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Complete Guide to Personal Injury Lawyers and Lawsuits

Have a question about personal injury? Whether it’s about a personal injury lawsuit, compensation, or your own role in the process, we’re hopefully going to cover it all in this guide. Without further ado, let’s get started!

  1. Importance of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Often, we’re asked why it’s necessary to file a lawsuit, and this is an interesting question. Not considering the specifics of any case for a moment, you might say that a personal injury lawsuit will bring guilty parties responsible for their actions. For example, with a car accident, it’s possible to have one party walk away with little damage and another with doctor’s appointments for the next decade. With a personal injury lawyer, negligence is punished, and the victim gets the support they deserve.

Moving away from principles and setting a precedent, we also need to consider the real cost of any personal injury. In small accidents, we’re able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and get on with our lives. In more serious accidents, the victim experiences all sorts of injuries. What does this mean? Well, it leads to;

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Future medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity

Why should you pay for these medical bills when you weren’t to blame for the injury in the first place? Especially when you aren’t in a position to earn money during recovery, there’s a potential for all sorts of financial consequences. With The Injury Firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL, or another experienced and reliable personal injury lawyer by your side, it’s possible to earn compensation not only for expenses that have already arisen but for any that will arise in the future too.

Ultimately, this means your family can survive even with the extra medical bills and loss of income. Rather than having to struggle through and make sacrifices, you can maintain a certain standard of living as if the accident hadn’t happened at all.

In society, personal injury lawsuits have tremendous value on the whole. As well as allowing victims to obtain compensation, they make negligent parties accountable for their actions. When we visit a store, get into our car, or visit a hospital, we don’t expect the negligence of another person to change the course of our lives. While some accidents cause a minor inconvenience, others change lives, and this is where the personal injury industry is so important. If your life has been changed as a result of an accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve compensation (you also need it to survive!).

Fortunately, as we’re going to see today, filing a claim is easier than ever before. By working with a professional team, they will take the pressure from your shoulders and you can focus on recovery. Often, you won’t pay anything until the compensation is received.

  1. The Value of Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

Now we know the importance of making a claim and filing a case, how do you know whether or not you have a case in the first place? As personal injury attorneys, one of the most common questions we receive regards the value of potential cases. In truth, there’s no magical number that we can offer here as an answer to this question. Since every case is unique, it needs to be handled as such.

This being said, what we can do is talk about fault and the factors that affect the amount victims receive.

Personal Injury Fault

When you hire a personal injury lawyer, one of the first tasks will be to apportion the blame for the accident. To receive compensation, somebody needs to be ‘at fault’. Depending on the case, this might not be as easy as pointing the finger in one direction. There are certainly cases where the defendant is fully responsible for an injury, but there’s also the possibility of two or more parties sharing responsibility.

If we look at a slip and fall accident as an example, it might be determined that the victim was 15% responsible for the accident. In this scenario, the defendant will only need to pay 85% of medical bills, lost income, and other compensation.

With slip and fall cases especially, proving fault is notoriously difficult. As lawyers, we need to prove that:

  • The owner/manager/staff were aware of a particular hazardous condition

OR

  • The owner/manager/staff SHOULD have been aware of a particular hazardous condition

If we can show that the responsible parties didn’t take the appropriate steps to keep the premises safe for all visitors, this makes obtaining compensation much easier. We may be able to show that the manager should have been aware, that they were aware and didn’t fix it, or that they didn’t sufficiently warn others as to the hazard.

With something like a car accident, the fault is usually awarded to one party or the other. Considering the police will normally cite one person as the guilty party after violating a specific traffic law, this makes it easier to ascertain blame. Just because the police didn’t take this step, don’t worry just yet. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to prove fault.

So, with personal injury fault, we have the first half of working out the value of any potential case. If the other party is completely to blame, you may be able to receive 100% of damages. If you share some of the blame, the compensation package will be smaller.

Proving Injury

The second half of compensation is all about proving injury; we know there’s been an accident, but is the injury serious and is it linked directly to the accident itself? Injuries are evaluated in a number of different ways;

  • Pre-Existing Injuries - Firstly, we need to prove that your injuries didn’t exist before the accident. If we can show that you had no injuries before the accident, it will be easier to link your new injuries with the accident. If you did have existing injuries, we’ll need to work harder to show that the accident still caused new problems.
  • The seriousness of Injuries - When it comes to damage to the body, there’s a certain subjectivity to them. Of course, we have obvious injuries like severe burns, broken bones, and lacerations. From here, we move down to ligament damage, herniated disks, and others that aren’t quite so obvious. The job of a personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale is to prove that these subjective injuries still deserve compensation.
  • Required Treatment - Typically, those who require invasive medical treatment will receive more money in compensation. Likewise, this is true for multiple hospital stays, visits to the emergency room, surgeries, and more.
  • Medical Treatment Timing - Did you get medical attention immediately? The answer to this question may just be the difference between success and failure with a claim. If you didn’t get treatment straight away, the defendant will argue that your injuries weren’t too serious.
  • Impact and Permanency - While some injuries disappear within weeks, others stay with us for many years or even life, so this is the next consideration. With car accidents, doctors will need to classify your injuries as ‘permanent’ in order for compensation to be awarded. Also, those who have injuries that have changed their life on a day-to-day basis will get more compensation.

In addition to these considerations to proving an injury, your legal team will also think about medical bills and lost wages. The higher these numbers, the more likely you are to get considerable compensation to cover them.

How do you know the value of your personal injury lawsuit? It all comes down to proving fault and then proving injury. After this, it’s also important to remember insurance since these providers are normally the ones paying out as opposed to the individuals themselves.

  1. Possible Compensation in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

We’ve spoken briefly about the compensation victims receive after an accident, but we want to go into more detail. Not only do we want to explain each, but we’re also going to look into how they work and what you can expect. Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of misconceptions when it comes to emotional distress and pain and suffering, so we hope this section will clear up any questions you may have.

In any claim, the goal of the lawsuit will be to obtain compensation for the plaintiff. Sometimes referred to as ‘damages’, this is a financial package equivalent to the harm caused to the plaintiff. In law, this whole procedure is allowed so that victims aren’t left with terrible financial consequences after something that wasn’t their fault.

Depending on the accident, your case may contain one of several of the following. While some relate to specific costs you’ve incurred, others are considered ‘non-economic’ costs and this is where the insurance company or judge need to view subjective evidence.

Lost Income

All the time you’re getting treatment and recovering from an injury, you might not be able to work. From using a sick day to go to an appointment to taking full weeks off for surgery, this is the first possible compensation feature. In the most severe cases, we’ve seen people unable to return to their job due to physical or mental restraints. Regardless of how long you miss from work, a lawyer will attempt to recuperate these lost wages.

Medical Expenses

Perhaps the most common and well-known part of compensation comes in the shape of all medical expenses associated with the injury. After a personal accident, you might need emergency care, medication, tests, treatments, appointments with specialists, stays overnight, and more. With more serious injuries, it continues with physiotherapy and check-up appointments for many months.

In any personal injury lawsuit, the aim is to recover not only current medical expenses but future expenses too; this way, there’s no need for a second lawsuit in the future. If the defendant is to blame completely, you shouldn’t have to pay out for any medical expenses.

Emotional Distress

Physical injuries are bad enough, but unfortunately, there’s also a risk to mental health after a serious accident. Whether a car accident or medical malpractice, victims may feel anxiety or depression. With the former, it’s even possible to experience post-traumatic stress disorder and other severe mental trauma. We feel less confident in visiting hospitals or getting behind the wheel, so we choose to hole ourselves up inside.

Historically, proving something like this is harder than lost income and medical expenses. Yet, it is possible with reports and records from psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists. If a specific psychiatric condition is diagnosed, compensation is achievable.

Pain and Suffering

You might have seen this phrase used with regards to compensation before, but what does it actually mean? Normally reserved for the most severe of injuries, it assesses the seriousness and depth of pain and suffering experienced as a result of the injury. Often pushing a claim into the millions (for a jury trial), it’s important to use every piece of evidence available to show the injury’s impact on the victim’s life.

If your injury only led to a couple of doctor’s appointments and you recovered within a week, you didn’t experience too much pain and suffering. On the other hand, you might have had several hospital and clinic visits, prescriptions, diagnoses, stays in the hospital, and more. When a recovery plan lasts weeks and months, this suggests significantly more pain and suffering.

As mentioned previously, the evidence is essential. For example, you need to prove that you’re doing everything possible to recover from your injuries. As long as you communicate with medical professionals, turn up to all appointments, and are proactive, you have a better chance of proving pain and suffering. Elsewhere, others have found success with videos, images, and written records of symptoms.

In terms of the financial rewards for pain and suffering, there isn’t a special formula that applies across all cases. Instead, you need to accurately present your injuries and the effect that they have had on your life. When the insurance adjuster or court receives this, they see the full extent of the pain and suffering and start to work towards a figure. The more evidence, the easier it is for a jury, judge, or insurance adjuster to see how this accident has affected your life.

Loss of Consortium

Otherwise known as ‘loss of companionship’, this is where potential injuries are so severe that a relationship with a partner or spouse is no longer possible. Whether it’s a serious injury or even death, the relationship is no longer viable (or possible to the extent previously) and compensation may be attainable in these circumstances.

Wrongful Death

Sadly, some personal injury cases are filed on behalf of a loved one who has died. As civil actions filed by partners, parents, children, or another loved one, the same principles apply to receive compensation. Mainly, the death must be a result of negligence or any form of misconduct.

If we look at a married couple with children as an example, a sudden death has terrible consequences. There’s a loss of love, financial support, companionship, and more. Suddenly, the surviving partner needs to pay bills, look after children, work, and do everything else alone. With this in mind, the courts can choose to provide compensation to make up for the huge loss (financially, of course).

Although every case is unique, wrongful death compensation is likely to cover the following;

  • Funeral expenses
  • Any leftover bills
  • Lost income

As well as these financial factors, the system is designed to consider the non-economic costs of losing a loved one. For children, they lose instruction, guidance, and parental companionship. For partners, they lose not only the financial help but the support and love too.

Punitive Damages

Finally, although not applicable to all cases, there might be a scenario where the victim wants to make an example of the defendant and the case. While all the compensation features that we’ve discussed so far are about bringing the victim back into a healthy position (close to a state they were in before the accident), this one is about punishing egregious actions.

If the court sides in the victim’s favor, the punishment should be severe enough to warn other companies of similar actions. Normally, this isn’t something available to simple negligence or a lack of attention in a store. Instead, it’s designed for intentional actions or those that are so bad that a message needs to be sent that this isn’t acceptable.

Is it available for your case? We recommend talking to your personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. We should note that it isn’t an option in all states; also, a jury can only award so much to a plaintiff.

  1. Different Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits

At The Injury Firm, there are some personal injury cases we see more than others. Although we advise getting in contact with an experienced personal injury lawyer, here are a few of the most common examples:

Slip and Fall Accident

Firstly, we have slip and fall accidents that sound light but can actually reach very serious levels. We don’t go to a store thinking we will get injured, but it, unfortunately, does happen more than we might think. Whether a company store or even somebody else’s property, it’s very rare that we fall due to sheer clumsiness. There are many reasons why we might experience an accident of this type;

  • Spilled food or drink
  • Leaks
  • Broken facilities
  • Loose railings
  • Damaged steps
  • Cracks in the flooring
  • Upturned carpet or mats

With the potential of breaking an arm or dislocating a shoulder, we’re forced to take medical care and take time from work. As we saw in the section above, these both deserve compensation (as long as the victim isn’t to blame at all!).

Motor Vehicle Accident

With more cars on the road with each passing year, we can only control our own driving. Sadly, we take a risk every time we get behind the wheel and trust that every other driver is paying the same level of attention and care. What have we learned in recent years? They aren’t.

Cars are generally the most common case, but we’ve also dealt with motorcycles, trucks, pedestrian, boats, electric scooters, and many other vehicles. Essentially, cars are metal machines that have the potential to cause serious harm. They’re designed to be efficient and effective on the road, not hit one another. While some people experience whiplash and cuts/bruises, others suffer very serious head injuries, broken bones, deep lacerations, and life-changing injuries.

With the most severe motor vehicle accidents, they leave the victim needing long-term care and this is where a personal injury lawyer can help.

Injuries During Birth

When we go into the hospital, we put our lives in the hands of those who have trained extensively to deal with our ailments. When pregnant, our trust goes into obstetricians and other medical professionals. Of course, these professionals do a fantastic job…but they’re also human. Regretfully, they do make mistakes, and this can lead to problems for the newborn baby, the parents, and the whole family.

In the past, we’ve seen some heartbreaking cases where negligence and poor care leads to brain damage, cerebral palsy, and even paralysis. Giving birth is such a sensitive process, and these professionals can’t afford to make mistakes. In some cases, the parents are left with a lifetime of medical bills to cover in what was previously a healthy baby.

Animal Bites

Next up, we love our pets and they quickly become a part of the family. However, animals still rely on their instincts and it’s possible for them to bite from time to time. Most commonly, we deal with dog bites and they actually have the potential to be very serious.

Is the owner liable? In many cases, yes. Depending on the scenario, you may be able to file a lawsuit on the homeowners’ insurance and/or the owner themselves. With serious dog bites, there’s a physical injury but there’s also the risk of mental health issues. For some, they can’t be around dogs because they fear the same thing will happen again. With a lawsuit, we need to claim back medical expenses, lost income, and emotional distress.

Just to keep things simple (or perhaps not!), every state is different when it comes to dog bites. Generally speaking, the owner will take responsibility for the actions of their dog; this is true even if they weren’t aware that their dog had an aggressive streak. The reason why dog bite cases are sometimes difficult is that the defendant may suggest that the victim provoked the animal or caused it in another way. In some states, factors like this will be considered before deciding on compensation.

Security Negligence

In another example, it might be poor security practices that lead to particular injuries or death. These days, security is an important feature of schools, concerts, stores, parking garages, hospitals, and various other locations. If a business, organization, or security team had inadequate security practices and this caused your injury, there’s a potential for compensation.

Often, there’s confusion about the recipient of the negligent security lawsuit but it’s normally the owner of the land. If somebody is assaulted, raped, or shot in a particular location, the police will obviously work hard to find the perpetrator of this crime. However, the negligent security lawsuit goes to the landowner and the argument is that correct security procedures may have prevented the crime from occurring.

In order to win a case like this, the offense needs to have been foreseeable. In other words, it’s hard to get compensation when the other party couldn’t have foreseen the event. If a door should have been locked or guarded and it wasn’t, any potential crimes would be a result of negligent security. If the event cannot be foreseen and the owner took all the appropriate security steps, compensation is unlikely.

In our experience, we’ve seen various security negligence cases including a failed alarm system, poor lighting, a lack of staffing, and other failures.

Spinal Cord or Brain Injuries

Though not a specific event, we wanted to speak about spinal cord and brain injuries briefly because they are extremely serious. Regardless of whether it occurs in a car accident or in any other way, it changes one’s life instantly. While some experience cognitive impairment and other conditions, others suffer from part/full paralysis.

In injuries like this, there are more victims than just the injured; the family also suffer, and their lives are changed by the negligence too. By gathering photographs, police reports, medical records, and other evidence, it’s possible to get the right outcome with a case.

Wrongful Death

Finally, we spoke about this in the previous section and it’s another problem we see in Fort Lauderdale. Rather than claiming for your own accident and injury, you might be reading this guide on behalf of a loved one who has passed away. Firstly, we’re sorry for your loss. Secondly, compensation is possible so long as there is a negligent or guilty party for the accident. As well as medical expenses and missing income, you also need to deal with the cost of the funeral, and this is where a personal injury lawyer will help.

With wrongful death cases, there’s more on the side of non-economic claims because a family may have lost a parent, child, sibling, etc. Nearly every compensation feature will appear in a wrongful death claim including loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and more.

  1. How Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?

If you’re wondering why you even need a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit, there are actually a number of reasons. First and foremost, it means you have an expert in the field to handle your case while you recover from an injury or the death of a loved one. Since they spend every day working in this area, they know what your case needs in order to obtain compensation.

After this, they help to gather evidence and avoid the common mistakes that some make. For example, insurance adjusters will likely need a statement. During the interview, they may ask leading questions to apportion some of the blame to you. Without legal help and people who have experience dealing with these tactics, you may fall into a trap and reduce the compensation potential significantly.

Elsewhere, they can help with:

  • Questioning and getting statements from witnesses
  • Investigating the accident
  • Visiting the scene for pictures/videos
  • Contacting medical professionals
  • Compiling all medical documentation and other important evidence
  • Building a reconstruction of the accident
  • Doing everything that needs to be done to compile a strong lawsuit and get the compensation you deserve

What’s more, they will also communicate with the defendant’s attorney, attend settlement meetings, and get ready for court if a settlement isn’t an option.

  1. What Do You Do in a Lawsuit?

We know about the lawyer, but what about yourself? Well, the lawyer will take most of the pressure and responsibility. As long as you turn up to all doctor appointments, don’t admit blame to ANYONE, and document your experience (symptoms), you’ll be just fine.

To make things easier, you should also;

  • Hand all documentation across to the lawyer
  • Be open with communication
  • Always ask any questions you have
  1. Personal Injury Lawsuit: Step-By-Step Guide

How does a personal injury lawsuit actually work? Assuming the accident has taken place, a standard case will follow the steps below;

  • Step 1: Contact a Lawyer - Firstly, we recommend contacting an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. The earlier you arrange representation, the more likely they are to recover evidence, contact witnesses, and compile a strong lawsuit. At The Injury Firm, we have the experience, credibility, passion, and a reliable approach to personal injury cases.
  • Step 2: Compile a Case - With a signed retainer agreement, it’s time to build the case. Your lawyer will gather evidence, talk to witnesses, photograph the scene, handle employment history, medical documentation, and everything else required to boost the claim.
  • Step 3: Negotiate a Settlement - If the company or individual admits to their wrongdoing and wants a resolution as quickly as possible, they will offer a settlement package outside of court. If the ‘demand letter’ is rejected by the company, the process moves forward to the next step.
  • Step 4: File a Lawsuit - In many cases, the settlement discussions are unsuccessful as the other party either outright rejects or offers much less than you deserve. If this is the case, your lawyer will concentrate on filing a lawsuit instead.
  • Step 5: Discovery Period - During this time, the documents and evidence are shared between parties. Your lawyer will continue to build the case and gather as much evidence as possible.
  • Step 6: Trial - Finally, a judge and jury will assess the case and all the hard work will hopefully get rewarded when they side in your favor. Your attorney will present the evidence, bring up expert witnesses, and do everything they need to do to get the compensation.

At The Injury Firm, we have a fantastic track record of helping personal injury victims to get compensation for lost income, medical expenses, and more. In fact, we know that many companies worry when they see our name representing individuals and this reputation will help you hugely in the coming weeks. If no settlement is reached, we aren’t afraid of going to the courtroom.

  1. Personal Injury Settlement - How Does It Work?

As we’ve just seen, not every personal injury claim in Fort Lauderdale will go to court. In some cases, the damages will be agreed by the two attorneys without even stepping foot in a courtroom. If the lost income, medical expenses, and other compensation are all agreed, there’s no need to file a lawsuit and delay the process.

Of course, your attorney will always make decisions based on your case and what’s right for YOU. Therefore, they won’t just accept the first offer and let you deal with the consequences. Instead, they will consider the expenses you’ve already encountered, further costs, and non-economic costs. Over a period of time, your attorney will communicate with the opposing counsel until an agreeable fee is finally reached. If the opposing counsel doesn’t offer what the lawyer thinks is appropriate, the case will go to court.

Accepting an Offer

If both parties agree on an amount, most people receive the money within around six weeks. Generally speaking, federal and state laws don’t tax personal injury settlements. This being said, some exceptions exist, and this includes an emotional claim with no physical injuries. If you have any questions about whether you have to declare the settlement for tax purposes, just ask your attorney.

Will Your Case Settle?

This depends on the case, the lawyer, the evidence, and other factors. If the defendant sees that they have clearly made a mistake and that a court case would only delay the inevitable, they may offer to pay a settlement. Elsewhere, they might want to keep the case as quiet as possible which means preventing a court case. In some cases, they even settle because they know the opposing attorney has a great track record (like us at The Injury Firm!).

  1. How Much Will You Need to Pay?

We know what you’re thinking, ‘I can’t possibly afford a lawyer when I’ve got lots of medical bills while also not working’, and this is a fair concern. However, with The Injury Firm, you don’t have to pay anything upfront. With no out-of-pocket expenses, we even assess your case for free. If you want us to take a look at the case and provide advice as to whether or not compensation is likely, just dial our number today: 954-951-0000

If you want to go ahead with us, you still won’t pay anything. We only ever take a fee when the settlement or reward comes in. When you receive compensation, this is when we take a fee. If the case fails, you don’t owe us anything. The fact that we’ve taken on your case means that we’re confident; failing to get compensation would be a failure on our part, so you pay absolutely nothing.

At The Injury Firm, we’re experienced personal injury lawyers and we’re passionate about what we do. Why should guilty parties get away with negligence? We believe that innocent parties should get compensation rather than struggling through difficult times financially. For this reason, we work on this contingency fee system and keep all the pressure off you while you recover.

  1. Case Statute of Limitations

To finish, we should also address the issue of the statute of limitations with personal injury cases. If you haven’t heard this phrase previously, it describes the time that somebody has to file a claim. In some states, if you wait 12 or 24 months, you can’t then file a lawsuit.

If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault and have injuries as a result, we recommend getting in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. Not only is it easier to gather evidence soon after the accident, you also don’t run the risk of missing out.

Summary

Thank you for reading this guide, we hope you’ve learned everything you need to know about personal injury lawsuits and personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale. Remember, you may be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured as a result of somebody else’s negligence. Even if we’re talking about a national company with thousands of stores across the country, they’re still accountable and you deserve compensation.

With The Injury Firm in Fort Lauderdale, FL, we can get the conversation started for no cost. Ask any questions, allow us to review your case, and then make a decision from here. With our support, we can get money for your medical bills (both now and in the future), lost income, and even emotional distress and pain and suffering!  Call today for a FREE CASE EVALUATION: 954-951-0000.

The Injury Firm
2000 N.E. 45th Street
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308

Phone (954) 951-0000
Fax: (954) 951-1000
Email: info@flinjuryfirm.com

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Fort Lauderdale

2000 N.E. 45th Street
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308

Phone (954) 951-0000
Fax: (954) 951-1000
Email: info@flinjuryfirm.com

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West Palm Beach, Florida 33401
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Toll-free: 833-332-1333
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Disclaimer

The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only.  This website may contain information about The Injury Firm's past results, testimonials about the firm or a lawyer within the firm, and statements regarding the quality of The Injury Firm's work product. This information has not been reviewed or approved by The Florida Bar. Please be advised that: 1) the facts and circumstances of your case may differ from the matters for which results and testimonials have been provided: 2) Not all results of cases handled by the firm or its lawyers are provided and not all clients have given testimonials; and 3) The results and testimonials provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the firm or by its lawyers or of the experience of all clients or others within the firm or its lawyers. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

  

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