The truth about car accident cases in Florida
How long does a Florida car accident case take?
Initial client interview with accident victim
After the accident, you start looking for an injury lawyer to help you. When you meet with the lawyer, here are some things that may happen at the initial client interview:
You will be asked questions related to your:
-personal and family history
-accident (diagram, photos, video, police department who did the investigations, witnesses, statements given, vehicles involved, insurance,
-injuries and damage (how were you physically hurt, did you go to the hospital, doctor, activities you can't do now that you could do before, out of pocket expenses, property damage, towing charges)
-insurance (what coverage do you have? Hopefully, you have uninsured motorist coverage stacked).
-work (what do you do for a living, did you miss work because of the accident)
-prior claims or lawsuits (do you have prior accidents or injuries?)
-arrests. Do you have any prior criminal convictions?
The retainer agreement
A standard retainer agreement between an injury lawyer and the client is a contingency fee contract. The lawyer generally will get a percentage of whatever he can recover. He will also get his costs back. The client does not have to pay for costs up front.
The client will also sign a statement of client's rights, which is required by the Florida Bar. Both the contingency fee agreement and the statement of client's rights should be in writing and signed by all parties.
A client needs to get medical treatment to get better and substantiate the damages portion of their auto accident claim. Going to the doctor and following their advice is important. Gaps in treatment and not following the doctor's advice are two ways to kill a case.
In Florida, an injured person needs to seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident to have full PIP coverage available. Preferably with an M.D. who says you meet the EMC criteria (emergency medical condition).
Personal injury protection pays 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to $10,000.
Insurance or deep pockets
Your injury lawyer will look into all avenues of insurance or assets to collect from the person who was at fault for the car accident.
After you have reached maximum medical improvement, your injury lawyer may file a demand packet with the insurance company to get you money. If they settle, your lawyer will get his percentage and the costs should be minimal on the average case. Your medical bills may be reduced down through negotiation. That means more money in your pocket.
If the insurance company is unreasonable with their settlement offer, the next step is to file suit. A lawsuit in Palm Beach county, Florida typically takes one to two years. Some counties like Broward and Miami Dade county may take longer. You will have to sit for a deposition where the other side can ask you questions. You will also have to undergo a compulsory medical examination by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. The case will be set for mediation. Many cases settle at mediation days or weeks before trial. If the case cannot be settled at mediation, then your case will go to trial.
Myths vs. the truth about Florida car accident cases
Myth - I won the lottery because I got in a car accident.
Truth – You have not won the lottery by getting in a car accident.
Advertising by big injury firms has done a tremendous amount of harm in a variety of ways.
First, people with legitimate claims of personal injury due to the negligence of others don't get a fair shot in front of a jury. They go into court behind the 8 ball because of negative personal injury ads.
Second, even if you are hurt and it was someone else's fault, if there is no insurance or assets, you are out of luck.
Third, even if there is a recovery, your medical bills have to be paid. Your lawyer has to be paid. Your lawyer has to be paid back for the costs he fronted for you. Just to use round numbers, on a $100,000 case, presuit, generally, your lawyer would get 1/3 (read the contract and any potential waivers), the doctors would get 1/3 and you would get 1/3. Post-suit, the lawyer gets 40% for his fee, plus the average cost to prosecute a car accident case to trial in Florida is a minimum of $10,000 - $15,000. So, out of the $100,000, the lawyer gets $40,000 plus $10,000 to $15,000 for reimbursement of costs, the doctors get $33,000 and you are left with squat - $12,000 to $17,000. Yes, you got the medical care you needed, but $12,000 to $17,000 for all that? I challenge you to find any injury lawyer on the web who tells you the truth about this. If you do, let me know. I'd like to meet them.
Myth – I'm going to get money right away for my Florida car accident case.
Truth - Generally, one year pre-suit, two years if your car accident lawyer has to sue.
On average, injured victims of car accidents must undergo several months to a year or more of medical treatment for their injuries. If the insurance company pays right away without your car accident attorney having to sue, your case will be over during that time. However, if your car accident lawyer has to sue (file a lawsuit), it will take approximately another year before your injury case is resolved. The injured victim is usually treating with doctors for the first year. Generally, and every case is different, you should wait until the doctors have done everything they can do for you -then demand the money. That way you could be compensated for all of your injuries.
Myth – My injury case is worth a million bucks.
Truth – Few car accident cases are worth a million bucks.
If you were injured in a car accident and it was someone else's fault, there must be insurance and/or assets to go after. If there is insurance and/or assets to go after, the maximum value of an injured victim's case is the value of the insurance and/or assets. Many people driving around Florida have zero insurance. Others have small bodily injury policies. Some people, usually high net worth folks, have substantial insurance policies. Many of them have Chubb insurance. They are few and far between. It is important that your car accident lawyer checks into all available coverage. If there is no insurance and/or assets, you won't get any money even if the other person is at fault. You can protect yourself by buying uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Just tell your insurance agent that you want “UM stacked”. That covers you in and out of the car if the other person has no insurance or too little insurance. It also covers you for hit and run drivers. You may want to get at least $100,000/$300,000 UM stacked.
There are other factors that affect how much a Florida car accident case is worth. How likeable are you? What about the person that hit you? How well will you testify? How good is your lawyer? Is your car accident lawyer going to fight for you? Do you go to the doctor consistently? Are there gaps in your treatment? Do you have prior accidents? Do you have any criminal convictions that are felonies or crimes of dishonesty? How much was the property damage? Did you have surgery? Did you follow all of the doctor's recommendations as to medical care? Do you need future medical care?
Here you will find the truth about car accident cases in Florida. I could have told you "free consultation" "no recovery, no fee" or paid a former client to say "Grey got me X dollars". Nope. None of that here. Just the truth.
If you are a good person who was seriously injured in a car accident and it was someone else's fault, call me. I will be honest with you. If we decide to work together, I will do everything I can to help you.
"Law is not black or white, it's Grey"
Based out of West Palm Beach, Florida, Grey is an injury lawyer who helps real car accident victims get the money they deserve.