While personal injury cases can cover a wide variety of events, some of the most common in Florida include slip-and-falls or other accidental injuries; product liability, including defective equipment at recreational parks, activities, or sports; car accidents and other vehicular accidents, including off-road vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrian injuries; medical malpractice; and worker’s compensation cases.
Many people have some misconceptions about personal injury cases in Florida which may prevent them from receiving the compensation they deserve for their expenses, past, present, and future, as well as their pain and suffering. As a personal injury lawyer and Florida resident, I am driven to protect the rights of injured individuals against big businesses, insurance companies, and medical institutions that have the financial resources to prevent people from getting the compensation they deserve. If you need an advocate who knows how to fight the system and win, contact me.
Myth #1: I can sue any time I want, as long as there was an accident of some kind.
This is wrong on two fronts. First, in Florida, there are statutes of limitations. Recent changes in the law set the limitations as follows:
- Two-year limit: Personal injury involving negligence of a third party which occurred after March 24, 2023; wrongful death; some product liability; workers’ compensation; legal malpractice; medical malpractice
- Four-year limit: Automobile accidents and other vehicle accidents; property damage; assault and battery; some product liability; personal injury involving negligence which occurred on or before March 24, 2023
There are exceptions, the most important being when you discovered the connection between your injury and the incident, so contact me or another personal injury lawyer before assuming you missed the deadline. Do not delay in seeking compensation.
Second, Florida law requires that the plaintiffs in personal injury cases prove:
- The person or business who caused your injury owed you a duty of care
- The person or business was negligent in that duty
- You suffered an injury or damage that was caused by the breach of duty
- The injury or damage can be demonstrated legally
Examples that do not fulfill these four requirements might include not being injured while riding a faulty amusement park ride, or taking bad medical advice from someone you met at a cocktail party who claimed to be a doctor.
However, if you have been injured and can fulfill these four requirements, you can seek compensation for any of the following situations that apply:
- Medical costs, current and future
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Other expenses caused by the accident, such as necessary changes to your home to accommodate your injuries
- Loss of companionship in the case of serious permanent injury or death
Myth #2: I can’t sue because it was my fault
Florida follows a “pure comparative negligence” standard, meaning fault is distributed between parties in an accident. For instance, if you have sustained injuries in an accident judged to be 50% your fault, you would receive 50% of the award.
Myth #3: I don’t need a lawyer, and legal fees will consume my award, anyway
False, on both counts. First, insurance companies are motivated to save as much money as possible and will always lowball an offer of compensation. Without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who knows all the potential complications and expenses to look into before deciding on a settlement, and who knows all the tactics insurance companies use to keep your compensation to a minimum, you will not get the compensation you deserve.
Second, most personal injury attorneys, including myself, work on contingency – if you do not get a settlement, we do not get paid. This is certainly an incentive for an attorney to be as diligent as possible to thoroughly research your case and be prepared to counter any arguments presented by the insurance company. In my case, I am not just motivated to get paid; when I select a client to work with, I treat that person’s case as if he or she were my own family member in need of help, and I do my utmost to make sure you get the settlement you deserve.
Myth #4: My cousin/friend/relative is a lawyer; I’ll ask him to help me
Unless your friend or relative is a personal injury lawyer with a long history of success in winning significant awards for his clients, you are making a big mistake. Personal injury law is not like criminal law or corporate law. And you don’t want to be the one that your fresh-out-of-law-school cousin makes his mistakes on. Contact an experienced and successful personal injury attorney.
Myth #5: If I sue, I will be mixed up in a long court battle
Most personal injury cases are settled out of court because insurance companies know that court cases with juries can be bad news for them. Not only is it more expensive to go to court, but juries tend to be sympathetic to individuals who sue big business. While I have taken cases to court and won substantial awards for my clients, most of the time, insurance companies are willing to offer my clients substantial settlements, because I do my homework and they know I have a solid case.
Myth #6: I don’t have the heart to sue. The person at fault doesn’t have the money anyway, and I wouldn’t want to bankrupt another person or a mom-and-pop store and make their lives miserable, too
While that is very kind of you, the truth is, rarely do individuals pay personal injury claims; their insurance companies will be the ones who pay. This is why the previous answers all focused on the insurance companies and big businesses. And depending upon your case, there may be a different plaintiff. For instance, if you bought a faulty product from a local hardware store and you were injured by the product, it is more likely that we would sue the manufacturer or designer of the product, not the local store.
These are the important considerations that I will discuss with you to determine the best approach to take to give you the best chance for significant compensation. Contact me at (954) 448-7288, 24/7 for a free consultation to see how I can help you.