Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

May 13, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents happen all the time, and accidental injuries are the leading cause of death among Florida residents ages 44 and below. Injuries caused by negligent and careless acts are the third leading cause of death across all ages, after heart disease and cancer. If you were injured by an intentional act or as the result of negligence on the part of someone else, you might be wondering - do I need a personal injury lawyer?

Sometimes, an accident may seem simple and straightforward, and you might believe a simple phone call with the insurance company will result in a quick settlement in your favor. In fact, if you talk to an insurance adjuster, they may tell you there's no need to hire a personal injury lawyer because you don't legally have to hire an attorney to handle your personal injury lawsuit.

A Personal Injury Accident Lawyer Protects You, Insurance Companies Don't

The truth is, insurance companies don't want you to work with an experienced injury lawyer because they know they can probably settle your claim for much less if you don't have legal representation. Insurers are not looking out for your best interests after an accident. When you need a strong legal advocate, you need to have a serious injury attorney on your side, fighting for you.

Some accidents and injuries involve complex legal issues or medical concerns. In those cases, a personal injury accident lawyer has the skills and resources necessary to guide you through the process. Even in less complicated cases, the insurance company's goal is to minimize the amount of money you receive. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters who evaluate your accident claim immediately, looking for ways to reduce or deny your claim.

Although this may be your first contact with the legal system and the insurance claims process, insurance professionals deal with these issues daily. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer allows you to level the playing field and greatly improve your chances of receiving the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What Types of Personal Injuries Do Florida Personal Injury Attorneys Handle?

The rate of unintentional injuries in Florida was 13.43 percent higher than the national average. Rates of motor vehicle injuries, falls, near drowning, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle-auto crashes were extremely high. Some of these accidents are minor and cause little or no harm. However, many accidents can have devastating, life-altering consequences.

Personal injuries can happen under all kinds of circumstances; however, here are some of the common types of situations and injuries a dedicated Florida injury lawyer can help you resolve:

  • Car, motorcycle, and truck accidents;
  • Boat crashes;
  • Bus collisions;
  • Pedestrian accidents;
  • Bicycle accidents;
  • Traumatic brain injuries;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Medical accidents, such as birth injuries, incorrect diagnosis or failure to diagnose, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, emergency room errors, and other forms of medical malpractice;
  • Slip and fall accidents, such as slipping and falling on liquid spills or unsafe stairs;
  • Workplace accidents, including injuries caused by workplace machines or equipment or work-related illnesses;
  • Defective product accidents, including toxic food, dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, dangerous consumer products
  • Animal bite accidents

If your injuries were caused by any of these situations, it's worth your time and effort to set up a free consultation to learn more about your unique legal rights and options. This leads to another question...

When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

The only ways to receive compensation for personal injury losses are:

  • Bring an injury claim against the at-fault party's insurance company
  • File a personal injury lawsuit in court or
  • In some circumstances, file an injury claim with your own insurer

To successfully bring an injury claim, you'll need to prove that the other person involved in the accident was somehow negligent and that their negligence led to your injuries. To build a strong case of negligence, you'll need evidence and legal arguments that support your legal right to compensation. Unfortunately, relevant evidence can disappear over time, and memories can fade. This is why it's crucial to partner with an experienced personal injury law firm as soon as possible.

Most people understand what negligence means, but they may not fully understand the legal implications of negligence. The term negligence can apply to many situations where someone acts without due care. Jurors serving on civil personal injury cases in Florida must apply the legal definition outlined in Jury Instruction 401.4, which states that:

“Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances. Negligence is doing something that a reasonably careful person would not do under like circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under like circumstances.”

Understanding Florida Negligence Rules

Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that an injured person can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault for causing the accident that injured them. However, the plaintiff's recovery will be reduced in proportion to the amount of their fault. A skilled injury attorney can explain these complicated laws and whether they apply to your situation.

The injured person making a claim has the burden of proving elements such as fault and damages by a preponderance of the evidence. That means you must prove it was more likely than not that the cause of your accident and the extent of your injuries are the other person's fault. Even if your case settles before going to trial, creating a strong legal case improves your negotiating position.

To Prove Negligence, You Must Show 4 Factors

The four key factors of negligence are:

  • A duty exists when a person has a legal obligation to act with reasonable care.
  • The person breached that duty. For example, drivers have a duty to drive within the legal speed limit. Breaking the speed limit is a breach of duty.
  • Causation is the relationship between the breach of duty and resulting harm.
  • Harm is the injury suffered by the victim. Often, the harm can be physical, but it may also mean mental or emotional damage or other special losses.

Not every personal injury case rests on the issue of negligence. Some rules specifically apply to cases such as workers' compensation, where an injured person does not need to prove negligence. Also, when it comes to proving negligence, not all cases are proven similarly. For example, proving negligence is different in a medical malpractice case than in a dog bite or a slip-and-fall case.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer if I Don't Plan to Go to Trial?

Many people picture injury lawyers arguing a case before a jury to recover a monetary verdict on behalf of their clients. In reality, most cases settle before they reach that stage of litigation. However, to reach a favorable settlement with an insurance company, you'll need a tenacious personal injury accident lawyer protecting your rights along the way.

What's the Difference Between a Trial and a Settlement?

In a personal injury case, such as a car accident, there are two ways for the victim to collect compensation from the negligent person. Either the defendant or insurance company offers a settlement that the plaintiff accepts, or the plaintiff takes the case to trial. The opposing side may make a settlement offer before a lawsuit is filed, during the trial process, and even while a jury deliberates. If the parties reach a settlement agreement, the plaintiff signs a release to resolve all claims arising from the incident. Personal injury cases are often settled outside of court. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only four percent to five percent of the personal injury cases in the United States go to trial.

Why settle a case? A judge or jury may award the injured party more money, but there's no guarantee. Trials are stressful, and most people want to put the whole matter behind them and get on with their lives. However, settlements are not always possible. Sometimes, a defendant believes they are not responsible for the incident, or the parties cannot agree on the amount of damages. If a fair settlement is not possible, the injured person may have to file suit and ask a judge or jury to find in their favor.

If you're still wondering if you need to hire a personal injury lawyer, take a look at all the things an aggressive attorney can do on your behalf.

What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?

A dedicated personal injury lawyer must perform a wide variety of tasks depending on the types of cases they accept and which stage the case is in. Mistakes and delays in the early stages of a case can weaken your case or diminish its value, so it is important to have a lawyer involved early.

For example, a reputable injury attorney knows that all states have time limits known as statutes of limitations that apply to injury lawsuits. It is essential to file your claim before these time limits expire, or you will lose your right to recover your losses. Your attorney can explain the laws that apply to your situation.

Obtaining fair compensation for accident injuries is much more complicated than you might think. Even a case that appears simple at first may turn out to be highly complex. Trying to go it alone puts your future at risk. Instead, when you partner with a skilled attorney, their work will likely include these six steps:

1. Investigates Claims

Reputable personal injury lawyers offer a free case evaluation. If you decide to work together, these law firms should handle your personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Under this arrangement, the firm does not charge attorney's fees until after you have obtained a favorable settlement or verdict in court.

Once you have partnered with a law firm, your injury lawyer should conduct a thorough investigation as soon as possible. One of the initial challenges in evaluating a personal injury case is identifying all responsible parties.

2. Gathers Evidence

A personal injury firm should have the skills and resources needed to gather evidence. Relevant evidence will be used to support your claim during negotiations or at a trial. Gathering evidence may include obtaining police reports, locating witnesses, taking pictures, and locating any available video footage of the accident. The lawyer will also obtain medical evidence, such as medical reports, as well as expert testimony, to establish the long-term consequences of the plaintiff's injuries.

3. Negotiates With Insurance Companies

After thoroughly investigating the case, the attorney will prepare and send a demand package to the insurance company to begin negotiations. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review all of the details of the insurance policy and establish the compensation that may be available in your specific case. Your lawyer will also handle all communications with the insurance company to relieve your stress and prevent you from making a statement or otherwise accidentally jeopardizing your claim.

If the insurance company refuses to settle, your lawyer may suggest filing a complaint for damages in the civil court system. They will then draft a complaint and file a lawsuit in the appropriate court. This must be done within the legal time limits. The complaint states the reasons for the lawsuit and the legal damages you deserve. Many important procedural rules are involved in starting a lawsuit, and your case could be dismissed if you fail to follow these rules.

5. Conducts Discovery in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you file a lawsuit, your lawyer must abide by the discovery process. This is an essential tool for exchanging vital information so both sides understand your lawsuit's circumstances. Both sides must exchange information such as witness details, medical prognoses, and proof of financial losses.

In civil cases, such as personal injury cases, discovery is wide-ranging, allowing the parties to explore all evidence relevant to the case. After discovery is completed, both sides may agree on the case's strengths and weaknesses, which sometimes leads to a settlement.

There are four key types of discovery:

  • Interrogatories are written questions that must be answered by the opposing party within a certain amount of time.
  • A request for production demands tangible documents or items from the opposing side.
  • A request for admission is usually a list of factual statements served on the other party, who must either admit, deny, or object to the statement within a specific timeframe.
  • Depositions are formal procedures where someone gives their oral testimony under oath in response to questions from the lawyers. The statement is recorded for later use at trial, if necessary.

6. Represents Clients at Trial

If a case proceeds to trial, a personal injury lawyer provides representation in court. Your lawyer will use legally relevant evidence to prove the facts of your case. An enormous amount of preparation goes into any trial. Your attorney will advise and support you throughout the process. The steps in a complete trial (assuming it is not settled during the trial) include:

  • Selecting a jury
  • Making opening statements
  • Examining and cross-examining witnesses
  • Making closing arguments
  • Preparing and giving jury instructions
  • Jury deliberation and verdict

The best and most successful personal injury lawyers have extensive experience in court procedures and know how to advocate for your position while presenting the necessary evidence to protect your rights.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer to Calculate Fair Compensation for Personal Injuries?

Most non-lawyers do not know how to calculate the true value of a personal injury claim. Even using a personal injury settlement calculator may not give you an accurate assessment. For example, some injuries are not immediately apparent and may not show up for a period of time after an accident. That is why you should be cautious about accepting a quick settlement offer without the benefit of legal advice.

Fully understanding the value of your case means analyzing the present and future consequences of your injuries. Your losses may go far beyond medical bills. It can be difficult to place a dollar value on injuries such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship. This is when you should rely on a knowledgeable injury attorney who understands the subtleties of your specific injury case.

It is also important to understand how insurance companies work and how to negotiate with an insurance adjuster. A tenacious personal injury attorney can help you obtain a fair and reasonable compensation award that exceeds the amount you would receive on your own.

Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, different types of legal damages are available to help compensate you for your losses, including:

  • Payment for medical bills and expenses arising from all injuries caused by the defendant.
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Wrongful death
  • Loss of companionship/loss of consortium
  • Punitive damages. Florida allows punitive damage in cases where the court finds gross negligence or intentional misconduct. However, the amount is limited by statute

If You're Wondering When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer, the Answer is Now!

If you or a loved one suffered a severe injury in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultation to learn more. Our dedicated personal injury lawyers are happy to discuss the details of your case. We'll explain your legal options and how you can seek compensation.

The compassionate team at Dolman Law Group understands how a personal injury can negatively affect your life, and we want to help you recover the compensation you deserve. Our legal professionals can help you hold whoever caused your injury responsible and recover compensation for the losses you have suffered.

For a free consultation with the Dolman Law Group team about your case you can either contact us online or call our office at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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