Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people in Florida are injured every year in personal injury accidents. If you get injured because of another person’s negligence, you do not want to be stuck with high medical bills and lost wages. For these reasons, you should seek compensation for your losses.
However, before filing a personal injury claim, it is crucial that you enlist skilled Tampa personal injury lawyers. At Shrader Mendez & O’Connell, we guide you on how to file your injury claim and walk you through the claim process. Our experienced attorneys will also explain how the Florida personal injury claims process works, how to settle, and how long the claims process will take.
Different types of accidents and situations in Florida can cause personal injuries. The common incidents and accidents that can cause injury claims, include:
After you are involved in an accident because of another person’s negligence, you will need to seek compensation for your damages. Understandably, a personal injury case can seem daunting, but the more educated you are about the process, the less daunting it will be. Therefore, it is essential that you understand the process of your injury case.
Regardless of the nature of your situation, accidents can be frustrating, debilitating, or even deadly. Now is the time to think about your future and that of your loved ones. You can do this by documenting evidence about the case.
To document evidence, first, contact the police and give a statement, take pictures, gather witness information, get copies of everything (license plates, IDs, insurance cards, and more), and take notes of everything that could help your case. This can include weather conditions, traffic cameras, conditions on properties, and who you spoke to.
After a personal injury accident, you should seek medical attention. Be sure to take photographs of any visible injuries because you need evidence to help support your personal injury claims.
You may think that you are not injured after an accident due to the adrenaline and emotions of the accident, but it is still necessary to see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure you are entitled to your insurance benefits. In some accidents, injuries might not appear immediately because, according to Medical News Today, the adrenaline rush and shock may mask your pain. Keep in mind that your insurance company may deny compensating you if you do not seek treatment because they will argue that you were not really injured.
Some personal injury victims may want to wait and see what the insurance company will offer them. However, using an attorney during the settlement process can often help you obtain a more favorable settlement than an insurance company would offer you individually. At Shrader & Mendez, our Tampa personal injury lawyers will offer you the much-needed legal advice during your free consultation.
According to a recent study, personal injury victims who hired an attorney in their case received a settlement 3.5 times larger than those who pursued their injury claims on their own. Your lawyer will assess your case and determine the best approach.
Your Tampa personal injury lawyers will interview you on how the accident occurred, medical conditions before the accident, and background information. Additionally, they will want to know where you received medical treatment for your injuries. This will prepare for your case and prevent any surprises later. Therefore, it is important that you be honest with your lawyer and disclose or vital information, including any large debts you may have.
While some of the questions may seem irrelevant, they may affect your case indirectly. Being as honest as possible with your lawyer will help them to adequately prepare for your case. For example, an insurance company may claim that your injuries were pre-existing before the accident. For your attorney to combat the defense, they will need your past medical history.
In Florida, most injury cases are settled outside the court. While this can be a good thing, in some situations, it is not. At Shrader & Mendez, our experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers will analyze your case and are prepared to go to court, if needed.
Your attorney will make a claim to the at-fault insurance company before they file a lawsuit. If the personal injury claim is related to a car accident, your personal injury attorney will assess and review the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to confirm insurance coverage. At times, the at-fault driver is only carrying the minimum requirements for automobile insurance, which includes personal injury proportion and property damage. Because of this, your personal injury attorney will also review your insurance policy to confirm if there is any uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage,. However, if the accident was not due to a car crash, your lawyer will identify who was at fault, obtain insurance information and file a claim with the appropriate party or entity.
Once your lawyer has made a claim, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate your case and negotiate a settlement. In case an insurance company is not involved, your attorney will draft a demand letter laying down everything about your claim and demanding compensation directly from the negligent party.
Your attorney will try to negotiate a better settlement with the claims adjuster, but if a settlement is not reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit. According to the Florida Statutes, you can file a personal injury lawsuit within four years after the injury or accident against the at-fault driver and within five years against your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. But the earlier you file a lawsuit, the better.
While lawsuits are not always the best course of action, insurance companies often respond with a better offer once a lawsuit is filed against them. Your lawyer will file a complaint in the Circuit or County Court in the County where you sustained injuries or where the at-fault driver resides, and request the Clerk of Court issue summons. Once the lawsuit is initiated, the litigation phase of your claim will commence. This means that all negotiations will have to be through the legal counsel.
This is the process where each party investigates the other party’s legal claims and defenses. In Florida, each party is allowed to submit written inquiries to the other. For example, the rules allow both parties to serve interrogatories. The interrogatories will inquire into your personal injuries, medical providers you have seen, and all damages you have incurred.
The next step is to schedule depositions. The defense counsel will subpoena your medical records before deposing you. A deposition involves giving testimony while under oath in response to questions from defense counsel. At this point, the defendant may hire a physician to perform a CME (Compulsory Medical Exam), whereby the doctor will assess the injuries and provide their opinion on whether the injuries are related to the accident. Your attorney will be present with you at the deposition and answer your questions through every step of the process.
After collecting information from discovery, attorneys from both sides may try and settle again through alternative dispute resolution. They might involve a mediator to help them settle. According to Florida law, this is often compulsory before the case goes to trial.
When parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial. During the trial, all information gathered through discovery is presented for the jury to decide who is responsible for the damages and the amount of compensation owed.
The purpose of the Florida personal injury law is to help victims who have been injured due to other people’s negligence. This means that you must prove the person or people were responsible for the injuries you sustained. Proving negligence requires four things:
1. Duty of care
All people have an obligation to others to not harm them or place them in harm’s way. In personal injury cases, there is a limit. For example, a business owner or manager has to keep employees and customers safe from harm by fixing broken steps and cleaning spills. This means that they must take reasonable steps to keep both workers and employees safe. However, the term “reasonable” is not concrete and has a fluid interpretation, and that is why you need an attorney in cases where you sustained injuries.
2. Breach of duty
When your Tampa personal injury lawyers establish that someone has the duty to care, they will determine whether that duty was breached. Your attorney will try to determine whether the defendant created a dangerous situation or allowed a dangerous situation to persist.
After our skilled Shrader & Mendez personal injury lawyers have proven that the defendant breached their duty of care; they will proceed to prove that the breach of their duty led to your injuries. Did the business owner have a duty to fix loose rails? Yes. Did they fail to fix them? Yes. Did the loose handrails make you lose your balance and caused your fall? Yes. While this simple case may look straightforward, it can become complicated quickly.
Once the first three elements of negligence are proven, our attorneys will establish that as a result of the breach that caused your accident you were damaged. There are many types of damages.
Sometimes, the defendant may admit they were negligent, but they may argue that their negligence did not cause your injuries. For instance, using the above example, the business owner may claim that your fall was not caused by the loose rails but because you were texting. Alternatively, they may claim that you lost your balance and fell because of the loose rails, but you had a pre-existing back injury.
The above situation makes it clear that you need an experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer to make the process much easier and increase your chances of a positive outcome.
If you have sustained physical injuries resulting from another person’s negligence, you are entitled to financial compensation. Our skilled Tampa personal injury lawyers at Shrader & Mendez will fight to ensure that you get fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Call 813-360-1529 or contact us to start the claim process today.