I have car crash injuries, now what should I do?

If you have car crash injuries, there are several time critical decisions which must be made quickly, which will greatly impact your recovery on the case.

Here is an outline of the things you need to do quickly:

  1. First, you must see a physician as soon as you can to document and to diagnose your injury. PIP coverage in Florida will not pay for some bills if you delay seeing a doctor.  Even if you think the pains will heal by themselves.   Frequently, this is not the case.  You should consult with a physician experienced in treating car crash injuries.
  1. Next, you should contact your insurance company. Notify them of the fact that you have been involved in a car crash and will be making a claim for your car crash injuries.  Any failure to timely notify your insurance company of the existence of the claim may result in your insurance company denying you benefits.
  1. Then, you should photograph the damage to your vehicle to preserve evidence.  Show everything involved with your car crash injuries.
  1. Finally, you should consult with an attorney experienced in the area of personal injury law. This is probably the most important decision you will make.  If you retain the Dawson Law Firm to represent you, we will help guide you through the entire process.  Including, the important steps of selecting an appropriate doctor, contacting your insurance company, and preserving all the evidence necessary to present your case in the most effective light.
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+How do I get paid for the time I will miss from work since I was suffering car crash injuries?

In Florida, every owner of a motor vehicle is required to have Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits. This includes coverage for lost wages. You’re entitled to 60% of the wages you can document you normally earn. Absent extended coverage, you have up to $10,000 in coverage for this loss.

+I do not own a car, and I was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a friend when I became injured in a car crash. Who pays my medical bills?

Under the Florida PIP law, if you don’t own a motor vehicle, the insurance company for any resident relative would provide coverage for you. If you do not reside with a relative, then the insurance company for the vehicle in which you were traveling at the time of the accident would provide coverage.

+What is the value of my case?

The three key elements in determining the value of the case address the nature of the liability, the extent of the car crash injuries, the amount of insurance coverage available. Fault is the first critical question. Second is the determination of the extent of the injuries by your doctor. The third is the amount of available insurance coverage. As your attorneys, our firm seeks to maximize these elements as quickly as possible to obtain the highest recovery for you.

+Will I have to go to trial for my case?

No. We make every effort to settle your case for the right amount in view of the case specific facts; in most cases trials are avoided. However, we also understand that insurance companies are in the business to make money and they will make every effort to resolve your case below fair value hoping that your attorneys will not fight. Our philosophy is to make every effort to settle as long as the amount is fair value for your car crash injuries. We will litigate your case through jury trial verdict if the settlement offers are less than your case is worth. However, the decision of whether to accept an offer is always your decision and we will provide the advice to you based upon our years of experience.

+What do I owe if we lose?

No legal fee is owed in the event of an adverse result. However, since our firm does not accept cases that we don’t believe are meritorious, this is an extremely unlikely result. Nevertheless, no attorney can guarantee a result and having this understanding up front is important.

+Can I hire a Florida Lawyer if I live in another state?

If your injury occurred while you were visiting the State of Florida, it would make more sense to hire a Florida lawyer to represent you as any legal action resulting from that accident would be filed in Florida and would need to be handled by a member of the Florida Bar.

+How can I pay for my medical bills while my claim is being handled?

Depending upon the nature of the accident, there may be insurance coverage available to pay for the medical bills as you treat. Additionally, you may be entitled to use available health insurance coverage Medicare or Medicaid depending upon your age and other factors. If there is no insurance coverage available, most medical providers will wait until the end of the case to be paid providing they are sufficiently confident that liability supports a settlement or verdict in favor of the injured person.

+How much time do I have to file a personal injury claim?

A pure negligence case has a statute of limitations of four years. Professional negligence, including medical malpractice has a statue limitations of two years. A cruise ship injury as a statue limitations of one year. Is important to consult with an attorney to learn when a statue limitations would run an any accident case that you may have.

+How much will it cost for me to hire a lawyer?

Most personal injury attorneys, including my office, work on a contingency fee basis. What that means is are getting paid is contingent upon our client recovering. If there is no recovery, there is no fee.

+How much can I expect to recover?

Any results in a personal and the injury action is largely dependent upon three factors. The first and most important factor is the extent of the injury.  The second most important factor is liability, or fault.  The third factor is available insurance coverage. Absence of any one of these from the equation usually results in a small recovery or none at all.

+What do I do if I'm not getting the best care from my doctor?

If at any time a client is unhappy with the services of their medical provider, and they feel that they’re not getting the improvement that they should, we can help you find a different doctor to provide the therapy and treatment that you need.

+What if I am partially at fault?

In Florida we have a partial comparative negligence statute. If a jury were to find you partially responsible for the accident, your damages would be reduced by your percentage of fault. In other words if a jury were toward hundred thousand dollars in damages but found that you were 25% at fault, they would reduce your judgment by $25,000.

+My auto insurance insurance company wants to see a doctor that THEY chose for an IME, what do I do?

Your insurance policy, and the PIP statute, permit your insurance company to have you examined by a physician of their choosing. You are obligated to attend this examination or you may void your insurance coverage. Understand that this doctor is not looking out for your best interest, but is looking out for your insurance company’s best interest.  If your insurance company terminates benefits as a result of this examination, an attorney such as myself can help you make sure that you get the benefits to which you are entitled by contesting the results of that insurance doctor examination.

+Why hire a lawyer who tries cases?

The reason an experienced lawyer with trial experience is important to have on your side is to ensure that the attorney has knowledge tempered by experience to represent you in an action. This should include having trial experience as the insurance companies are fully aware of those attorneys who are capable of litigating a case, rather than simply settling it. If the insurance company believes that your attorney will not file a lawsuit or try the case if necessary, they will offer less money banking on the settlement being less then the value of the case if it were tried.

+How do I know if we should file a lawsuit?

Whether a lawsuit is filed on a client’s behalf is dependent upon several different variables. First and foremost, if the insurance company offers fair value for your case a settlement is always a preferred result. However, insurance companies don’t always evaluate the cases in the same way the attorneys do. As a consequence, it is often necessary to file a lawsuit in order to convince the insurance company to make a better offer.  If a satisfactory offer is not made, then the case must be tried in the determination of value is left with the jury. This is always a gamble, but sometimes a necessary one.

+Why does the insurance adjuster say that I can resolve my case without involving an attorney?

Always be wary of an insurance adjuster telling you that you don’t need a lawyer. They are not looking out for your best interests, as they are employed by the insurance company and are seeking to save the insurance company money. As a consequence, you shouldn’t take legal advice from an insurance adjuster. It would be like the bag handler at the airport telling you that you can fly the plane.

+What is the purpose of a Letter of Protection?

A letter of protection is a document wherein you promise to pay the doctor any monies owed for medical treatment out of the proceeds of a settlement or verdict.

Should I call an attorney referral service?

Attorney referral services make no effort to evaluate the attorneys they recommend cases to and usually work with attorneys who participate in the cost of marketing. This is a dangerous way to hire an attorney. A far better way to hire an attorney is to utilize any of the many Internet evaluation sources or to simply screen the attorneys yourself by viewing their websites.

+How long will it take to resolve my case?

The question of how long it will take a case to resolve is difficult to answer in a paragraph. There are numerous variables that could affect how quickly a case resolves. Small injury cases can resolve quickly. However, the greater is the injury, the more complex the liability, or other factors can cause a case to take longer to resolve. The most important thing to remember is it’s not how quickly your case resolved it’s how well it resolved is you have to live with the result of the case for the rest of your life.