Hiring an attorney may or may not be necessary depending on the stature of your claim and the severity of your injury. Small claims court in Florida will handle claims up to $5,000. If your injury is a minor one that will not result in any incapacity, or substantial medical care, then you may want to pursue it yourself in small claims court.
An attorney should be consulted if you have been seriously injured or are unsure as to the outcome of your injury. Personal injury cases can get quite complicated. In such cases, an attorney will have the legal expertise, time and resources to effectively handle your claim.
Most attorneys who believe a case has merit will take the case without payment up front. They will take the case on a contingency basis, which means they will receive a percentage of your award if and when you recover for your injuries. The Florida Supreme Court and the Florida Bar have adopted a maximum fee schedule that attorneys are permitted to charge in contingency fee cases. Generally speaking, contingency fees may not exceed 40% of the first $1 million, 30% of the second million, and 20% of all amounts over $2 million.
The law requires that you file a lawsuit within a specified period of time depending on the nature of the claim and the entity that caused your injury. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. Failure to file suit within this time frame prevents you from filing suit at all. In Florida, an action for recovery of damages for injuries based on a cause of action for negligence must be brought within four years from the date of accrual of the cause of action. The statute is tolled for minority or previously adjudicated incapacity, but in all cases the action must be commenced within seven years after the date of the incident.
For purposes of calculating a settlement, a claim is valued upon an estimate of what a jury would likely believe the case to be worth, taking into account the severity of the injury, the effects of the injury on your life and the negligence of the other party. If you were partially at fault for the accident, the amount of damages will be reduced proportionately. Benefits received from collateral sources, such as an insurance agency, will not be used to reduce your recoverable economic damages. Any settlement will be reduced if there appears to be a good chance that the claim will not be successful. Other factors that may reduce the damages include past medical history, pre-existing injuries, and prior claims history.
Yes. Your medical bills are a significant factor when assessing how much you are awarded if your claim is successful. Your medical bills are a reflection of your “pain and suffering” which is directly related to how much compensation you should be owed. Under Florida law, a plaintiff may recover for past, present, and future injury medical expenses in a personal injury claim but only if those expenses are or were directly related to the injury the claim is being brought forth for.