01 Feb Do I Have a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Have you recently been injured on another’s property or because someone else made a mistake? Are wondering if you have a personal injury case on your hands?
There are a variety of situations that may seem like viable personal injury claims, but it’s not always clear whether or not you really have a case. How do you know? The only way to know for sure is to seek counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney. By going over the specific details of your case, he or she will be able to let you know if you are likely to win a claim and what options are available to you.
What are some things that you will want to be ready to talk about when you meet with an injury lawyer?
Circumstances Surrounding Your Injury. When you’re injured, it’s often hard to recall the exact events. But in order for an accident attorney to advise you accurate, he or she will need to know what happened and who or what was involved. Did another driver run a red light and hit you? Was the light out when you fell down the stairs?
In any personal case, you must be able to prove that your injury was a direct result of someone else’s carelessness, neglect, or failure to inform you of a particular risk. This applies in car or boat accidents, slips and falls, injuries in someone’s business or home, dog bites, you name it. If you were not made aware of the risks to your safety or someone acted in a way that placed you in danger, you most likely have a case.
Your knowledge of the danger and your actions. Keep in mind, however, that Florida courts will often take into account your involvement in the negligence, and will deduct a certain amount from the damages awarded to you if you are deemed to be partially responsible. Let’s say, for example, you are ruled to be 30% at fault for slipping on someone’s floor because you knew it was wet. That means the property owner is 70% responsible for paying any damage awarded to you. If you win $10,000 in compensation, you would receive that amount minus 30% — or, in simpler terms, you’d get $7,000.
What You Did after Your Injury. If you are in an accident, the first thing that you should do is seek medical help. Even if it doesn’t seem like your injuries are very serious. You should do this for a couple of reasons.
The first is for your own health – injuries sustained in accidents aren’t always obvious at first, and by waiting you can make the problem worse. The second reason to get medical help quickly is because waiting can be used against you. In certain situations, you are legally obligated to seek help within a certain time period or you forfeit your ability to file a claim. For example, if you are involved in an automotive accident, you have to get checked out by a doctor no more than 2 weeks after the incident or you lose your chance to get compensation. Beyond this, not having yourself checked out quickly allows the defense to call your claim into question. Maybe your current problems aren’t really due to the incident. Maybe (as mentioned above) waiting made the issue worse – and more costly! There are a number of different arguments the defense can use against you if you don’t seek out prompt medical treatment.
How Long It Has Been. Our state says that you have four years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit. For claims against the government – state, city, or county – the statute of limitations is three years. And, of course, there’s the specific law mentioned above that prevents you from being compensated in a car accident if you don’t see a doctor within two weeks.
If you have missed out on any of these deadlines that pertain to your particular situation, you may not be able to file a claim.
How Much You Are Expecting. For the most part, Florida law doesn’t place limits on the amount of damages you can receive when you are injured due to someone else’s negligence. However, if you are bringing forth a malpractice suit against a medical practitioner, or if you are seeking punitive damages against someone, those do come with strict caps.
This information doesn’t necessarily tell you whether or not you have a valid lawsuit, but it is good to know going in that there are limits in specific cases and for particular types of damages.
If you believe you pass muster on all of these things, the next step is to sit down with a personal injury attorney and talk about the next steps.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.