What happens when people or companies in our society do not honor their obligations? This can occur when another driver fails to yield the right-of-way. It can happen when a big company makes their truck driver drive too far too fast for too long. It can happen when a company does not keep its equipment up to government or industry standards. It can happen when a bar keeps serving a drunk alcohol and then sends him out the door to play Russian Roulette with his car.
We handle a large variety of cases where people have been injured or killed because someone has been negligent, that is, they have not done what they were supposed to do.
MAKING A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
What do you do if you believe you have a personal injury claim against another person or corporation? A few personal injury claims are caused by the intentional acts of others. These involve issues of assault and/or battery. While the criminal courts are often involved in these actions, there is a civil claim for money damages that may be made against a person who intentionally injures another.
Most personal injury claims, however, deal with negligence. Negligence is defined as a failure to use reasonable care. In other words doing something a reasonably careful person would not do or failing to do something a reasonably careful person would do. One party can only be liable for another party's personal injury if that person was at fault and that fault was the cause of the other person's injury. Most personal injury claims involve automobile accidents; bus, plane or train accidents; premises liability or professional negligence. Premises liability cases may include slip and falls, building defects, failure to provide adequate security, or the like.
An individual can resolve his or her own personal injury claim either with the at-fault individual or with an insurance representative of the at-fault individual. In a minor injury with no permanent disability, it may be economically advantageous to handle the claim without an attorney. However, where there is a dispute as to fault, or a dispute as to the extent of the injury, use of an experienced attorney is recommended. If you have a claim that you believe requires the use of an attorney, you should employ an attorney early. You should not give statements or make commitments to a representative of the other party without legal advice.
Often times the total extent of an injury cannot be determined for some length of time. This is particularly true with injuries to children, injuries that cause psychological problems and injuries which aggravate pre-existing conditions.
You should immediately notify all insurance carriers of your personal injury claim. If it is an automobile claim, you should not only notify the other parties' insurance carrier, but also your own automobile insurance carrier. Different benefits are dependent upon the type of accident and the type of insurance coverage held by the different parties. If you are employing an attorney, it is important for you to bring to that attorney all of your insurance policies including automobile, health, and disability. Caution should be used in resolving these claims early.
In a personal injury claim, a person may bring a claim for their out-of-pocket medical expenses, wages lost because of being disabled, their inability to earn wages in the future, pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability and inability to lead the same life one led before the incident. If the claim is for the death of an individual, the Florida Legislature has established who may make a claim for that wrongful death and what damages each person may claim.
Most attorneys handle personal injury cases based on a contingency fee, which means the lawyer takes as a fee a percentage of the recovery. Any fee agreement with an attorney must be in writing. The fee agreement must state a method by which the fee is to be determined including the percentage or percentages that shall go to the lawyer in the event of a settlement, trial or appeal. If the attorney that you employ wishes to associate another attorney from another law firm to assist, the contract must be agreed to and signed by all attorneys as well as yourself.