Most people who file a Florida injury lawsuit are brand new to the process. They may have never given the notion a second thought – until something happened to them. Our West Palm Beach injury lawyers understand the prospect can feel overwhelming. Our goal as trusted civil trial lawyers is not only to fight for a fair resolution to your claim, but also to guide you through every step as painlessly as possible.
Although every civil injury lawsuit is different, there are a few frequently asked questions and common issues that arise early on.
Here, we’re offering the first five things to know before filing a Florida injury lawsuit.
- You must prove negligence. This is true in the majority of injury lawsuits – whether it’s a slip-and-fall or car accident or nursing home injuries. It’s not enough to show you were hurt – even if your injuries are severe. Your attorney will need to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, the defendant breached that duty, that breach of duty caused your physical injuries and your injuries cost you monetary damages. In some cases, there may be more than one defendant. Sometimes, YOU may even be found partially at-fault. You can still collect in these cases, but you do generally need to prove someone else was at least partly responsible for your injuries. The issue of negligence can be fairly straightforward, but it also might be more complicated than it appears at first blush. Consulting with an attorney about the details of what happened will give you a good sense of whether you’ve got a winnable case.
- You have a limited amount of time to file a claim/lawsuit. The sooner you call an attorney, the better. All states have statutes of limitations (how much time you have to pursue a charge or claim) which vary depending on the type of case. For most civil personal injury claims, F.S. 95.11 gives you four years from the date of the “cause of action” in which to file a claim. But there are several extenuating circumstances that can affect this. For example, if your claim is against a government entity, you only have three years to file (and you may have to file notice even sooner). If the injury results in death, you only have two years from the date of death to file. On the other hand, you might have longer if you didn’t know and reasonably couldn’t have discovered the cause of the injury or the person who caused it. Civil sexual abuse lawsuits may also allow for more time when the victim was a minor. All that said, the sooner you consult with an injury lawyer, the better because you want to have the best chance possible to collect all relevant evidence. The more time goes by, the more memories fade, surveillance footage could be taped over and other evidence may be destroyed.
- Don’t sign anything from an insurer before you talk to a lawyer – especially if you’re seriously hurt. It is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to try to convince those who were injured that lawyers needn’t be involved. Keep in mind: Insurers aren’t working for you. That includes your own insurer. They’re interested in their own bottom line, and it’s in their best interests to get you to settle your claim for less than it’s worth. If you hastily sign paperwork you don’t fully understand, you could be forever signing away your rights to a larger payout that you are rightfully owed. At the very least, talk to a lawyer first.
- You don’t pay anything upfront. This is a major concern for many personal injury claimants. They’ve already been hurt, they may be out-of-work for a time and struggling to pay their bills. Florida injury attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, and the schedule of these fees are regulated. A contingency fee means you don’t pay for attorney’s fees unless and until you win. Their fees are taken as a percentage of your final settlement or verdict. This gives your attorney incentive to be straight with you about your chances of success. It also means you don’t face an insurmountable hurdle just to access the courts when you do have a good case.
- There are two ways you can win a case. The two ways you can prevail in a Florida personal injury lawsuit are: Settlement and verdict. A settlement can be reached when the two sides negotiate an agreeable payment amount before the case is decided at a trial. That can occur before you even file a lawsuit and up to the point of jury deliberation. Most successful injury claims and lawsuits are settled out-of-court. A small percentage go to trial. Trials are expensive and time-consuming and emotionally-draining. They can also be worth it under the right circumstances. That’s why you want an injury lawyer with civil trial experience.
If you have any other questions, our compassionate, qualified team of civil injury attorneys is available to provide answers.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
Practice Areas: Personal Injury, The Florida Bar
More Blog Entries:
Filing a Florida Negligent Security Lawsuit, April 28, 2020, West Palm Beach Injury Lawyers Blog