A personal injury is a physical wound inflicted on a person's body instead of property damage or reputation. The victim (plaintiff) reserves the right to sue the at-fault party (defendant) and recover compensation for the injuries suffered. We understand at VG Law that there is a lot of pain, suffering, and confusion involved in cases like this. Our Orlando personal injury lawyers have years of experience helping victims and will provide answers to all your questions.
A personal injury lawsuit is a legal dispute between the person who suffers harm and the party who caused it. Normally, the legally responsible party's insurance company will pay compensation to the injured person. The money covers medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, and future medical costs, if applicable.
If the case involved medical malpractice, your personal injury attorney would work with the insurance company and hospital attorneys to arrive at a settlement. When parties fail to reach an agreement, they will commence legal proceedings in court. During the procedure, the court will look through the evidence to determine the person with the highest liability.
Thus, there are two ways to arrive at a settlement in a personal injury claim:
1. Formal Lawsuit: This lawsuit is different from a criminal action instituted by the District Attorney on behalf of the state or federal government. It commences with the plaintiff alleging negligence against an individual, company, or government entity. They would have to prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care and breached the duty. The plaintiff will also show that the defendant caused harm to them, and the injury led to damages. This is called "Filing a lawsuit," and it is best to do it with personal injury attorneys.
2. Informal Settlement: In practice, most disputes over fault in car accidents or other injuries get resolved through an informal agreement. It means that the case does not go to court. Rather, the victim, the fault party, their insurance companies, and legal counsel from injury law firms settle the matter. They will negotiate until they arrive at an agreeable sum, put the agreement in writing, and agree not to take further actions.
There is a middle ground between a formal lawsuit and an informal agreement. This is an alternative dispute resolution. Here, both parties involve an arbitrator to hear their case and arrive at a decision. During the arbitration, the parties can involve their Orlando personal injury lawyers to advise them on the procedures.
Several situations lead to personal injury claims. Here are some of the common types:
Most personal injuries in the city of Orlando, Florida, and other parts of the United States arise from motor vehicle accidents. When an accident happens, the police or other investigating authority look at the crash scene and events leading to the collision to determine the negligent party. Once they identify the careless driver, the victim can hold them responsible for physical injury and property damage. To settle the victim, the fault party relies on their auto insurance policy. If their coverage is not enough to cover the damages, they will pay out of pocket.
Another common form of personal injury claims is slip and fall injuries. It is a wound sustained by a person who has the legal right to be on the property of another. In legal matters like this, the law takes into consideration that the victim is not a trespasser. It will also consider that the property owner has a duty to keep their premises safe for visitors.
However, note that it's not in every premises liability case that the landowner would be liable to the victim. The exact nature of the landlord's legal duty depends on the situation involved. Asides from being a trespasser, if the victim failed to obey a warning sign and suffered an injury in the process, the property owner won't be liable.
Medical malpractice under this head can be:
In either of the above instances, the victim would have to prove that the health care provider provided treatment that falls below the standard of care. Their attorney would show that the victim's injury or death is a result of such negligence. Keep in mind that medical malpractice cases can also result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Also, not all treatments with a bad outcome will result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Dog bites may be uncommon, but when they happen, they result in severe injuries. Injury victims can bring their claim against the dog owner for financial compensation, including medical care. Factors like whether the dog has shown aggressive behavior or not in the past often come into play.
In Florida, dog bite laws do not require victims to prove the owner's negligence. It follows the "One Bite" rule, which states that it is enough if the owner knows the dog has an attacking history. The injury claim process of dog bite cases can be tricky. Thus, it would be best to hire an Orlando personal injury lawyer.
Legal matters of this nature have both a criminal and civil nature. Unlike auto accidents with no malice, assault and battery are intentional acts where the offender sets out to harm the victim. The fault party will face a criminal trial, and the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court to get fair compensation. If you suffer this type of injury, get legal representation before commencing an action.
Whether from auto accidents, workplace accidents, or medical practice, victims of negligence need to know the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit. This is because injury claims can take a while to resolve. Plus, without knowing what's obtainable, the victim might get impatient.
Below, we've outlined the steps involved in a personal injury claims process.
Victims of auto collisions must get medical treatment immediately after the occurrence. Not only will this avoid mistakes that might impact your quality of life, but it will also help with your claim. By getting checked out by a medical doctor, you will have evidence of your treatment and the cost. You can present it to an insurance company adjuster while requesting a settlement or as evidence in court.
Most personal injury victims prefer to wait until the matter hits the roof before getting legal representation. This is not right and will adversely affect your case. Once the facts show that your claim is not minor, speak with Orlando's personal injury attorneys immediately. The lawyer will ensure you don't shortchange yourself and get you the maximum compensation.
It's important to investigate the case properly and review all medical records and treatment receipts. Doing this will ensure you cross your "Ts" and dot every "I", and you don't have any loopholes in your case. It is quite important as civil cases are decided on a balance of evidence. An Orlando personal injury lawyer can help you with this and will ensure you leave no stone unturned.
Once you conclude investigations, the next thing to do is write a demand letter to the fault party's insurance company. At this stage, negotiations begin in earnest. Usually, insurance companies will offer a sum, and your lawyer will counter. The back and forth go on until you and your legal representatives are convinced that you have a fair settlement.
Note that an attorney with vast legal experience will not demand until you reach Medical Maximum Improvement (MMI). This is because your lawyer won't know your medical bills' exact extent until you reach MMI. Orlando personal injury attorneys at VG Law have the expertise you need.
Litigation starts when you give your attorney the go-ahead to commence a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. The filing sets the timer for when the case will go to trial. It is vital to file a lawsuit even during negotiations to ensure it doesn't come outside the time stipulated by law.
Discovery of evidence is the stage where the parties submit the evidence they have to each other. They investigate each other's claims and defenses, send interrogatories, request documents, and depose all witnesses. Depending on the court's deadline and the case's complexity, this stage can last for months before the trial commences. Note that your lawyer is in charge of this stage of the lawsuit.
After discovery, the counsels to both parties try to reach an agreement that benefits both sides. They commence negotiations, and in the end, they can agree or disagree. Sometimes, they involve a mediator, usually a neutral third party, to help with the negotiation. If, after all these, they fail to settle, the case proceeds to trial.
It is the last stage of a personal injury lawsuit. Here, the court gives the parties a date to appear in court and present their arguments. Depending on the case's complexity and the parties' mindset, a trial could last a day, weeks, months, and sometimes years. At other times, the schedule of the judge might also affect the trial duration. The court's decision is usually binding, but parties reserve the right to appeal to a higher court.
The question of duration is one reason many people take a settlement less than what they deserve. They prefer immediate gratification to a lengthy claims process and thereby put themselves at a disadvantage. In personal injury cases, there is no fixed time for when the parties can reach an agreement.
The counsels to the injured party and liable party can reach an agreement one moment and overturn it the next. This can drag on for a year or two if none of the parties desire to shift ground. Thus, there's no precise date for the completion of a personal injury claim.
What you should consider are the following factors:
The average settlement amount in a personal injury case differs greatly. The value of the money you'll receive depends on the factors of your case. They include medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and more. It simply means that if one person gets a $20,000 settlement sum, another might get less or more.
Thus, you can receive thousands of dollars. However, the average settlement sum is anywhere between $3,000 to $75,000. Normally, your insurance company and legal counsel will calculate the sum considering what you lost and how much you spent. There is no hard or fast rule on how the calculations go, which is why you need Orlando, personal injury lawyers.
Note that some cases settle for millions of dollars, but they involve unique circumstances. Also, if the court awards punitive damages in gross negligence cases, it significantly impacts the settlement sum. What's important is that you know your claim's value and keep a record of all you lost and spent because of the injury.
Like every other jurisdiction in the United States, Florida has a Statute of Limitations for when you should bring a personal injury claim. The law provides that those who seek to address a legal wrong bring their claims within four years from the date the injury occurred. You must bring the action before a Florida civil court.
If you fail to bring your claim within this time frame, the court will refuse to hear it. It means that your case will be void and unhearable in court. Also, you'll be unable to get any compensation sum from the at-fault party. One exception to this rule is that the harm you suffered happened after the date of the injury.
In such an instance, you must be able to link your injury to the accident. For example, you may have only minor injuries from a slip and fall accident. But months and years later, you begin to suffer pains in your hips that require surgery. If the doctor can link such pain as an aftermath of the fall that failed to manifest initially, the limitation will not apply. Find out more about this from Orlando, personal injury attorneys.
Note that the four years time limit does not apply to all personal injury claims. If it's a medical malpractice claim, you have two years from the date you discovered the injury to commence an action. The law also says two years from when you should have discovered the injury or the latest four years from when the malpractice happened. Anything outside those years is statute-barred.
The fear of legal fees is why most people prefer to handle their injury claims alone rather than employ an attorney. But interestingly, legal fees are not as high as people fear, nor will it take a chunk of the settlement. In Florida, factors like:
Most personal injury attorneys get paid using the contingency fee method. It means that the outcome of the case determines how much they'll get. With this payment plan, the attorney does not require an upfront payment before representing you. Instead, the lawyer gets paid with an agreed-upon percentage from the settlement sum.
If your case does not have a positive outcome, the lawyer does not get paid, and you don't end up in legal debt. Most contingency fees are 33% or one-third of the compensation you receive. It can also be less depending on the firm you're working with.
At VG Law, we have some of the most experienced Orlando personal injury lawyers. We work as a team to achieve your goals and are committed to being accessible by you, always. If you have a personal injury claim you need help with, contact us today for a free case review.