Frequently asked questions regarding Personal Injury
If we win damages for your injury claim, you are responsible for paying the attorney fees, which amount to about 1/3 of your award. You are also responsible for the costs of your case, which include—
- Investigative expenses
- Copy charges
- Filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Court reporter charges
- Any other costs of your case
Specific fees vary by case, but your initial consultation is always free.
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, we will be happy to speak with you. Most of the bodily injury cases we take involve significant injuries to a joint (including the spine) or trauma to the head. Many of our injury clients are also seeking disability benefits or have suffered a significant loss of income in the past or future as a result of their injuries.
Assuming that there is no question about who was at fault in your accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for the following:
- past and future medical bills
- past and future lost wages
- pain and suffering
- reimbursement for property damage
Calculating the amount of past medical bills that are either unpaid, or paid subject to a lien, is the easiest part of calculating your damages. However, determining your future medical bills can be quite difficult and is dependent upon the opinion of your treating physician. This opinion is often challenged by the insurance company’s physician. In order to recover for pain and suffering caused by an auto accident Florida law requires that, as a prerequisite to recovery, you suffer a permanent impairment or disability. Whether your injury is permanent is also often challenged by the insurance company’s physician.
Even if the insurance company concedes that you have a permanent injury, they often disagree as to the value of your claim. Therefore, arriving at a fair settlement can be difficult and requires competent legal counsel.
Under Florida’s no-fault laws, even if the accident was caused by the other driver, your insurance company pays your bills under the PIP (personal injury protection) section of your policy. Most PIP policies pay 80% of your bills up to a maximum of $10,000. You are entitled to recover the unpaid medical bills from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Some people have med pay coverage in addition to their standard PIP coverage. The med pay coverage will pay the 20% portion of the bills not paid by PIP and may provide additional coverage, often another $5,000.
Sometimes we have clients who have a $2,000 deductible on their PIP policy. Unfortunately, under Florida law this portion of the unpaid medical bills cannot be recovered from the at-fault driver.
Q. What if my PIP (personal injury protection) coverage is not sufficient to pay all of my medical bills?
If you still need medical treatment after your PIP and med pay coverage have been exhausted, some physicians will treat you under a “letter of protection” (LOP). An LOP is a letter signed by your attorney in which the lawyer agrees to pay the unpaid medical bills out of the recovery realized in your case. If the physician agrees to accept an LOP you can continue treating until your case is resolved at which time they will be paid. However, payment of the medical bills are ultimately the patient’s responsibility if the recovery is insufficient to pay the medical providers the amount that they are owed.
In bodily injury cases, the attorney’s fee is a percentage of the total recovery before deduction for costs and medical bills. In addition to the fee, you are responsible for paying the costs of your case. Costs are any expenses that the attorney needs to pay on your behalf in order to prosecute your case. They include, but are not limited to, investigative expenses, copy charges, filing fees, service of process charges, court reporter charges, and expert witness fees.
Most bodily injury cases are settled presuit. This means that your costs will likely be minimal if the case can be settled early. However, if suit must be filed, you will have to pay a filing fee (the fee charged by the Clerk of Court) and for service of the summons and complaint (charged by the process server). We normally do not incur substantial costs without discussing it with you first.
Decisions to file suit are made jointly between the attorney and the client. We normally only recommend filing a suit if the insurance carrier has refused to make a reasonable settlement offer and only after all efforts have been made to settle your case.
Filing suit means that legal papers are filed at the courthouse. It formally places the defendant on notice that a claim is made against them. If the case is not settled after suit is filed, a judge or jury will determine your entitlement to a recovery and the amount of the recovery.