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What Questions Should I Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Preparing to Meet a Personal Injury Attorney

As you recover from your accident-related injuries, you begin wondering what comes next. When you’re ready to talk, your personal injury attorney can answer many of your most pressing questions. You just have to know what questions to ask.

A lot of activity takes place between the day you’re injured and the day you first meet with your personal injury attorney. After enduring the initial trauma, medical treatment, and first painful steps toward recovery, you begin to reconsider every aspect of your life. You contemplate your future. You wonder how you’ll care for your family, perform basic household tasks, or earn a living.

When you’re recovering from serious injuries, you have a lot of time to think. Questions arise when you least expect them. While your attorney can’t answer all of them, he can address your legal inquiries. His personal injury experience allows him to provide guidance on other issues as well. Unfortunately, some of the most important questions you have for your personal injury attorney can fade away when you’re sitting face-to-face.

You Need a Personal Injury Attorney: A Q&A Guide

Even if you’ve already had your initial consultation, your attorney will make time to answer your questions. To make sure you remember what’s important, prepare your questions ahead of time.

  • Keep notes about your progress, your legal and personal concerns, and anything else that comes to mind.
  • Document your concerns as they arise, otherwise, you might forget them.
  • If you don’t or can’t write a list of questions, dictate them into your phone’s recording app.
  • Remember, every question you have is important and deserves consideration.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your Personal Injury Attorney Q&A:

Do I have a good case?

Attorneys are often hesitant to render an opinion on a case based solely on the injured person’s version of the event. Your attorney’s opinion on liability and damages is subject to change after he conducts an investigation and reviews all of the available evidence.

Whether you’re injured in an auto accident, a slip and fall, an on-the-job accident or by a defective product, your attorney needs evidence to evaluate your case. To get a clear picture of what happened, he must look at the accident scene, review witness statements, and find out what the other involved parties have to say. Only then can he give you an honest opinion about whether your case is worth pursuing.

My neighbor got $500,000 for his back injury, will I get that much for my back injury?

Your attorney should never compare your back injury to someone else’s. Each injury case is different because no two people are the same and no two injuries are alike. A lot of factors go into evaluating any injury claim. You need the answers to a lot of questions before you can even speculate. That’s especially true during the early treatment stages.

Unless your attorney represented your neighbor, he has no idea what type of back injury she sustained. It may have involved discs or nerves. It could have been serious enough to require surgery. You may eventually receive a settlement as large as your neighbor’s, but attorneys respect their clients too much to offer an opinion on a case about which they know nothing.

How will you evaluate my injuries?

Florida Man Happy about Back Injury settlement from Personal Injury AttorneyYour attorney evaluates your case after you conclude your active medical treatment. He’ll request narrative reports describing your medical and physical issues, permanent disabilities, scarring, loss of bodily functions, and other concerns. By then he will know your total medical and rehabilitation costs and he will have verified your lost income. These figures are important to your overall case value.

Once your attorney has the medical documentation he needs, he can evaluate your case. He will establish a value based on you, your lifestyle, your limitations, permanent disabilities, and other factors.

When will you settle my injury claim?

Attorneys initiate settlement negotiations once you’ve reached optimum recovery. They rely on your medical care team to determine if and when full recovery is possible. Your doctor, physical therapist, rehabilitation specialists, and other medical care providers submit reports explaining your recovery and its anticipated timing.

If your injuries require indefinite care, you and your attorney will decide together when you should settle your case. When you must undergo treatment or rehabilitation over the course of your lifetime, any settlement will include financial recovery for future expenses.

Why doesn’t the driver who caused my auto accident pay my medical bills?

Under Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) statutes, you must have $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and a $5,000 death benefit on your auto policy. If you’re injured in an auto accident, you must submit your medical bills and wage loss claims to your own insurance carrier for payment.

When can I make a liability claim against another driver?

Florida PIP has several medical exceptions that allow you to make a liability claim against another driver. If you or a relative sustains one of these conditions, you have the right to make a liability claim against the person who caused your auto accident.

  • Significant or permanent loss of an important bodily function.
  • Permanent injury
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
  • Death

How do you determine fault?

When a person commits a negligent act that causes injury, that person is at fault or legally liable for the damages. Negligence isn’t always clear. That’s why your attorney investigates the circumstances surrounding any injury claim. Here are a few examples.

  • Auto accident: If a driver runs a red light and crashes into your vehicle, she is liable for the damages she causes. If the light malfunctioned or you were speeding at the time of the crash, you and the local municipality share some of the responsibility for your injuries.
  • Slip and fall: If a property owner fails to maintain his premises and you fall, the property owner has some responsibility for your accident. If the condition was open and obvious or a warning sign pointed out the danger, your actions most likely contributed to the incident.
  • Product liability: When a defective product causes your injury, the manufacturer is at fault. If a manufacturer/defendant proves that you misused, altered, or failed to use the product as it was intended, a court may find you at fault for causing or contributing to your injuries.

What happens if a court decides that I contributed to my injuries?

Florida’s comparative fault statute addresses situations where more than one person causes or contributes to an injury. Courts and insurance companies evaluate each case to determine each person’s or entity’s negligence percentage. When an injured plaintiff contributes to their own injuries, the court or insurance company reduces the judgment or settlement by an amount equal to the injured person’s negligence percentage.

For example, if a court decides that your claim has a $10,000 value and that you were 20 percent negligent, they would award you a judgment of $8,000. Comparative fault applies to all negligence-based claims for damages.

When will you file my lawsuit?

To avoid litigation costs and court delays, a personal injury attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement for your injury claim. They will provide medical information and doctor reports to the liability insurance companies for consideration. If the other parties are cooperative and fair, they often agree on a reasonable settlement.

As insurance companies aren’t always reasonable or fair, the negotiation process doesn’t always work. When the attorney and the insurance company reach a stalemate, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your local court. Despite active negotiation, your attorney might file a lawsuit to protect your statute of limitations if the deadline is close.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is the deadline by which you to must make a claim against the person who caused your injuries. You must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit by that date. If you miss the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to collect damages from the responsible party. For a person making a negligence case, the statute of limitations is 4 years from the date of the injury. A person has 2 years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Certain circumstances outlined in Florida §95.051 may temporarily toll the statute of limitations and keep it from running. When a defendant is out of the state or deliberately avoids service using a false identity, it tolls the statute. If a product causes injury, the statute of limitations is connected to the date the injured person knew or should have known that the product caused their injury.

The statute of limitations is also a bit more complicated when the injured person is a minor. Time begins to count down once a child reaches adulthood at age 18. Whatever a minor’s age when the accident occurs, they have a maximum 7-year statute of limitations.

Will the other insurance company pay my damages or defend the case?

Insurance companies usually have access to the same evidence as a plaintiff’s attorney. Despite having the same information, they sometimes arrive at different conclusions about liability. When their insureds cause accidents, they could choose to settle a case but often they decide to defend their insureds. This occurs for several reasons.

  • The insured denies liability: When a defendant believes they are not at fault, they often give their insurance company a version that’s more favorable to their position. If the insurance investigator can’t find unbiased witnesses or adverse evidence, the insurance company often takes its insured’s position. They deny liability and may defend the case at trial.
  • High retention limit: Some large commercial entities have high self-insured retention limits which they must pay before their insurance policies apply. Others are self-insured for their entire liability exposures. As large settlements often come directly from a large corporation’s funds, they control some negotiations and settlements. If they don’t wish to pay a high-dollar claim, they may take their chances at trial.
  • Low policy limits: When an insured injures more than one person, a personal auto policy or homeowners policy might not have liability limits high enough to cover all of the injuries. If the insurance company doesn’t have a high enough policy limit to settle with everyone, they try to find an option that resolves all of the claims and also minimizes their insured’s excess exposure. They sometimes avoid settlement and defend their insured until a solution surfaces.

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution can be mediation, arbitration, or some other informal settlement forum. When your attorney files a lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries, the courts prefer that they settle. Florida courts encourage settlement by requiring that plaintiffs and defendants participation in mediation.

Mediation forces adverse parties, their lawyers, and their insurance companies to come together in the same neutral space. They share information and explain their liability theories to an unbiased mediator and sometimes to each other. Sometimes the parties negotiate a settlement. Even if your attorney and the defendants can’t reach a settlement, the process gives all the parties insight into the other side’s position.

How much money do I have to pay your law firm?

Personal injury attorneys generally handle cases on a contingency basis. That means your attorney receives no fee for his services unless he settles your case or wins at trial. When he recovers your damages, your personal injury attorney gets paid for his efforts.

Call an Accident Injury Attorney Today for More Information

If were injured in an accident and you need answers, a personal injury attorney can help you recover the damages needed to live a better life. Look for someone who has investigated, negotiated, settled, and tried a great number of similar cases and recovered millions of dollars in injury claims. Ask your questions and see if that law firm can help you.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

Florida Personal Injury Attorneys