Auto Accident Injuries Require an Experienced and Compassionate Attorney!
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Auto Accident Injuries - 25 Years Experience and an Unmatched Guarentee
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My office’s primary area experience is representing clients whom have been injured in automobile accidents. One of the things I do during an initial free consultation with a client is explain the different components of a personal injury action stemming from an automobile accident. Primarily, an automobile accident case comes down to two things: Liability and Damages. Below is a brief description of what is frequently discussed during a consultation.
Before I address “damages,” I’ll explain a little about liability, because regardless of how large the damages are, unless you have a case for proving liability you will have no valid claim. When lawyers talk about “liability,” we are really talking about “fault.” In other words, who was at fault in causing the accident? The legal concept of “negligence” comes in to play here, which involves proof that the other motorist breached a legal duty to you (the duty to pay attention, keep a proper distance, travel at a safe speed, etc.). It has been my experience that the vast majority of the time, when I meet with a new client, this is the easiest part of an automobile accident case. However, I have handled numerous cases where fault was an issue. In fact, as recently as this year I took a case all the way to a jury trial just over the issue of fault.
Recently, by obtaining video from a red light camera, I was able to prove that my client had the green light and was NOT at fault. If the insurance adjuster is wrongly claiming you are to blame, or partly to blame, then you will definitely want to talk with an attorney.
Now, let us assume that you have a strong case of proving “fault” or “liability” on the part of the other motorist. While at this point you would clearly have a strong case for recovering property damage to your car, this does not necessarily mean you have a valid injury case. You still must prove that as a result of the other person’s negligence you have suffered losses (more commonly referred to as a claimant’s “damages”).
Assuming that the other motorist caused the accident, the following addresses the most common types of losses an injured motorist will seek to recover in a bodily injury claim:
- Past Lost Wages: If you have lost wages as a result of the motor vehicle accident at the time your case is resolved, then you are entitled to be compensated for those losses.
- Future Impairment of Earning Capacity: If you are no longer able to work, not able to work as much, or if you are in a lower paying job due to your injuries, you are entitled to claim damages for future wage loss. This may be true even if you are earning the same income after the accident, but there is reason to believe (and we can prove) that you will not be able to work as long in your career due to residual medical problems that are progressive, and that will likely affect future earnings.
- Past Medical Expenses: At the time of a settlement or verdict, you will likely (but not always) have outstanding medical expenses. This area can be most complex than it sounds, and requires a good legal knowledge of how such losses should be computed. For example, medical expenses paid by your own auto insurance company under Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage do not amount to “out of pocket” medicals, because you do not have to pay them back from your injury settlement. On the other hand, your private health insurer and other entities that paid for treatment frequently do have a right to be reimbursed.This is another example of when having an experienced attorney can be of utmost importance. My staff and I keep close track of all medical expenses by frequently updating a spreadsheet known as a “Medical Matrix.” This matrix keeps track of each medical provider, how much it has been paid, who paid it, and any outstanding balance. By keeping these expenses current, we assure ourselves that we are not overlooking medical debts that must be satisfied at the time of settlement.
- Future Medical Expenses: It is IMPORTANT to know that an old cliché applies in an injury claim: YOU GET ONE BITE AT THE APPLE! Of course, by this I mean that once you resolve your claim, in almost every instance you cannot reopen the case later for any reason. Therefore, it is essential to recover sufficient money to pay not only for your past damages, but future damages as well. If your doctor has rendered an opinion that you will require future care, than this becomes a part of your claim, and must be factored into any analysis of a claim’s fair value. Future care can involve many types of treatment. Such future care could involve the likelihood that you will require future surgery, or that you may just need periodic massages, injections, or medication therapy. An experienced attorney will make certain that all of these things are factored into negotiations with the insurance company.
- Past and Future Pain, Suffering, and Mental Anguish: If you have been permanently injured as a result of the automobile accident, then you are entitled to fair compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering. Pain and suffering involves quality of life issues. For example, if prior to your injuries you enjoyed spending time in the garden (or bowling, golfing, etc.), and now such activities create painful flare-ups, then your quality of life is affected. If you can no longer do previous activities at all, then again your quality of life has been negatively altered and affected.Additionally, if you are depressed or anxious due to your injuries, or relations with your significant other are impacted, then that can also affect your quality of life. You are entitled to fair compensation for these damages, and my firm and I are very aggressive at seeking full compensation for our clients whom have had their quality of life affected due to an automobile accident.
Not to be overlooked is that your spouse may have his or her own claim for loss of support and services (a consortium claim). Without significant injuries to the injured plaintiff, juries are commonly reluctant to award large amounts of money to a spouse. Nonetheless, if your spouse has been negatively affected and suffered losses due to your injuries, then he or she has a claim for “consortium damages.” Such losses could include a spouse who may now have to absorb a heavier workload in order to do those things around the house that you used to do before your injuries, as well as the impact to your personal lives.
Summary of Damages
I have summarized the most common types of damages seen in a Florida personal injury claim. There may be other types of damages due to unique circumstances involved in your claim, so this section is not intended to provide you with legal advice. You should call us for a FREE CONSULTATION so that I can discuss the specific facts of your case with you. Feel free to call me at 727-848-8892
Emily's True Story
After Getting Terrible Advice from Her First Attorney, Emily Hired Us to Takeover
Emily is a young woman in her 20s who hired a "mass marketing" firm. Like many people, Emily thought the person on the billboard must be a great attorney with so many billboards in town. She did not understand that law firms who use "mass marketing" also adopt an assembly line approach to cases. Emily's case was moving too quickly. When I met with her, she had $20,000 in unpaid medical bills and an attorney telling her that she should accept a $25,000 offer because that was "all she was legally entitled to receive." When Emily raised questions and refused to accept the offer, her attorney quit on her, sending her a letter telling her to get a new lawyer!
The first thing that jumped out at me was that the former attorney had offered to settle Emily's case for $30,000. This was going to be a big problem because there was a total of $100,000.00 to pursue ($50,000 in Bodily Injury coverage and $50,000 in Underinsured Motorist Coverage). By making such a low offer to settle, I knew the former attorney had greatly compromised the negotiating position. Secondly, and perhaps most startling, is that the accident was very bad and Emily had signs of post-concussion syndrome. She had not seen a neurologist, so any settlement discussions were premature. Once Emily saw a specialist, I made a demand for the first $50,000, which, of course, was rejected because the first attorney had already demanded less than the policy limits. I filed a lawsuit and within a few weeks Emily's case settled for the $50,000 policy limits. I then made a claim for the $50,000 in Uninsured Motorist Benefits and that was paid as well. With all said and done, Emily received the entire $100,000 available in coverages. Had she followed the advice of her first attorney, she would have owed money. Instead, even after paying her medical providers and a 1/3 attorney's fee, she received nearly $40,000 in her pocket!
Emily's case is a prime example of why it is so important to hire an attorney who will not run your case with an "assembly line" approach, but will instead fight for you!