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Personal Injury Cases
  • Is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount?
  • No, there is no minimum or maximum settlement amount. The amount of a settlement in a personal injury case depends on lots of factors, including:
    - The nature and extent of the injury,
    - The amount of economic damages (such as lost wages and medical bills)
    - The amount of time the injury is expected to last
    If you’re trying to put a value on a specific case, it would be a good idea to check with a lawyer near you.

  • Are medical bills included in a bodily injury claim?
  • The term “bodily injury claim” usually refers to a “personal injury claim”. “Economic damages” would include, but aren’t limited to:
    - Lost wages
    - Medical bills
    - Rental car expenses, etc.
    - General damages include:
    - Pain
    - Suffering
    - Humiliation
    - Distress
    If you settle your bodily injury claim, it must include all the types of damages available to you, or you’ll likely lose your right to recover for those losses.

  • Do lawyers receive their fee percent before or after the medical expenses are paid?
  • The attorney’s fees paid will be based on the retainer agreement between you and your lawyer. Read the contract carefully. Some retainer agreements provide that attorney’s fees are calculated on the gross settlement (before the medical bills are paid) and some provide for payment of fees after medical expenses are paid (the “net” amount).

  • Can my lawyer settle my personal injury case without my consent?
  • It’s possible that the retainer agreement you signed with your lawyer allows him to settle the case without your consent and sign the settlement and release agreement on your behalf. If your attorney settled the case without your permission, and you haven’t yet signed the settlement and release agreement, you should tell your lawyer that you don’t want to proceed with the settlement if you’re unhappy about it. If a check has already been forwarded to your lawyer, it’s a simple matter to return the funds.

  • Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?
  • Yes, it’s quite common. Most health insurance policies now have language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person gets a personal injury settlement. Depending on the law in your state, your daughter may be able to deduct attorney’s fees and costs from the total amount owed to her health insurer.

  • Can I gain access to my child's personal injury settlement money?
  • A parent usually doesn’t have access to a child’s settlement funds. The reason for this is to protect children from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the child. A court will generally place a child’s settlement money in a “blocked” bank account until the child turns 18. A court will sometimes allow withdrawals from blocked accounts if the funds are needed for the child’s care and well being, and the court is satisfied the funds will be used to benefit the minor. You and your lawyer should discuss what expenses might be paid for with the settlement funds.

  • Can I break an annuity from an auto accident settlement?
  • Probably not. It’s difficult to “break” an annuity. The purpose behind an annuity is to have the insurance company pay out the settlement funds over time rather than in one lump sum payment. In your situation, because you were underage at the time of the settlement, your parents only alternative to an annuity would have been to accept a lump sum payment and put it in the bank for you. The interest earned over the past four years would have been insignificant compared to the interest earned placing the funds in a structured settlement annuity.

    You could try to get a court to set aside the annuity, which doesn’t seem very likely. The only other alternative, which would not be wise in your situation, is finding a company that purchases structured settlements from personal injury victims. Usually these companies will pay you 20 to 50 cents on the dollar and purchase your right to future payments. You’ll be giving up a substantial amount of money if you choose this option.

Automobile Accidents
  • What should I do in the event of an auto accident?
  • ou should immediately contact your insurance company and report the accident. Most of us by law have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage through our own insurance company, which provides coverage for a percentage of our medical treatment and lost wages. The standard PIP coverage amount is $10,000.00 and it covers 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages. You most likely will be asked to fill out a PIP application form by your own insurance company in order to begin using these benefits. You can then use the claim number provided to you when you make an appointment to see your doctor to avoid out of pocket expenses. You may also use your health insurance coverage as a secondary source of payment.

    After contacting your insurance company, you should see a doctor immediately to evaluate whether you have sustained any injuries from the accident. Often times after an auto accident, individuals feel a bit shaken and experience soreness throughout the body. The real pain and stiffness usually manifests days later, but it is very important to see your doctor right away because it provides documentation in your medical records as to your initial symptoms and injuries following the accident. When you see your doctor for the first time, it is very important that you tell them about the car accident.

  • Who is supposed to pay for damage and repairs to my vehicle?
  • Assuming the other party is at fault for causing the accident, you are entitled to have the other parties insurance pay for the damage and repairs to your vehicle, as long as they have sufficient property damage coverage. The advantage to taking this route is that you will not have to pay any applicable deductible under your policy. The insurance company will send a claim representative to inspect your vehicle and prepare an estimate of the damage and needed repairs. They may give you the option to have the repairs performed at a specific location they recommend OR they may give you a check and you can have the repairs performed at the body shop of your choice. It is important to remember, however, that once you have accepted payment, any additional costs are your responsibility.

    You should make sure that you are being properly compensated for the damage and needed repairs. One way to do this is to get your own independent estimate and compare it with the one done by the insurance company. In the event your car is declared a total loss – the insurance company is required to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle at the time of the loss.

    You can also decide to have your own insurance company pay for the damage and repairs to your vehicle, so long as you have sufficient property damage coverage to your vehicle. The advantage to using your own insurance company is that it will often be quicker. However, you will have to pay any applicable deductible. If the other party is at fault, your insurance company has a right of subrogation (that is the right to get paid back by the at fault parties insurance).

  • What compensation am I entitled to after an auto accident?
  • It depends on several factors and the specific circumstances and facts surrounding your auto accident. However, most individuals are entitled to recover the following:
    - Compensation for the property damage to your vehicle
    - PIP Coverage – for medical payments and lost wages (as described above)
    - Payment for past medical expenses in excess of your PIP coverage
    - Payment for lost wages in excess of your PIP coverage

    If you are injured and a medical doctor can confirm that you have sustained a permanent injury as a direct result of the auto accident in question , you may be entitled to recover more than the items listed. This may include, among others:

    - Future Medical Expenses
    - Future Lost Wages
    - Loss of Future Earning Capacity
    - Pain & Suffering in the Future
    - Loss of Enjoyment of Life

    It is best to seek legal advice in order to discuss what compensation you may be entitled to based on the specific circumstances and facts surrounding your auto accident and the extent of your injuries.

  • Should I seek the assistance of a lawyer if I am involved in an auto accident?
  • Yes. Although you may be able to resolve the property damage claim on your own, it is best to seek legal advice if you feel you have been injured as a result of an auto accident. A lawyer will be in the best position to properly advise you regarding the law and compensation that you may be entitled to.

    Furthermore, a lawyer will protect your interest and handle your claim directly with the insurance company on your behalf. It is very important that you DO NOT sign a RELEASE without consulting with an auto accident and car wreck lawyer first.

Slips and Falls
  • Is it hard to proof Slip and Fall cases?
  • Slip and falls and other premises liability cases are becoming increasingly more complex over recent decades. Because of these complexities, it is imperative for one who is injured on the land or premises of another to consult with a competent and experienced Attorney who will review and assess the important facts, research the law, and counsel the injured with respect to his or her rights.

    Previously thought of as only “slip and fall” cases, premises liability cases now include a wide range of situations including slips, trips, dangerous conditions, dangerous methods of operation and various other scenarios where liability (legal fault) may be imposed on the owner of the premises where the injury occurred. The following is a list of frequently asked questions that are aimed to assist our clients and the general public who visits our website, and have concerns regarding slip and fall and premises liability cases.

  • What is premises liability?
  • Premises liability is the classification of cases including slips and falls, trips and falls, or other situations which occur as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on the premises of another. A claim for damages may be brought against the property owner, the renter, or both. These claims include injuries as a result of a body of water, oil, an abrupt change in elevation of flooring, poor lighting or other hidden dangers. Premises liability cases also cover injuries stemming from dangerous methods a land owner or renter operates a business on the premises.

  • What is a dangerous condition?
  • A property owner is responsible for dangerous or hazardous conditions the he knows about, should have known about, failed to correct and/or about which he failed to warn. The danger or hazard may be known to the owner such as flooring, or a staircase that requires maintenance. A dangerous condition might be hidden, but one which the owner should have known about through the exercise of due care. For example, if the premises owner did not know about the dangerous condition, but should have known about it through routine maintenance and repair, liability may be imposed upon that owner. If the owner actually knows of the dangerous condition, his duty to protect others from that danger may require the owner to eliminate a known danger or exclude persons from the area of the known danger. Exclusion can be accomplished by creating a barrier, fence, gate, or wall. In addition, an owner’s duty could entail, providing appropriate protective devices, warnings of the dangers, or to take some combination of these measures. A land owner has a duty to ascertain whether the premises are in a reasonably safe condition, which requires the owner to use reasonable care to periodically inspect and discover the existence of any such dangerous conditions that are not actually known to the owner. How thorough and frequent these inspections must be in order to comply with this duty depends on many factors. Some of these factors include the type of premises and business activity being conducted, the type of potential dangers reasonably expected, the kind of persons entering onto the premises, and the degree of danger involved. An owner may then be liable where he should have knowledge of the danger if a reasonable inspection would have revealed the danger, and if it existed prior to the injury for a length of time longer than between reasonably routine inspections.

    It should be noted that a land owner is under no obligation to protect you against dangers which are known or that are so obvious and apparent they are reasonable expected. The rationale is that a person will use their common and ordinary senses to discover and protect themselves from open and obvious conditions. However, in any case where the land owner should anticipate the unreasonable risk of harm, someone entering the land in spite of knowledge of the dangerous condition, the owner may still be liable if he failed to maintain his premises in a reasonably safe manner by repairing the dangerous condition. For example, if the owner knows that accidents or injuries have been caused by the open and obvious condition in the past, he should have anticipated the harm to others in the future and he may be liable for subsequent injuries. Additionally, an owner may liable if he knows that other people who encounter the condition have become distracted from noticing it or are unable to notice it.

  • What should I do if I am injured on someone else's property?
  • If we are injured (whether on the property of another or not) common sense tells us that we should immediately seek the most appropriate medical care for our injuries. If we are injured severely and require an immediate visit to the emergency room, we should go to the emergency room and get treatment. If we feel better and then suddenly the condition deteriorates or does not improve, we should also seek medical care whether from our primary care physician or an emergency physician. It is important to seek medical attention immediately since the severity of the injuries may be unknown. Radiological studies and other medical tests may be required before the actual injury is discovered.

  • It is critical to be aware of what condition actually caused the injury?
  • It is imperative that the condition is preserved by video tape or photograph. It is common that the condition will change subsequent to the injury.

    Awareness of statutes of limitation and notice provisions it crucial. These statutes and provisions may apply and must be met or your claim could forever barred. This is why it is important for you to consult with legal counsel immediately to preserve your right to bring the claim and to evaluate your legal options.

    In addition to taking pictures, it is important to get the names and contact information (telephone numbers and addresses) of any person who witnessed your injury or who may have knowledge of the dangerous condition. Also, document the names of any person who can describe the conditions of the floor, lighting, etc. at the time of, or immediately after, the injury. Document and keep records of everything!

    If you are injured on the premises of a business, often times the store manager or security officer will create an incident report. Make sure you do not leave without a copy of the incident report. Do not fill out or sign the incident report. Take specific notes if you overhear someone mention that “a similar incident has occurred here before”. Get the name of any person who makes that comment, if possible.

  • What should I NOT do?
  • Do not provide any statements to the premises owner and certainly do not sign any statement or incident report, especially if you did not write it. Do NOT say anything that would imply fault on your own part. Do not say things like “it was probably my fault”, “I am such a klutz”, “I did not see the water on the floor”, or “I am clumsy” – stay away from all language that could imply that you were at fault.

    Many times after an incident of injury, a claims adjuster or a third party claims administrator will contact you to find out information about what occurred and your injury. Do NOT give a statement to any person who contacts you. First, consult with an attorney who specializes in premises liability cases and the attorney will advise you as to whether a statement should be provided. Claims adjusters are trained in attempting to get you to admit full or at least partial responsibility for the injury. Any statement made such as “I’m feeling better now” may be used to minimize the extent or severity of your injuries. Additionally, the claims adjuster may attempt to persuade you to settle the claim immediately and sign a release in exchange for a minimal amount of money, or the adjuster may try to settle the claim prior to knowing the full extent your injuries.

  • If I was injured on the premises of another and I believe it was the fault of the land owner, what will I need to prove my case?
  • Every case is different. Every case has distinct facts and legal issues that set it apart from the next. You or your attorney will need the following to help prove your case (at a minimum):

    - Photographs or a video tape of the scene, ideally depicting the dangerous or hazardous condition.
    - Names and contact information for witnesses to the incident, the dangerous condition, or the scene immediately following the incident. You will need as many witnesses as you can find to help corroborate your account of what happened.
    - A copy of the incident report if one was created.
    - Proof of your injuries and damages. This includes medical records (and possibly live medical testimony) from your healthcare providers who treated you for injuries related to the incident. Additionally, keep all receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses that prove amounts you paid for co-pays for doctors visits, medications, and from other expenses paid as a result of the incident.
    - Reports or accounts of prior similar incidents “if they exist” which would help to prove that the premises owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition.
    - Some cases may require testimony of an expert witness to provide scientific opinions regarding the dangerous condition. An expert witness can evaluate the condition and testify as to what caused the fall such as a slick surface or a violation of a building code) based on the expert’s education, training and experience.

  • Do I need a premises liability attorney?
  • Many cases can be handled without an attorney in small claims court. However, it is important that you consult legal counsel in order to be aware of your rights the law. Many lawyers will not charge a fee for the initial consultation. In most personal injury cases, the attorney works on a contingency fee. This means that unless there is a recovery in your case, you do not owe any attorney fees.

  • What kind of damages are recoverable for an injury as a result of a dangerous condition on someone else's premises?
  • In Florida, generally the following damages may be recoverable:

    - Past medical bills and expenses incurred as a result of the incident.
    - Reasonable estimates of medical bills you will incur in the future.
    - Lost income from time missed from work as a result of the injury.
    - The fair value of any damaged property or clothing as a result of the incident.
    - Compensation for general damages including pain, suffering, and other intangible damages which are difficult to quantify with a number.

  • Can I bring a claim against my employer if I injure myself from a dangerous condition on the job?
  • Most work related injuries are covered by the worker’s compensation system. This system gives the employer immunity from being sued for employee injuries. However, there are several exceptions which take the employer out of workers’ compensation immunity. Additionally, there are situations where a third party is responsible for the injury. This is yet another reason why it is important for you to speak with an attorney who specializes in premises liability cases to discuss your rights given the facts of the situation.

  • What happens if I injure myself at someone's house?
  • If you injure yourself at someone’s house and that person owns the house, they probably have homeowners’ insurance coverage. If that individual rents, there may be renter’s insurance or another type of insurance available to cover your injury. Further, if they are renters, the land owner probably has insurance coverage for claims filed regarding the property.

  • If a lawsuit is pursued against a land owner, what defenses will the land owner have against the claim?
  • There are several defenses a land owner may assert depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. The land owner might argue that the condition was “open and obvious” and that you were yourself careless, inattentive, or negligent and caused the injuries.

    If the condition was a temporary or transient one, such as spilled water, the land owner may argue that this spill occurred too soon to give them an opportunity to correct the dangerous condition.

  • Suppose a third party, besides the land owner, was responsible for the accident on the land owner's premises?
  • Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the landowner and/or a third party may be legally responsible. The responsibility for the injury may fall on one or the other, or be shared by both with the amount of responsibility depending on each party’s percentage of fault.

  • What should a property owner do to protect against claims resulting from slip and fall and/or other premises liability injuries?
  • First, the property owner should make sure to carry some form of property insurance that contains liability coverage. If an incident does occur where someone is injured, immediately notify your insurance carrier. Failure to notify your insurance carrier could cause a to refusal to protect your interests. Many insurance companies, pursuant to their policy, require the insured to notify them of any incidents and/or claims within a very short period of time.

    Additionally, please be aware that if the injury occurred as a result of a permanent condition on the property, you should correct the dangerous condition immediately. Once an incident occurs, the premises owner is “on notice” of the potentially dangerous condition and will more likely be held liable for injuries if others injure themselves as a result of that same condition.

    Premises owners should routinely monitor the business or home premises for potential dangerous conditions (including water, ice, natural and artificial conditions). Be sure to repair defects that could cause someone to fall.

    Many insurance companies will provide a free consultation to educate insureds on reducing the risk of potential hazards on the property. If suggestions are made to correct any conditions, the landowner is on notice. Once on notice, a landowner is more likely to be held liable for a subsequent injury as a result of the dangerous condition.

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