Many types of claims fall into the heading
of personal injury claims. See the extensive list set
out on the Case Types page.
Often a potential client knows they have a personal
injury claim or a chance at having one. But, three general
issues must be addressed in a personal injury matter.
Was there an injury to a person and the
extent of the damages to the person?
Can we identify who is at fault for the
event that injured this person?
Can the at-fault person or company pay
for the damage it did to the person?
Found in these questions are the basic
issues an injured person, and we as their lawyer, must
consider before pursuing a personal injury claim.
The time shortly after the personal injury
event is a difficult time for injury victims because
they can not get full and complete answers to the questions
above. Yet, from the moment a personal injury event
occurs these questions need to be answered and by getting
the answers the victim, and us as their lawyer, will
identify what rights and remedies can be pursued for
the victim. All to often those rights are being overlooked
and discarded by persons one would expect to help and
aid the victim. Below is a short list of companies or
individuals that should provide help to the personal
injury victim. Are you getting straight answers from
the list below?
THE PERSON WHO INJURED YOU
YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY OR AGENT
YOUR EMPLOYER OR HUMAN RESOURCES
YOUR MEDICAL CARE PROVIDER OR BILLING
THE AT FAULT INSURANCE COMPANY OR
THE POLICE OR INVESTIGATIVE AGENCY
THE LANDOWNER OR BUILDING MANAGER
THE DOG OWNER OR DOG CONTROL OFFICERS
THE STORE OR RESTAURANT OWNER
If you aren't getting straight answers from anyone listed above, please contact us immediately through our Case Evaluation
form , e-Mail,
or our Telephone Land Lines. YOU HAVE RIGHTS THAT NEED
PROTECTION AND SOMEONE ON YOUR SIDE TO GET THE STRAIGHT
The Accident Information Form is handy tool to keep printed and in your automobiles glove box. This form contains all of the pertinent information that you will be asked for when processing a claim. Some of these items are hard to remember at the time of an accident. This form will allow you to take notes at the scene reducing forgotten information.
Below is a Florida Bar Pamphlet regarding
what to do in an automobile collision in Florida. It
can be found at The
Florida Bar Website. But, it has appropriate information
and questions for use in any personal injury matter
and can be utilized as a reference for other types of
Caveat: the information below is Florida
Automobile law specific, if your claim occurred in a
state other than Florida, or is a non-automobile claim,
the laws of that state or claim type must be considered
and evaluated for specific information to the claim.
Florida law requires the driver of any vehicle involved
in an accident to immediately stop at the scene.
You should make sure you do not block traffic any
more than necessary. If the accident involved an
unattended vehicle or other property, you should
attempt to locate the owner. If you cannot find
the owner, then you are required to leave a conspicuous
note, giving your name, address and vehicle registration
number. You must immediately notify police of the
accident.If the accident involved an attended vehicle
or property, both drivers must stop at or close
to the scene, without obstructing traffic any more
than is absolutely necessary.
ASSIST THE INJURED
Your first responsibility in the event
of an accident with an occupied car or property
is to find out if anyone is hurt. If someone is
seriously injured, get an ambulance, rescue squad,
or doctor immediately. You are required to provide
the injured person all reasonable assistance, including
attempting to obtain treatment for the injured or
transportation to a doctor or hospital. However,
you should not attempt to provide treatment for
injuries yourself unless you are trained in first
aid. Even with good intentions you may make the
injury worse if you do not know what you are doing.
PROTECT THE SCENE
The cars should be left where they came to rest
unless they are blocking traffic. While it is important
to protect the accident scene, obstructing traffic
can delay the arrival of police or emergency vehicles
or even cause another accident. For this reason,
it is essential that you carefully note the positions
of any vehicles involved in the accident that are
obstructing trafficCand then move them .The use
of flares, flashlights, or your car's four-way flashers
can help provide warning to other drivers of the
All accidents do not require police notification.
Only accidents involving injury to or death of any
person or damage in excess of $500.00 requires police
notification. All other accidents (minor in nature
as defined by the Statute) do not have to be reported
to the police as long as the drivers exchange information
or notice is given to an unattended vehicle or property
of the cause of the damage.Written reports of accidents
have to be made to the Division of Highway Safety
and Motor Vehicles within ten (10) days after an
accident which results in bodily injury to or death
of any person or damage to any vehicle or other
property of an apparent amount of at least $500.00
unless an investigating police officer has made
a written report having been notified of such accident.
PROVIDE REQUIRED INFORMATION
You are required by law to provide the other driver
in an accident with your name, address, and vehicle
registration number, and to let the driver see your
license. You are entitled to the same. Always ask
to see a driver's license, and copy down the number
as well as his name and address. You are also required
to provide the investigating officer with whatever
information is needed to determine the cause of
the accident. The statements you make to the officer
alone to assist the investigation are privileged.
If you are charged or sued, they cannot be used
against you in court.
DO NOT COMMENT
With the exception of your exchange of required
information, you should not comment on the accident.
Keep your notes and opinions to yourself. Do not
admit you were wrong or careless. Such admissions,
made in the tension and excitement of the moment,
may be accurate, but they could turn out to be costly.
There is time to admit responsibility after the
facts are all in if they clearly show you were wrong.
If the accident was a serious one, you should consult
a lawyer as soon as possible before arriving at
any agreements with anyone, and before making any
admissions. A plea of guilty to a traffic charge
may sometimes be used against you in a lawsuit to
establish your civil liability for damages.
Get the names and addresses of all the witnesses
you can. Attempt to have them write down or at least
state to you what they know, at the scene. Keep
a pencil and pad in your car so you will be able
to make necessary notes.
Sketch a diagram of the scene, pace off distances,
and note skid marks, broken glass, positions of
the cars, and locations of damage. If you have a
camera with you, take photos of the scene. Try to
clarify what happened in your own mind while events
are still fresh. Write down all you have noted as
you will forget a great many details in a short
period of time.
WHEN TO LEAVE
After you have assisted the injured, obtained identification
from the other driver, provided your own name, address
and identification, gotten the names of witnesses,
studied the scene so that you know what happened
to cause the accident, and assisted the investigating
officer, you are free to go. You should ask for
the officer's permission to leave prior to doing
SEE A DOCTOR
Serious injuries do not always show immediate symptoms.
It would be wise to have your doctor examine you
as soon as possible even if you are uncertain if
you sustained an injury.
BILL OF RIGHTS
Florida has personal injury protection insurance
which is known as "no-fault insurance,"
which all vehicle owners are required by law to
carry. This insurance will potentially reimburse
expenses up to $10,000.Your insurance company will
pay 80 percent to all reasonable expenses for necessary
medical care and treatment. Such benefits may also
include remedial treatment and services recognized
and permitted under the laws of the state for an
injured person who relies upon spiritual means through
prayer alone for healing in accordance with his
or her religious beliefs. Your insurance company
will also pay 60 percent of any loss of gross income
or loss of earning capacity. They will also pay
60 percent of all expenses reasonably occurred in
obtaining from other ordinary and necessary services
in lieu of those that, but for the injury, the injured
person would have performed for the benefit of the
household. Please note that just because you or
your doctor feel expenses are related to the accident
that does not guarantee payment.Your insurance contract
may also have medical payments coverage. Your insurance
company must apportion claims between the PIP and
medical payments coverage to maximize your benefits
and you should request that it do so.Check your
coverage carefully and review your policy with legal
counsel.When an injury claim is filed under a no-fault
insurance policy, the company must send you a "bill
of rights"Ca state-approved form explaining
precisely what benefits you are entitled to and
how quickly the company must pay them. The law provides
interest on covered PIP benefits not timely paid.
It also provides for fines to be assessed against
PIP insurers by the Department of Insurance for
failure to pay benefits within the prescribed time.
See your lawyer for more details.
COMPLY WITH INSURANCE LAWS
Everyone who lives in Florida or who operates a
motor vehicle here for over 90 days a year must
have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.If
you are also entitled to receive similar benefits
from a major medical or disability insurance policy,
Medicare, military pension benefits, or other sources,
you should ask your auto insurance company about
a policy which will provide a deduction to allow
for such other payments. The rates on such a policy
may be significantly cheaper than standard policy
rates. Since most other insurance policies protect
the company against double payments for the same
expenses, you may not lose any benefits with the
You may also purchase insurance to cover damage
to your auto, auto liability insurance, medical
payments coverage and uninsured motorist coverage.Auto
liability insurance may be very important to you.
It protects those who are "insureds" from
legal liability for bodily injury or property damage
to others, caused by auto accidents. Further, the
insurer agrees to defend insureds against all liability
claims for which coverage is afforded. Please note
if you do not purchase enough coverage you may be
personally held responsible for damages over your
policy limit.Auto liability is the most common way
of complying with the Florida Financial Responsibility
Law.Uninsured Motorist Protection should seriously
be considered and may be one of the best bargains
in auto insurance. In effect, you are establishing
insurance coverage for those situations in which
the other at fault driver is uninsured or insufficiently
insured. If you or someone else under your policy
was seriously injured, a claim could be made against
your own carrier for all damages recognized by the
laws of Florida
MAKE NO PAYMENTS
The driver of the other car cannot force you to
pay anything without legal proceedings, and you
or the other driver's insurance company must pay
for damages in many instances. Accordingly, you
should carefully consider the circumstances before
making payments to the other driver for damage to
car or property. You would be prudent to seek the
advice of your insurance agent and your lawyer.
DISPUTES REGARDING PIP BENEFITS
In the event you are having a dispute with the insurer
for PIP benefits you may demand mediation of the
claim before resorting to the courts by filing a
request with the Department of Insurance on a form
provided by the department. For a small fee, mediation
is an informal process whereby a neutral mediator
selected by the Department of Insurance will work
together with you and the insurer to resolve the
dispute. You may reach the department at a local
service office or call 1-800-342-2762. You should
consult an attorney prior to such proceedings in
order to ensure your rights are fully protected.
- SELECT YOUR OWN LAWYER
Do not allow anyone to rush you into a settlement.
You may be entitled to significantly more, or, conversely,
you may not be obligated to pay as much. By consulting
a lawyer you will safeguard your own rights. Attorneys
are designated in specialties to aid in selection.
Any attempt by lawyers to contact you for employment
without your request should be reported to The Florida
Bar. You must select counsel and be wary of attempts
to solicit you as a client.
The material in this pamphlet represents general legal
advice. Since the law is continually changing, some
provisions in this pamphlet may be out of date. It is
always best to consult an attorney about your legal
rights and responsibilities regarding your particular