Personal Injury Lawyer in Winter Park, FL
Personal injury cases can be extremely complicated since no two lawsuits are the same. Accidents that lead to personal injury claims include everything from a dog bite to a fall injury on someone else’s property. It is important when filing a claim that the victim has some knowledge of personal injury law in Winter Park. Researching the current laws in Florida can help a victim understand their rights.
If the victim knows that their accident was due to another person’s negligence, they should act quickly to file their claim. Time is critical when it comes to personal injury cases since all states have a deadline or a statute of limitations.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations: The Statute of Limitations is a deadline set for the window of time the victim can file their lawsuit in civil court. Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, the victim has four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If the individual fails to file a claim during this time, the court will usually refuse to hear it. There are rare cases where a victim discovers that they suffered harm from an accident only years later. In that case, the victim receives an extension for the time window for filing a lawsuit if the court agrees.
There are also different rules for the deadline to file a lawsuit if a medical malpractice caused the injury, such as a surgical procedure gone wrong or unknown side-effects to prescription medication. The window of time depends on the factors of the injury. Most victims of medical malpractice must file their lawsuit within two years of their injury, or from the time that they discovered the injury.
Understanding Personal Injury Law in Winter Park
A victim of an accident caused by another individual’s negligence should be aware of their rights and responsibilities when filing a lawsuit. In order to receive fair compensation for an accident or injury in Florida, the victim must show evidence that the other person (the defendant) was involved. Failure to present evidence of negligence or malpractice can result in the victim, (the plaintiff) not receiving payment to cover their medical bills or loss of wages.
Laws for Personal Injury due to Auto Accidents: If the victim was involved in an automobile accident, the circumstances are different. Florida is a no-fault state. That means the insurance policies owned by both drivers will pay for all injuries and damages, no matter who was at fault. According to state law, every driver in Florida must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage at a minimum of $10,000 per person.
Victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident if their injuries are serious. Florida law defines a serious personal injury as:
- Significant or permanent loss of necessary bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability aside from disfigurement or scarring
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Comparative Negligence Law: In cases where the victim has partial blame for an injury, the potential benefit amount lowers. This is because of Florida’s comparative negligence law. It states that if the injured person is partially responsible for the incident that caused their injury, such as more than ten but less than 25 percent at fault, they may only collect up to $200,000. If the defendant is between 26 and 50 percent at fault, the most that the plaintiff may collect is $500,000. If the defendant is more than 50 percent at fault, and the plaintiff is also partially to blame, the most they can collect in compensation is $1 million.
The Importance of Evidence
The most important thing that a victim can have to strengthen their personal injury case is plenty of evidence. Proof of an injury such as medical records, statements from a doctor, or testimony of an eyewitness can provide the proof needed to turn the case in favor of the plaintiff.
When it comes to a personal injury claim, some forms of evidence may include:
- Testimony from a doctor who examined the victim and diagnosed their injury
- A journal written by the victim stating what happened during the accident, or
- Proof that a medical professional saw the victim within a reasonable amount of time following the accident
There are times when evidence can hurt a victim’s claim, such as not getting medical assistance immediately following the accident or seeing a doctor that could overtreat them for their injury. The latter could happen because they know that there is a potential claim at hand. The doctor may attempt to run additional tests that are not necessary to run up the medical bill. This could create a larger settlement offer or compensation amount for the victim, yet it can also backfire. Therefore, it is not sensible to see physicians that perform this type of dishonest practice. If there is a medical professional suggested by the insurance company, the victim should attempt to see them first before seeing their own doctor.
Insurance Company Settlements
Anytime that someone becomes injured in an automobile accident, he or she is likely to receive a call from the defendant’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster makes an offer to settle their case, and while it may seem to be a generous offer, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer before accepting.
For a car accident victim, the days following the incident can be overwhelming and stressful. Receiving that phone call from a concerned insurance representative at that time may seem like the best solution to the problem. However, the insurance company does not always have their client’s best interests in mind.
The initial offer that an accident victim receives from an insurance adjuster is always much less than what they would receive by taking legal action. Choosing to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer is a mistake, and the amount usually will not pay the victim’s expenses. The best thing that anyone seriously injured in a car accident can do is consult with a personal injury attorney and learn about what they consider fair compensation for their injuries would be.
The Personal Injury Claim Process
The law requires filing a personal injury claim in the same county where the incident occurred, or where one of the defendants live. If the value of the injuries or damage is less than $15,000, the plaintiff can file in county court. Circuit courts retain authority over claims valued at more than $15,000. Those who file in county court risk not receiving more than $15,000 in compensation, even if the jury decides that the plaintiff should have more than the court limit.
The victim should keep in mind that all personal injury claims are subject to Florida’s Statute of Limitations which is a deadline of 4 years to file their case. Remember that public entities such as the state and county government and other similar agencies have a shorter limitation period. If filing against one of these, find out the deadline as soon as possible to ensure fair compensation.
During court, the judge or jury analyzes the statements from the plaintiff and defendant. If they discover the victim is partially to blame, the responsible party will assign the percentage of fault to both the plaintiff and the defendant; then they will distribute the damages according to the results based on Florida’s comparative negligence laws.
The Discovery Process: This is a pretrial procedure where both parties request evidence such as records, information, and other important documents related to the accident. Both the plaintiff and the defendant can request answers to interrogation. The plaintiff or defendant can either respond to the questions in writing or deny a response if their personal injury attorney disproves them. The documents often requested during the discovery process can include medical records and bills, loss of wages, proof of property damage, any photos taken, police reports, insurance policies, and any other form of relatable information.
The plaintiff may also be deposed during this process, which means that they would have to answer questions orally under oath, asked by the defendant’s personal injury attorneys. The question could be about anything referring to the incident. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers will accompany them and advise them throughout the process. Usually, the victim must submit to a medical examination by a doctor of the defendant’s attorney’s choosing.
During the discovery process, the lawyers can agree to mediation. This involves an uninvolved third-party who helps the plaintiff and defendant come to a resolution without taking the claim to court. Mediation can be extremely beneficial as it can help both parties eliminate going into an expensive trial when it is not necessary,
The Decision to Settle Outside of Court
In most personal injury cases, the defendant’s lawyer approaches the victim to settle the case outside of court. They would offer an amount to the victim that may seem generous. However, it is often much less than what the individual could receive if the case goes to court.
There are advantages and disadvantages to settling a personal injury case outside of court. However, injured victims of an accident are advised to always consult with a lawyer before they decide on a settlement offer.
What is a settlement?
A settlement is a formal resolution of a legal dispute without a judge’s ruling or a jury’s verdict deciding the amount that the victim receives. In most cases, the defendant offers a certain amount of money to the plaintiff. In exchange, the plaintiff is to sign a release of the defendant’s liability in the case. A settlement can occur at any time during a civil lawsuit. Sometimes it can occur before the plaintiff files a lawsuit if both parties can reach an agreement.
Benefits of Accepting a Settlement
There can be several benefits for the victim if they choose to settle their case outside of court, such as:
- Less Stress: Working with the defendant and their personal injury lawyers outside of court can be less stressful than enduring a trial and the potential appeals that could occur afterward. There is no need for the plaintiff or defendant to speak their case on the witness stand or face a cross-examination by the opposing attorney. Either party can bring in a mediator who can speak for them and make the entire experience fast and as comfortable as possible.
- It Keeps the Case Private: Agreeing to a settlement will keep the details of the case out of civil court. Anytime a case goes to trial; the court documents become public records that anyone can see unless the judge decides that the records should remain sealed. When a case settles outside of court, these details stay out of the court documents and are not available to the public. Many times, a settlement will also include a confidentiality clause.
- Less Expensive: Taking a case to trial involves attorneys, expert witnesses, travel to and from the courthouse and other meetings with a personal injury attorney, and time. When a case settles, these expenses are drastically reduced or eliminated, saving both parties time and money.
- Easier to Predict the Outcome: It can be difficult to predict what the jury’s verdict or the judge’s decision will be. However, when a victim agrees to settle their case with the defendant, they can dictate the terms and help decide what the outcome will be, eliminating the need to have someone else make the decision about their benefits for them.
- Finalize the Case: When a personal injury case goes to court, the losing party has the right to file an appeal. This can drag out the trial for a very long time. In most cases, the losing party cannot file an appeal when a settlement occurs outside of court.
When Not to Settle
There are times when a plaintiff will file a lawsuit to make a profound statement of what is right or wrong. They may want to express that the events of their case could impact others who are dealing with an analogous situation. Lawsuits that challenge the current laws or question laws and regulations that seem to be unfair can make a positive difference. In that case, settling outside of court would not be the best option.
Also, if both parties cannot come to a fair agreement on a settlement, or they suggest an unrealistic offer, resolving the lawsuit outside of court may not be possible. The victim of the accident should keep in mind that they have the right to disagree with any settlement offered to them and can choose to take the case to court, even if the amount seems reasonable.
Making the Final Decision
A personal injury attorney assists their client in the decision to agree or disagree with the settlement offer. It is part of their role as an advocate and counsel to their client to analyze the details and determine if the offer is the best option for their situation. A lawyer with experience in personal injury cases will look at all aspects of the settlement and find out if the amount will compensate for their client’s losses. Regardless of the lawyer’s decision, the victim still has the right to make the final call on whether they want to accept the settlement offer or deny it.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
When someone is involved in an injury due to another individual’s negligence, he or she should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible for assistance in filing their claim. A good lawyer will have the experience needed to build a compelling case for the victim and ensure that they will receive fair compensation. Those who choose to go into a personal injury case without a lawyer are likely to end up losing their case or not receiving the optimal amount of benefits they deserve. The defense will have a lawyer to back up their case, therefore the plaintiff will also need one to stand by their side.
At Farah & Farah, we have the knowledge and expertise needed to help our clients get the compensation that they need to resume their lifestyle. We have faced insurance companies in the past, fought diligently for our clients’ right to receive benefits and won. We can do the same thing for you. Our team has worked on various personal injury cases. We helped settle multi-million-dollar lawsuits and won multi-million-dollar verdicts in court.
The personal injury attorneys at Farah & Farah have the training required to win the case for our clients. We know how difficult it can be to fight against insurance companies and we take the time to research all the current laws to find the information needed to build a solid case.
For over 35 years, Farah & Farah has worked with injured clients all throughout Winter Park and the surrounding areas. We encourage anyone injured in an accident to act quickly and get in contact with us to discuss their case. Our personal injury lawyers will not receive any payment unless our clients receive the compensation they need.
Contact us here at Farah & Farah today to discuss the details of a personal injury case with one of our dependable lawyers. We offer a FREE CONSULTATION to all new clients. Give us a call today at 321.274.9202 to learn more.