Many of our clients come to our firm unsure of the legal process or how personal injury law works. We’ve compiled a few of the most common questions together with brief explanations so you can understand your rights and responsibilities.
Without legal counsel or representation, it is easy for insurance claims adjustors to trap uncertain plaintiffs. Personal injury cases often involve at least one insurance company-paid lawyer, whose job it is to disprove your claim and find a way out of liability. Because of this, your best tool is the experienced aide of an attorney who will represent you.
Initial consultations with a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer are generally free, such as here at the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs. Beyond that, it is common practice to pay with contingency-fee contracts, where your attorney receives payment out of the settlement package from a case. In these cases, you will only pay if you win.
Damages are more than an arbitrary lump sum paid for a case; they represent the financial losses from an injury. Medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain, and suffering are common types of damages.
Legally, negligence refers to behaviors that knowingly violate the legal expectations of a person’s conduct. In other words, someone is negligent if he or she willfully endangers someone else through his or her actions or inaction.
Florida is one of a handful of states that are “no-fault” when it comes to auto insurance. This means that, after an accident, the state and insurance companies do not consider fault as a factor for the police report or damage claim. This makes it harder for plaintiffs to recover damages from car crashes, as the intent is for insurance companies to pay for injuries. It does not bar someone from pressing charges, however, especially in cases of uninsured motorists or severe negligence.
Even if the police do not ascribe blame at the time of an accident, car accident attorneys and insurance companies can carefully reconstruct the scene of a crash to determine how it occurred. This means they can assign negligence even after the incident itself. It is important to note, however, that in cases where it is clear that both parties share some blame, this can reduce the number of damages the plaintiff receives.
Most insurance providers require you to inform them of any accidents. Failing to do so can result in loss of coverage. Keep in mind there is no guarantee your insurance premiums will go up after an accident. It is better to let the company know than try to hide the issue.
In any accident that results in injury, major property damage or death, the police must be informed and draft a police report. Even in cases where the police don’t require one, it is valuable to have a police report on hand – as it is one of the most important pieces of evidence in personal injury lawsuits. The police will gather testimony and conclude fault after an accident, which the insurance companies expect to see after a claim.
Whenever an accident injures a passenger, that injured person can file damages against both drivers. Depending on which driver(s) is at fault, the passenger is eligible for compensation from the negligent party’s insurance.
Personal injury claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations in the state of Florida against the negligent, or at fault, party. Additionally, there is a five-year statute of limitations on filing an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance provider.