lawsuit is the amount of compensation that you can recover for punitive damages. This amount can be equal to three times the amount of compensatory damages for your claim, with a maximum amount of $500,000.
How do I Pay My Medical Bills until I Get My Settlement?
Because you will not recover any compensation until a settlement agreement or a verdict is reached, which can take several months or even years, you will need to find another way to cover the costs of medical expenses and other damages you face.
Thankfully, there are some options available that can help you. If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on your insurance policy, you can use this coverage for health care expenses and other costs you face. Additionally, your healthcare insurance policy should provide you relief as well. If you do not have insurance or have costs that exceed your coverage limits, there are some companies that offer settlement funding for victims who will then collect the money after a settlement is received.
In some cases, your attorney can help you find a doctor or hospital that is able to treat you with an agreement to be paid back after a settlement is received.
Why Can’t I Just Settle with the Insurance Company Without Filing Anything in Court?
In most cases, insurance companies will approach victims and offer them compensation in an amount far lower than what they need and deserve.
Rushing to accept a settlement can prevent you from filing a legal claim in the future. In many cases, victims endure tens of thousands of dollars in expenses. For this reason, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney before accepting any insurance settlement offers.
Our Tampa personal injury lawyers will help you negotiate full and fair compensation that you can use to alleviate the financial burdens you face. If you are unable to come to a settlement agreement, we will help you fight in court to recover the compensation you need and deserve.
Do I Have To Go To Court for My Personal Injury Case?
The majority of personal injury claims in Florida are settled without having to go to court.
However, there are instances where the settlement amount offered is not enough to cover the damages that victims endure. If this happens in your case, you will be required to go to court.
Our Tampa personal injury legal team will remain by your side every step of the way and fight to help you achieve the outcome you expect.
What is Mediation?
In a Florida personal injury lawsuit, mediation is a process that is often used for settlement negotiations. During mediation, a neutral person, referred to as a mediator, will help parties work through their disputes with the goal of achieving a settlement agreement. Mediation provides various benefits for victims, including:
- Mediation takes place outside of a courtroom, which can help ease some of the anxiety all parties experience.
- A third-party mediator will manage the process but is unable to make a legal decision regarding the case.
- Mediation encourages direct communication between victims and defendants.
- You, as a victim, have more control over the process because there is no judge or jury present.
Mediation is designed with the primary purpose of reaching an agreement without having to spend extensive time and money.
Victims, defendants, and their lawyers will meet with the mediator to discuss the details of the case and provide each party a chance to express their concerns and the potential outcomes.
If an agreement is made during mediation, the mediator can help draft the necessary documents.
What Happens if the Defendant’s Lawyer Contacts Me?
If an attorney for the defendant or their insurance company contacts you, it is important that you do not speak with them. Inform them that your attorney is handling your case and provide them with contact information.
Defendants will do all that they can to trick you into taking the blame for the accident or accepting a settlement offer. It is best to avoid being victimized in this way by avoiding communication altogether.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit if I Have Pre-existing conditions?
Having pre-existing conditions does not disqualify you from filing a personal injury lawsuit after being involved in an accident.
There is a chance that an accident can cause new injuries that you did not have previously. There is also a chance that the accident could aggravate the pre-existing conditions or injuries and make them work. A skilled legal team can view the circumstances surrounding your accident and help you to determine what legal options are available.
It is crucial that you never hide pre-existing conditions that you are dealing with. Hiding that you have pre-existing injuries and conditions can have very negative consequences on your case later on.
What is Comparative Negligence?
The state of Florida follows the pure comparative negligence law (please note that Florida also has a no-fault insurance rule, which is separate from comparative negligence).
Pure comparative fault laws specify that a person is able to recover damages following an accident that are proportional to their percentage of fault for an accident.
If a victim contributed to their accident in any way, a court will determine the percentage of fault they maintain. A person who is deemed partially at fault will have their damages reduced in the amount in which they are at fault.
For example, if a victim was deemed 10% at fault for their accident, and the court awarded $100,000 for their damages, they would only be able to recover $90,000 of the award.
What is the “No-Fault” Rule in Florida?
When it comes to car insurance, Florida is considered a “no-fault” state. This means that the insurance claims process is designed to be more efficient after being harmed in an accident as your own insurance will generally cover your medical bills and other economic losses.
If the cost of damages exceeds the limits of your policy, you may be able to recover compensation elsewhere. Working with a skilled legal team will ensure you are able to get the maximum amount of compensation you need to cover the damages you face from your accident.
Do I Need a lot of Money Upfront to Hire a Lawyer for My Personal Injury Case?
Rebein Law takes cases on a contingency basis. No money is needed by clients upfront for personal injury cases. Instead, we will retain a portion of the compensation that is recovered from a lawsuit.
If we are not able to prevail on your personal injury case, there is no cost to you. This payment structure allows people to take quick legal action without having the financial resources readily available to do so.
How Long Will it Take for Me to Settle My Lawsuit?
There is no way to predict how long it will take for you to recover compensation for your personal injury lawsuit.
There are various factors that determine the longevity of the case. A claim that involves more serious injuries or complex legal issues can take significantly longer to settle. This is generally because insurance companies will fight harder against paying you the compensation you rightfully deserve.
There are instances where insurance companies are willing to settle cases quickly. It is important to recognize whether a quick settlement is in your best interest.
Having a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Tampa by your side can help speed up the process and help you better understand all of your legal rights. However, a case can still take several months or even years, especially if it goes to trial.
How Long Will it Take to Get My Check?
After you settle your lawsuit, or a verdict is reached, it generally does not take long to recover the compensation for your damages.
In some cases, it can take a couple of weeks after the agreement is signed. However, it could arrive sooner. Your lawyer will subtract their fees, court costs, and various other deductions that you discussed at the beginning of your case. Your lawyer will then send you a check for the remaining amount.
Let’s Get You On Your Way Forward
Our team of Personal Injury Lawyers is ready to help you.