Florida Car Accident FAQs
Sholtes Law, PLLC represents victims of all types of car accidents, offering strong, aggressive representation that gets results. At the same time, we’re a local Fort Pierce law firm, concerned about the wellbeing of our friends and neighbors in the community. For us, car accident cases are more than a way to make a living as a lawyer. They’re about getting a person’s life back on track with fair and necessary compensation for car accident-related injuries while bringing awareness to dangerous driving behaviors that potentially harm us all. Here, we answer some frequently asked questions about car accident injury claims in Florida. Please call us for more information regarding your specific concerns.
Should I See a Doctor After Being Involved in a Car Accident?
After being involved in a car accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to receive a physical examination and undergo any necessary diagnostic testing—even if you think you feel fine immediately following the accident. A seemingly minor bump or bruise could get worse over time and lead to a chronic condition, and many injuries, like head trauma and neck injuries, can be difficult to detect without proper tests. If you don’t see a doctor and receive a diagnosis and treatment for your car accident injuries, you may lose the option to seek compensation for them later, regardless of how serious your injuries turn out to be.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
How much you’ll end up paying your car accident lawyer will depend on the facts of your case, the time spent on your case, and how much compensation you receive at the conclusion of your case. Attorneys that focus on car accident injury claims, like we do, get paid on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us any money up front. Rather, we take our fees from a portion of the compensation you receive in a settlement or court judgment. If you do not win your case, we do not get any money either.
How Do I Know If the Insurance Company Has Made Me a Fair Settlement Offer for My Car Accident Injuries?
Bottom line—unless you’ve spoken to a car accident injury attorney, you don’t know whether the amount of money you’ve been offered is fair. Insurance companies work to settle claims for as little as possible, so it is very unlikely that the first settlement amount offered to you represents the full value of your claim. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer will help ensure you receive adequate compensation for all your damages, not just the minimum amount of money the insurance company is responsible for paying.
What is the average payout for a personal injury claim?
There is no average payout for a personal injury claim. Each claim needs to be carefully analyzed and worked up to determine what its value is. No lawyer can tell you at an initial consultation how much your claim is worth.
The amount that you may be entitled to because of your personal injury claim depends on a number of factors including:
- What are your injuries?
- What medical treatment have your received?
- What future medical treatment will you require?
- Who was at fault for the injury?
- What insurance coverage does the person have who caused your injury?
An insurance adjuster or jury will evaluate your claim based on these factors and based on these factors you will be offered a settlement or received a verdict.
How much money can you sue for pain and suffering?
In a personal injury case you are usually entitled to two types of damages:
- Economic Damages, which are your medical bills and lost wages; and
- Non-Economic damages, which is more commonly called pain and suffering damages.
The Florida standard jury instruction on pain and suffering says that there is no exact standard for measuring pain and suffering damages. So it is up to your attorney to tell your story about how your injury has affected your life and as a result of what was taken from you, how much you should be compensated to be made whole again.
It’s important for your lawyer to know all of the ins and outs of your injuries and how they effect you. For example, if you have a neck injury that you feel everyday from a car accident. This injury limits your ability to enjoy activities such as playing with your children, physical exercise, or even being able to sit or stand for periods of time. Then based on how this injury has affected you, we can make a per diem argument. Or in other words ask the jury to consider this injuries effects on you, and award you, lets say $10 per day for the rest of your life. Depending on your age this could come up to a very large number.
There are other ways to measure pain and suffering, but in any case, its important to have a knowledgeable attorney who is willing to fight for you.
Does personal injury protection cover pain and suffering?
Personal injury protection, or as it is commonly referred to as no-fault insurance coverage, will only pay for 80% of your medical bills or 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000.
Personal injury protection will not pay for pain and suffering. In Florida you must have sustained a permanent injury in order to be awarded money for pain and suffering.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
Personal injury claims can settle as quick as 3 months or take longer than 3 years. It depends on the case. If your injuries are relatively minor and you do not require a lot of medical treatment, and the claim can be settled without filing a lawsuit, then you can expect to settle shortly after you are finished with your medical treatment.
We will never settle your lawsuit before you are done treating or have reached what is called maximum medical improvement. You do not want to settle sooner than this, because you need to know the full extent of your injuries and possible medical treatment before settling.
Sometimes, the insurance companies will not offer a reasonable settlement and we have to file a lawsuit. When this happens, the case can go on for a year or longer before being settled or going to trial.
How soon should you see a doctor after a car accident?
You should see a doctor as soon as your can after an accident. It is absolutley necessary to see a doctor within 14 days after a car accident. If you do not see a doctor within 14 days, you will waive your personal injury protection insurance. Ideally you should see a doctor within 24 hours of any accident.
How long after a settlement do you get paid?
After your lawsuit is settled there are still more steps that your lawyer must take before paying you. If any of your medical bills have been paid through medicaid, medicare or your health insurance you may have a lien on your settlement, and your lawyer will have to negotiate the lien before disbursing the money.
Or some of your medical providers may have liens on your settlement and we will have to negotiate with your medical providers to reduce their bills.
What Percentage of My Settlement Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Take?
Most Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers work on whats called a contingent fee contract. This means that you do not have to pay us anything out of pocket, and that we get paid a percentage of your eventual settlement. I charge the standard 33% for lawsuits that settle before going into litigation. If your settlement is over 1 million then the fee is reduced.
If your case goes into litigation, or we have to file a lawsuit which the defendant contests, then my fee goes up to 40%. Again if your settlement is over 1 million, then my fee is reduced.
What is comparative fault in a car accident?
In some cases it is clear who is at fault for an car accident. For example, in Florida there is a rebuttable presumption of negligence in a rear-end automobile accident. However, more often than not, automobile accidents are caused by multiple factors. In these cases it is not clear who is at fault and who’s insurance will have to pay for your damages.
Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that each driver in an accident has to pay for damages in proportion to the percentage of fault by which that driver contributed to the accident. At the end of the day a jury will decide who was at fault for the accident, and assign responsibility for the damages accordingly.