Frequently Asked Questions—Personal Injury
What types of personal injury cases are there?
There are many types of personal injury claims but the most common is an allegation that you were injured through the negligence of another person. Negligence occurs where a person fails to use reasonable and ordinary care under the circumstances. For example, as person who runs through a stop sign has failed to use reasonable and ordinary care for other drivers/pedestrians on the road. If this negligence results in an injury, the victim has the option to bring a lawsuit against the perpetrator. Common types of negligence actions including auto accidents, slip and fall cases and injuries arising from dog bites.
What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?
If you are involved in an automobile accident the first thing that you should do is call 911. The emergency first responders can assess the situation and get you immediate medical attention if necessary. The police officers will determine who they believe to be at fault and they may issue a citation to that person. They will also arrange for your vehicle to be towed so that it can be examined by the insurance company. In the meantime, if you are injured the EMT or paramedics will help you determine whether you need to go to the hospital immediately or whether a follow-up visit with your primary physician will suffice.
What do I do if I am injured in a car accident?
If you are injured you should: (a.) go to the hospital if necessary or at least make an appointment to see your primary physician as soon as possible; (b.) adhere to all follow-up treatments and examinations prescribed by your doctor and; (c.) keep a written record and back-up documentation for all out-of-pocket medical expenses you have incurred.
If you decide to make a claim for injuries, it will be very important to demonstrate that you consistently followed your doctor’s order with respect to your care and treatment. If a treatment regimen is order by the doctor but you follow it sporadically this will substantially lower the value of your case. For example, if your doctor orders you to go to physical therapy three times per week but you miss every other appointment; the insurance company, and possibly a jury, will assume that you are not as injured as you claim.
Who will pay for my medical bills if I am in a car accident?
In Florida, drivers are required to carry PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION or PIP insurance. PIP insurance is no-fault and will cover the first $ 8,000.00-10,000.00 of your medical bills regardless of who is to blame for the collision. When you go to the doctor/hospital, simply provide them with your automobile insurance information and they should be able to take care of the rest.
If you have medical bills in excess of the PIP coverage, you will need to make a claim against the insurance company of the driver who is at fault. This claim can take some time to resolve but many doctors will go ahead and provide you with treatment on the condition that you promise to re-pay them when you settle your claim. In the meantime, once your PIP insurance is used up you can, and should, submit any bills to your health insurance company. If you later settle your case, you will need to pay the health insurance company back for bills that it pays on your behalf. However, the health insurance companies generally pay doctors discounted rates so you generally won’t have to pay them back as much as if you simply pay for treatment on your own.
What should I do if I am injured in a slip and fall?
If you are involved in a slip and fall that results in injuries you should: (a.) report the incident to the store/property manager giving him/her your name, address and telephone number; (b.) take special note of what substance you slipped on; (c.) if possible, take pictures of the substance and the surrounding area; (d.) if possible get the names, address and telephone numbers of any other customers who saw you fall or who observe the substance that you slipped on and; (e.) if the substance that you slipped on got on your clothes you should keep them in a plastic bag (unwashed) so that they can be used as evidence later.
Of course, you should immediately seek medical attention if you are hurt and follow all of your doctors’ instructions.
What should I do if I am bitten by a dog?
If you are bitten by an animal you should immediately take the following steps: (a.) report the incident to the police and animal control so that they can investigate both the bite and the animal (to determine whether it has any diseases; (b.) if available, get the name, address and telephone number of the dog’s owner; (c.) go to the hospital as dog bites (even those that don’t seem that bad) can become infected or lead to other conditions; (d.) take pictures of any injuries; (e.) follow your doctor’s instructions.
Should I deal with the insurance companies if they call?
You should not speak with the other driver’s insurance company and you definitely should not sign any documents without having them reviewed by a qualified attorney. The insurance company may try to get you to sign a release, accept money immediately or waive your rights in some regard. BE AWARE, the other driver’s insurance company is not on your side and they have no obligation to protect your interests. Likewise, your own insurance company may require a statement under the terms of your policy. When you do so, be aware that the insurance company often has a financial interest in minimizing your claims. Therefore, make sure that anything you tell them is both accurate and responsive to their questions.
Should I get an attorney to assist me?
Although an attorney is not strictly required to make a personal injury claim; it will often add significant value to your case. An attorney will know what cases like yours are generally worth and will be able to use this information to your advantage in negotiations with the insurance company. Additionally, attorney’s often have knowledge of, and relationships with, the medical community. This often allows them to direct you to the most appropriate physician, get you an expedited appointment and could even result in a reduced bill at the end of the process. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney before taking any action. Most personal injury attorney’s, including the Ferraro Law Group, offer a free consultation for personal injury cases so that you can learn valuable information to help you preserve your rights. Also, an attorney likely will not charge you an up-front fee. Instead, the attorney will likely work on a contingency fee which will be paid if, and when, there is a recovery.