Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Is There A Set Amount Or A Limit To The Amount Of Compensation I Can Recover From My Personal Injury Claim?

Generally the answer is no. Each personal injury case is normally evaluated on its own merit, but there are circumstances that can affect this. Compensation can be economic (past last wages, future lost wages, medical bills, etc.) or non-economic/subjective (pain and suffering, anxiety, disfigurement, etc.). As for punitive damages, the state of Florida imposes a cap of three times the awarded compensatory damages, or $500,000 (whichever amount is greater). Common exceptions are workers compensation and medical malpractice claims. These have legal limits to the amounts recoverable.

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What Is Commonly Viewed as Pain and Suffering?

“Pain and Suffering” is a collective term that includes your injuries along with any form of mental anguish, emotional distress, or physical harm you may have endured.  Many situations can cause pain and suffering, but the most common examples include becoming disabled, suffering post-traumatic stress or the loss of a loved one, or losing the ability to do regular physical tasks and activities up to and including the ability to perform your job.  It can also include the inability to do prior activities as well due the other party’s negligence.

What is Personal Injury?

Any injury (either physical or mental) resulting from negligent act or omission of another person or entity is considered a personal injury.  Personal injury is considered a civil law matter.

There are many types of personal injury, including but certainly not limited to the following common items:

Automobile Accidents (including Motorcycle, Truck, Boat, Bicycle, Pedestrian and other vehicles)
Wrongful Death
Premises Liability (commonly known as Slip & Falls)
Dog Bites (and other animal bites & injuries)
On-The-Job Injuries (including Construction Site injuries)
Exposure to Toxic Substances (including Mold)
Negligent Supervision
Professional Negligence

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What Is The Statute Of Limitations For My Case?

Many times there will be a deadline in which you have to file a lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations. For example, filing a lawsuit for wrongful death has a two-year statute of limitations in the state of Florida. Once those two years expire, you can no longer file your claim. Some statutes have special exceptions or extensions. In Florida, most general negligence claims have a statute of limitations extending to 4 years from the date of the accident. An attorney can help you to avoid missing these and other important deadlines.

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What Should I Do If I Am Bitten By Someones Dog?

Most importantly, seek medical attention.  Injuries from an animal can lead to serious injection and disease if left untreated, even if it is someone’s pet.  Because some issues may take time to become apparent, make sure to follow-up with a doctor after the initial treatment.
Keep records of the event, including reports from the police and animal control, photographs, medical records, and witness statements (if applicable).
If you are seeking compensation, make sure to contact a legal professional in order to determine an equitable amount for your injuries and any other pain and suffering you may have incurred.

What Should I Do If I Am Involved In A Slip and Fall Injury?

Notify the owner or a person in charge of the premises right away. Even if the homeowner or business owner has premises liability insurance that protects them in such situations, it is their responsibility to provide you with a safe environment, and inform you of any dangers that may exist. If a business owner or homeowner is found negligent in this regard, you may be eligible to recover damages for your injuries, including lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.

Is an owner of a dog liable if it bites someone?

Florida dog-bite laws are strict, and dictate that pet owners have the responsibility to control their pet whether on their own property or on public property.   It is a misconception that if a dog bites a guest on the owner’s property, the owner cannot be held liable.  However, if a person is bitten by a dog while unlawfully trespassing on private property, then the dog’s owner cannot be held accountable.  The owner of a dog who has already been declared dangerous can be found guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree if the dog bites another person or animal.

If the victim of the attack contributed to the situation through some form of negligence (including taunting the dog), there would be a reduction in the liability to the pet owner, thus reducing the compensation the victim can receive.  The amount would be reduced by calculating the percentage of the victim’s negligence and subtracting it from the original amount of compensation.  Many things, including past aggressive behavior on the part of the dog (or even its owner), may be considered when determining the outcome of a dog-bite case.

How Do Personal Injury Attorneys Get Paid?

Many personal injury attorneys are paid on what is called a contingency fee basis. Essentially, the attorney only gets paid if a recovery is made in the case. If a recovery is made, the attorney is paid a percentage of the recovery to cover fees and expenses. The attorney begins the case without receiving any payment and even puts forth money to cover expenses necessary to see the case through. For anyone worried about the entirety of their recovery going to cover the attorneys fees, fear not. The Florida Bar sets a limit to the amount personal injury attorneys can charge for their contingency fees. If there is no lawsuit filed, then the fee is limited to 33.3% of the recovery if the case is valued under $1,000,000. If the defendant responds to the plaintiffs complaint by filing an answer, the cap is raised to 40%, with the possibility of another 5% if the case ends up going to appeal. Of course, these general rules can change based on the specifics of each individual case.

Have I waived my rights if I signed a consent form for a medical procedure or a general waiver of rights?

The average medical consent form is an acknowledgement of the risks that may be associated with the procedure.  It is not intended to deny you of your rights.  Even if you sign a medical consent form, the doctors and staff are still required to follow standard procedures and provide you with professional medical care.  You may be able to file a lawsuit if there is any deviation from these standards or if there is failure to follow medical safety guidelines.

General waivers of rights are much different from medical consent forms, as they are intended to free the other party from a certain amount of liability or to protect their right to enforce their policies.  You may buy a ticket to a sporting event that has a waiver printed on the ticket.  This is intended to protect against lawsuits by patrons who suffer event-related injuries at the sporting event.  This does not, however, ban law suits related to unsafe conditions or other types of negligence at the sporting event.

Whether you have signed a consent form or a waiver of rights, contact an attorney so they can discuss your situation.

Do I still have a case if I have fully recovered from all my injuries?

Of course! If you have suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation regardless of the stage of your recovery. The compensation may be limited to economic damages only depending on the nature of the case.

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