What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
To qualify as a personal injury case, the victim or the injured party must have received his or her injury because another party was negligent. A multitude of situations and occurrences qualify for personal injury because the category is so broad. An experienced attorney can help a victim to discover whether his or her case is valid – and whether there is a likelihood of receiving monetary compensation from the at-fault (negligent) party. The most common personal injury negligence issues are found in car accidents, slip and fall, and trip and fall cases – however a valid personal injury claim may be found anytime you are injured due to the negligence of another.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence occurs whenever someone fails to act as a normal prudent person would typically act in a similar situation so as to compromises a person’s safety, health or well-being. Neglect occurs when a party fails to live up to those standards. A neglectful or negligent party does not have to be a professional organization or a business. A neglectful party could be a friend, family member, teacher, driver, animal owner, truck driver and more. Substantial evidence must be present for a jury to determine that a person or corporation was negligent. Miami personal injury lawyers specialize in proving negligence.
How the Courts (Jury) Establish Negligence
Typically juries establish negligence by listening to all parties and witnesses involved in an accident and determining the percentage of fault for both parties. A party may openly admit to his or her actions and settle the case immediately. An experienced attorney can present evidence that suggests a person or institution acted in a negligent fashion. A judge and jury will hear all testimonies and review evidence such as written statements, video from the incident, recordings and professional statements. At the end of the court case, the jury will apportion fault.
Fault and Percentage
Percentage of fault plays a huge part in a personal injury case. Florida is known as a comparative negligence state. Persons who are eligible to file suits may receive award deductions based on their level of fault. For example, a person who is 50 percent at fault for an accident will only receive 50 percent of any awards that the judge orders. Percentage of fault rules make injury cases equal for all parties involved in an accident.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
More than 100 personal injury subdivisions exist. However, the most common personal injury cases fall under the following five categories:
Automobile accidents are incidents that involve vehicle drivers. Approximately six million automobile accidents occur every year. Many accidents qualify for personal injury suits because they usually involve neglect of some party. The remainder of automobile accidents involves issues such as faulty machinery, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and most commonly: drivers who simply fail to pay attention and fail to follow traffic signals (rolling through stop signs, failing to notice a red light, texting while driving or otherwise not paying attention). A person who is hurt in an automobile accident should first seek medical attention and then contact a personal injury law office immediately to determine his or her chances at obtaining compensation.
Slip and Fall Occurrences
A slip and fall occurrence is a situation in which a person slips on a slick floor and falls. To qualify as a slip and fall occurrence, the victim must receive a documentable injury and the proper treatment. This person must also prove that he or she slipped because of another party’s negligence. A case of neglect may occur inside of a business establishment that fails to warn a customer about a freshly waxed floor. A restaurant may be held accountable for failing to mop a slippery food item off the floor. Additionally, a homeowner could be held responsible for a visitor who slips and falls on the ice outside of his or her yard. These are just a few examples; there are thousands of ways to get hurt on someone’s premises. But remember that the plaintiff (the injured party) has the burden of proving that the owner of the premises knew, or should have known, that a dangerous condition existed on their property – and failed to warn the invitee (the injured party) of the dangerous condition. This is not always easy to prove. For example, not everyone who slips and falls in Publix or Winn Dixie is able to sue those establishments – in the example of a puddle of water; you have to prove that the shopper in front of you didn’t simply just spill their bottle of water a minute or so before you were injured. We prove this by speaking to witnesses, taking in the general context of the situation (for example, was the water leaking from a nearby freezer or was it dark or murky – these things would indicate that the water had been there for some period of time).
Product Liability Cases
Manufacturers are responsible for providing the population with safe products. Products such as automobiles and toys must be manufactured and designed not to cause harm to another party. Manufacturers must also immediately notify the public of any risks of using their products. A consumer may bring a product liability case when a product causes severe damage or death. An example of a product liability case is an incident in which an infant ingests an improperly labeled toy. An automobile that causes death to a passenger because of a faulty seatbelt mechanism can cost a manufacturer millions of dollars.
Pharmaceutical companies are responsible for providing the public with information about their products such as proper dosage amounts and health risks. A person who becomes ill because of an undisclosed risk may be eligible for personal injury compensation. Examples of products that may cause consumer harm are birth control pills, skin care products, psychiatric medications and dietary supplements.
A dog or pet owner is responsible for the actions of his or her pet. This person must ensure that his or her dog does not act in an aggressive fashion. A dog owner who has reason to believe that his or her pet may become violent must warn potential victims and keep the pet on a leash or even muzzled. If the dog harms another resident, and that resident needs medical attention for the injury, then the resident may seek restitution for medical expenses. In Florida, there is no free bite rule. If a dog attacks someone (barring a defense such as if the injured person provoked the dog, or trespassed on the dog owner’s property) the owner is almost always liable.
Additional Types of Personal Injuries
Other types of personal injuries include fight injuries, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, workplace injuries, transport injuries, nursing home abuse, crime injuries, industrial disease, spinal cord injuries and more. A multitude of incidents and situations can qualify an injured person to receive compensation from a negligent party. Therefore, speaking with a personal injury professional shortly after receiving an injury is important for proper processing of the complaint.
What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Do?
Personal injury attorneys are hired legal professionals who will fight for a victim’s rights. Their first mission is to establish trust between themselves and their clients. Their second mission is to prove that another party wronged their clients in some way. Personal injury lawyers gather evidence through consultation with their clients, as well as communication with the accused party and witnesses. They build strong folders that they can present to a jury or insurance adjuster who may award their clients economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering).
How Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
A Miami personal injury firm can help a client by offering moral support, legal guidance and loyalty. This person will do everything in his or her power to obtain compensation for a client’s losses. An attorney can conduct tasks such as requesting medical documents, completing and filing legal documents, negotiating with an accused party, and explaining a client’s damages. Our goal is to have clients who feel educated and informed throughout the process. Our personal injury clients speak to lawyers, not paralegals or case managers.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Operate
Many personal injury offices operate in a client-friendly fashion. Their objective is to help accident victims, and they understand that such victims are struggling emotionally and financially after an accident. Therefore, our offices will provide free case evaluations and consultations. They do not charge their clients for these meetings, because many clients will fail to seek help because of the costs. Many accident victims do not realize that their situations qualify for compensation. Attorneys use free consultations as incentives to get victims to seek help. Most victims are surprised to find that they qualify for large amounts of compensation.
Most Miami personal injury lawyers offer contingency representation. Contingency representation means an injured victim will not have to pay legal fees until he or she receives a settlement or verdict award. At such a time, the law office will generally obtain 33.3 percent to 40 percent of the settlement. This practice relieves stress for the client, as he or she does not have to worry about costs. Some personal injury offices also provide risk-free service, meaning that a client who does not win a settlement will also not have to pay legal costs (which are not the same as legal fees), make sure you ask your personal injury lawyer about this policy.
The Process of Filing for Personal Injury
The first step in the process of filing for a personal injury case is contacting a reliable law firm. A potential client can do this by either completing an online form or calling a dedicated telephone number. Someone from the law office will schedule an initial consultation. During the initial consultation, the potential client and representing attorney will get a chance to speak to each other and see if they are a good match. A respectable attorney must display a certain amount of charisma, compassion and transparency. The potential client may choose to move forward if the attorney meets his or her expectations.
An experienced personal injury lawyer may try to negotiate with the accused party, or their insurance company, to expedite the client’s recovery. He or she will send a letter notifying an accused party of the client’s intent to bring a claim for personal injury. Such a letter may include details about the injury and the way it occurred. Additionally, it may request payment from the offending party. The offending party can oblige the client by offering to settle out of court, or it may deny the allegations. Some accused parties may ignore the letter altogether. Some large corporations will settle during the negotiation stage to keep their names out of the media. Other accused parties will challenge the accusation and go to court instead.
Parties that do not agree to settle out of court must defend themselves in front of a judge and jury. During this stage, a victim’s personal injury lawyer will use all his or her resources to establish 100 percent fault of the accused party. He or she will use images, documents, expert testimony, accident reconstruction, and day-in-the-life videos to demonstrate to the jury how deeply the accident affected the victim’s life. The general rule of thumb is: if you were not hurt, you do not need a lawyer. However, if you are in any pain that did not exist prior to an accident caused by the negligence of another, you should contact a reputable personal injury law firm who will not charge you to meet, discuss your case, or in the event if they are not successful in obtaining monetary compensation. As long as you know this, there is no risk involved in hiring a lawyer today.