The Answers You Need to Common Injury Law Questions
It is natural to have many questions and worries when faced with a legal issue or litigation. The experienced lawyers at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., ask many common legal questions and provide useful answers to help get you in making the best decisions for you and your family.
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Should I file an accident report if I'm hurt in a store?
If you're hurt on someone else’s property, you should always make sure the owner is aware of the accident. As an experienced premises liability attorney, I know how vital an accident report is as a piece of evidence—and how mistakes on this report can harm your injury case.
Information to Include in an Official Accident Report
If you're hurt in a store, you should alert the manager or an employee so you can fill out an accident report before you leave. Many businesses have their own accident report forms for victims to complete after an injury on their premises.
It's important that all of the information you provide is accurate and relevant, and that you avoid assigning blame for the injury on the document.
You may be asked to provide:
- Contact information. You should include your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address so the manager can contact you and provide you with a copy of the report.
- Facts of the accident. Include the date, time, and location of the accident. A short overview of the incident may be necessary (such as “I slipped in the freezer aisle”), but avoid guessing as to the exact cause of the accident.
- A statement of injury. You may provide a short description of your injury that includes all areas where you feel pain (such as “I hurt my head and arm in a fall”), but don't go into details about the extent of your injuries. The doctor you see in the hours following the accident can provide this evidence of your injuries.
It's important to recognize that the store will use this information to limit its own liability. For this reason, it's critical to record all the details you can remember for your own use—the condition of the floor, what you were doing before the accident, and the names and contact information of any witnesses. Before you leave, take some photos of the scene with your cellphone for further evidence.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we carefully review all details of your case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you, and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
Why is it important to hire an injury attorney who's willing to go to trial?
If you're looking for an attorney to handle your personal injury case, you should always ask whether they have experience going to trial. Surprisingly, many big-name law firms don't try their own cases—and the unwillingness to go to trial can have a big impact on the amount of compensation you receive.
How a Trial Attorney Benefits Your Personal Injury Case
Insurance companies know which lawyers try cases, and which ones don't. As a result, insurers are much more likely to negotiate a favorable settlement with an attorney who has the skills to take the case to court and won't hesitate to do so if that's the best option for the client.
Insurers know that trial attorneys are more likely to:
- Secure a jury verdict. Insurers want to keep cases out of court as often as possible because they could be ordered to pay vast amounts to injury victims. An attorney who's known for taking cases to court is a threat to the insurer’s interests, making the insurance company more flexible during settlement negotiations.
- Undergo a thorough preparation. A trial attorney prepares every injury case as if it will go to trial from the very beginning. This means comprehensive fact-checking, investigation, and examination of the details and how they interlock to prove a solid case. In this way, the case is constructed for the best chance of success even if it doesn't actually go to court.
- Stay the course. Lawyers who don't want to go to trial hope they can convince an insurer to settle favorably, but if the insurer offers too little, the lawyer may advise the client to accept the settlement rather than go to court. Trial attorneys aren’t simply waiting for the insurer to call their bluff, allowing them to negotiate from a position of strength.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., attorney Paul Cavonis carefully reviews all the details of your injury case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put your accident behind you. He provides one-on-one guidance—and doesn't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
What does premises liability mean?
Premises liability is the legal term for the responsibility for an injury on someone else’s property. Under premises liability laws, you have a right to seek payment from the owner if you suffer an injury in the owner’s house, business, or land.
Florida Premises Liability Cases
The most common accidents in premises liability cases are falls, such as trip and fall and slip and fall incidents. However, victims can suffer a wide range of injuries on someone else’s property, including injuries from falling debris, slick snow or ice, broken gates, faulty wiring, or even assault.
Property owners have a duty to make their homes and commercial buildings reasonably safe for visitors. If an injury was caused by a landowner or property manager’s negligence, there's a good chance the injury qualifies for a premises liability claim.
There are many different important factors involved in these types of cases, including:
- Who can bring a premises liability claim? While pretty much anyone who suffers a severe injury can bring a premises liability claim, property owners have a different duty of care to different types of visitors. The highest standard of care is given to guests invited onto a property for business reasons, such as shoppers in a grocery store or patrons of a restaurant. It also applies to people invited to the property in order to do work, such as repairmen. The second-highest level of care is given to social guests or people invited onto a property for social reasons for a specific period of time, such as inviting friends and family members to a party. In many cases, people who show up on the property unexpectedly like a friend or neighbor can also be considered a social guest. The lowest tier of care is given to trespassers, or people who were not invited and have no reason to be on the property.
- Who can be liable? Many different people who have control or rights over a property can be held liable for a premises liability injury. Owners of homes and businesses; property managers who oversee several shopping malls, condominiums, or hotels; and landlords can be liable if they fail to remedy a dangerous condition on the property within a reasonable period of time. If an injury occurred in a shop, liability may fall on the shop owner, the owner of the leased property to house the shop or both.
- What do I need to prove? Property owners and other liable parties generally cannot be held responsible for injuries resulting from a dangerous condition on their property that they didn't know about. In order to collect payment in a premises liability case, you will first need to prove that the owner/liable person knew about—or should have known about—a hazardous condition on the property. Next, you must prove the owner/liable person failed to fix the condition and/or warn others of the danger. Finally, there must be proof that you were directly injured by the hazardous condition.
- Are there different laws for trespassers or children? Trespassers may not have permission to enter a property, but that doesn't mean property owners don't have any liability for their safety. Owners have a duty to warn anyone on their properties about potentially dangerous or lethal conditions and can be liable for any intentional injuries to a trespasser. Owners have a special duty of care toward children, since children may not recognize conditions as harmful—such as trampolines, swimming pools, or discarded appliances. A property owner is responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect nearby children by installing preventive measures around it (such as a fence with a locking gate) or by removing dangerous conditions from the property.
- What can I recover? Injuries in a premises liability case can be extensive. Damages may include compensation for medical treatment, physical rehabilitation, lost wages and income, disability, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, and other remuneration.
If you were injured on another person’s property, our personal injury attorney can advise you on options and get the compensation you need to recover. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.
What is sovereign immunity in Florida?
Sovereign Immunity: "The King can do no wrong."
Sovereign immunity is a legal principal that dates back to ancient times. It comes from the idea that "the King can do no wrong" and could not be sued. Sovereign immunity is still very much alive and well. As a result, you can't sue the government unless you have specific permission to do so. This principle is reflected in the Florida Constitution which states that suits may be filed against the state only as permitted by law. Florida law provides for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity which permits suits against the state under certain circumstances.
Sovereign immunity applies not only to "the state", as that term is generally understood, but also to agencies of the state and private entities performing what are essentially governmental services. Generally speaking, the state can be sued for breach of contract and for torts (negligence and intentional wrongdoing). However, there are specific procedures which must be followed in order to sue the state, particularly when suing the state for a tort claim. The Florida Tort Claims Act sets forth this procedure. Most importantly, the Florida Tort Claims Act requires a claimant to send a notice to the government within 3 years from the date of the claim. It may be necessary to send this notice to multiple governmental agencies. It is important to note that the 3 year deadline to serve the notice is shorter than the 4 four year statute of limitations to bring a tort action. The claim will be barred if the notices are not timely sent.
Although Florida Law provides for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, the amount of money which can be recovered from the state by an individual claimant in a tort action is limited to $200,000. There are exceptions to this cap when there is an insurance policy exceeding the $200,000 cap. In the absence of an insurance policy exceeding the $200,000 cap, a claimant may pursue what is called a "claims bill". This is essentially an application to the state legislature to pass a law allowing the state to pay a claim in excess of the $200,000 cap. It is extremely difficult to get a claims bill passed in the legislature.
I have experience bringing claims against the state and state agencies. I welcome the opportunity to discuss any sovereign immunity related claim you may have. To learn more, please visit HelpForTheHurt.com.
How can I pay my medical bills after a pedestrian accident?
When two cars collide, the victims have the benefit of airbags, steel frames, and countless safety measures to protect them from harm. People who are struck while walking or cycling have no such protection, causing injuries to be much more severe. Pedestrians involved in vehicle accidents are usually sent to the emergency room, may have a lengthy hospitalization, and are out of work for weeks, or even months, all of which, can be extremely costly.
The High Medical Costs of a Florida Pedestrian Accident
Pedestrians and bicyclists are often struck when vehicles turn in front of them, wander into pedestrian paths, or in a moment where the driver’s attention wasn't on the road. In just a few seconds, a pedestrian can suffer severe disability or even death as a result of being struck by a car or hitting the pavement at a high speed.
Common injuries in pedestrian-car crashes often include:
- Head injuries. A pedestrian will usually suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) as his or her head makes contact with the hood of a car or the road surface. Even if a bicyclist is wearing a helmet, he or she can still suffer concussions or brain bleeding that results in long-term brain damage.
- Chest and abdominal trauma. The force of impact can break a pedestrian’s bones, causing fractured ribs, a broken pelvis, and internal bleeding.
- Spinal injuries. Bicyclists and pedestrians often suffer back injuries, such as a herniated disc or a spinal fracture that results in temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Injuries to the extremities. In addition to internal injury, pedestrians may suffer broken hands, feet, and fingers as they attempt to brace their falls—or road rash and broken noses if they're unsuccessful.
- Death. An impact at high speed can easily cause loss of life for a pedestrian or cyclist, placing an enormous financial and emotional burden on surviving family members.
Methods of Payment for Pedestrian Accident Victims
There are many ways for accident victims to get compensation for the loss of their property, the costs of medical treatment, and even pain and suffering after a crash. Some of the most common methods include:
- The pedestrian’s car insurance. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning each driver is expected to cover the costs of his or her own injuries after a car accident. All drivers are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover any injuries caused by car accidents. If the injured pedestrian or bicyclist also owns a motor vehicle that's insured in the State of Florida, the victim can use his PIP car insurance coverage to pay for his injuries, even if his vehicle wasn't involved in the accident. If the injured pedestrian doesn't own a vehicle, he or she can be covered under the insurance policy of a relative living in the same household that owns an insured vehicle.
- The driver’s car insurance. If the injured pedestrian doesn't own a car and doesn't live with someone who owns a car, he or she can get payment under the insurance of the at-fault driver. This coverage provides medical, surgical, disability insurance, and funeral benefits to the driver and to other persons struck by an insured vehicle. In general, PIP providers are required to pay 80 percent of medical bills and up to 60 percent of lost wages directly caused by the effects of the crash up to a limit of $10,000.
- The pedestrian’s health or disability insurance. Although PIP insurance can pay for a significant amount of a person’s injuries, it's often not enough to cover the full effects of a pedestrian accident. A victim may have to file a claim under his a health insurance or apply for disability benefits if he's unable to work or needs ongoing medical care due to the crash.
- A personal injury lawsuit. Many people who are struck while walking or cycling don't have enough insurance coverage to pay for the extent of the treatment they'll need to recover from their injuries. Some won't ever be able to function at the same level as before the accident, and may not ever be able to earn a living to support themselves or their families. In these cases, victims would be best served by speaking to an accident attorney about their case. A personal injury case may be the best way to recover lost income, ensure that future health costs are paid for, and to hold the driver accountable for pain and suffering.
We Can Help
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car-pedestrian accident, our aggressive legal team can take over your case while take the time you need to heal from your injuries. Simply fill out the form on this page today to make an appointment in our offices.
How much financial compensation can I expect to receive from a personal injury case?
There are several factors that determine the amount of compensation you receive in a personal injury claim. While the law allows victims to recover many types of damages in an injury case, it's up to you to prove the amount you lost—and will continue to lose—as a result of the accident.
As your injury attorneys, we'll work diligently to demonstrate your losses, helping secure all that you're owed after an injury.
Factors That Influence Damages in a Personal Injury Case
One of the most important points to establish in your case is whether you're partly at fault. In Florida, you can still collect financial compensation even if found to be partially liable for your injury, but your damages are reduced.
Other factors that affect the amount of your compensation include:
- The severity of your injuries. Injuries that result in long-lasting disability or health complications are more costly to victims than those fully healed. We can create a clear picture of how the accident impacted you and seek an additional amount to cover these necessary extra costs.
- The length of time you're disabled by injury. If you were unable to work for a significant period of time, you may collect an amount for lost wages and costs paid out-of-pocket.
- The cost of medical treatment. You’re entitled to be reimbursed for any medical care related to your injury. This includes any treatment you already received, as well as an estimate of your future medical expenses.
- The emotional or physical suffering you endured. If your injury caused mental anguish or severe hardship, you may be able to collect an additional amount for pain and suffering. The amount for pain and suffering is awarded by a jury, so we'll have to clearly demonstrate how the injury affects your quality of life in order to maximize your recovery.
At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., we carefully review all details of your case to secure the rightful compensation you need to put the accident behind you, and we don't collect any fees until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your consultation.
The other person's insurance company has contacted me and wants me to sign documents and give a recorded statement. Should I?
No one should give a statement without fully considering the legal impact of this statement. Before giving a statement or signing any documents, you should consult with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
How do I know if I have a Florida personal injury claim?
You must be able to show that you were injured and that your Gulf Beach area personal injury was caused by someone else's negligent or harmful act.
What is considered a personal injury in Florida?
A personal injury in Seminole, Pinellas, or Tampa Bay area is a physical or mental injury to a person that is a result of someone else's negligence or harmful act.