Following a traumatic event such as a car crash or slip & fall, you may be wondering whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
To determine whether you have a potential case, we will follow this basic three prong analysis…
1. Who is at fault?
If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another person (i.e. you were NOT a fault), we can help.
Sometimes determining fault is simple (i.e. you were rear-ended). Other times determining fault is complicated (i.e. hit & run, slip & fall at a stadium OR battered in apartment complex). Either way, we can help ascertain the at-fault party.
Of note, in Florida it does NOT matter if the officer ticketed the other party. The crash report and officer’s opinion concerning fault are inadmissible. In many cases involving crashes in intersections (i.e. turning left on green), the officer will not write a citation to either party. The at-fault party is usually listed as vehicle 1, however.
2. Are you injured?
We represent all types of individuals injured by the negligence of another. This includes individuals suffering from catastrophic injuries requiring emergent surgery as-well-as individuals suffering from injuries that are less significant. If you have suffered ANY injuries, we can help.
We oftentimes speak to clients who claim something to the effect of…“My neck hurts when I turn it to the left, I haven’t slept in days, and I’m taking 10 Advil a day…but I’m not really injured”.
I tell them…“Yes, you ARE injured! Shouldn’t you be compensated for your past and future medical bills, potential loss in wages, and pain & suffering?”
Just because you are not in a wheelchair does not mean that you are not injured.
Even if the hospital discharges you with a “clean bill of health” you may still be injured. In our experience, ER doctors check for “vital” damage, such as head injuries, broken bones, and punctured organs – not soft tissue injuries to your spine. Due to cost constraints, hospitals will almost never perform an MRI of your neck and back, despite your complaints.
Also, it is not uncommon for injuries (especially neck and back injuries) to get worse, not better, over the first 72 hours or so following a traumatic event such as a car crash.
Significant property damage is usually correlated to significant injuries. This is not always the case, however. We have represented individuals involved in major car crashes who claim limited injuries, as-well-as individuals involved in relatively minor car crashes who claim significant injuries. Everyone reacts differently to a traumatic event.
3. Is there insurance?
In Florida, this is usually the most difficult prong to satisfy. Also, this prong usually requires the assistance of an attorney and may take some time. You should start treating BEFORE determining coverage.
In an auto case:
We will request the at-fault party’s insurance limits (this is called a DEC page) to determine whether they purchased bodily injury (BI) coverage. In Florida, BI coverage is optional. If the at-fault party has BI coverage, we can almost always help (unless the policy is minimal and medical bills are already significant).
If the at-fault party did not purchase BI coverage or purchased inadequate BI coverage, we will seek to collect from your insurance by way of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Provided you purchased uninsured motorist coverage, your UM coverage would stand in the place of the at-fault’s coverage. UM coverage is secondary to BI coverage.
In some cases, the at-fault party is “self-insured”. Common examples are:
- School Board
- Police Department
- Large Companies
In those cases, we seek to collect directly from the at-fault party.
In a non-auto case (i.e. slip and fall, negligent security, etc.):
We will request the at-fault’s party insurance limits (DEC page) to determine whether they purchased commercial general liability (GCL) coverage. Most businesses have adequate GCL insurance, however.
Remember, if we can’t help you, due to a lack of insurance, you owe us nothing. We only get paid if you get paid.
Please call us 24/7 for a free consultation.