Attorney David I. Fuchs
Apr. 5, 2018
Car accident claims in Florida can be complex and require shrewd litigation. When choosing which lawyer is best to represent you, ask certain questions during your free consultation. The questions you ask and how the attorney answers them can give you a clearer picture of what to expect from working with the firm, as well as how your claim might reach a resolution. Write down these five questions to ask your prospective car accident lawyer.
Your first question is pretty straightforward. Give the lawyer a brief overview of your car accident, including the extent of you or your loved one’s injuries and who you believe is at fault. Legal consultations are completely confidential, so don’t worry about the attorney giving any of this information to insurance companies or other parties. Ask the lawyer if he/she believes you have grounds to file a lawsuit. In Florida, the only time someone can file a claim outside of the state’s no-fault insurance system is if the person’s injuries are serious enough. In general, permanent injuries, long-term disabilities, and scarring will qualify for lawsuits.
It’s important for you to fully grasp the lawyer’s fee structure before signing a contract or agreeing to retain the attorney. Most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency-fee basis. This means their attorney fees are contingent upon you winning your lawsuit. If you don’t win, you don’t pay. The average fee schedule is one-third (or 33.33%) of your settlement or judgment award. This rate might increase, however, depending on the amount of work the attorney must do on your case. If you go to trial, for example, fees might increase.
Learning your timeline to file is crucial to the success of your claim. The Florida courts maintain strict deadlines for bringing a claim. If you miss this time limit, odds are the courts will refuse to hear your claim. Even if the courts agree, the defendant will file a motion to dismiss on the grounds that you missed the statute of limitations. In Florida, most car accident victims have four years from the date of the accident to file. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible, however, as there are exceptions to the rule. Filing against a government agency, for example, typically only comes with six months to file a notice.
Ask your attorney what your case is likely worth. Evaluating your claim right from the beginning can help you stay realistic about what you could get from a lawsuit. Awards may differ depending on a settlement vs. judgment award. Compare what the attorney tells you about what an insurance company recently offered you. Help from an attorney can almost always get better case results. Most car accident lawsuits can result in recovery for related medical costs, property damage repairs, lost income, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Finally, ask what steps you can take right away to protect your rights. Your attorney might recommend that you don’t admit fault or accept a settlement when on the phone with insurance claims adjusters. It might also help to start gathering information about your cases, such as copies of your medical records and police reports. Your lawyer can take care of other aspects of your claim for you, such as preserving evidence and beginning the filing process.