Speak with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer to Get the Compensation You Deserve
Being injured in an accident is a difficult, stressful and often painful experience. Accidents can also raise a number of complicated questions about who is to blame. That is why it is vital for you to have a seasoned Florida personal injury lawyer by your side.
At Searcy Denney, our personal injury lawyers have helped people injured in accidents recover billions in damages via settlements and court verdicts. We assist clients by fighting for the full compensation available under the law. We also provide our clients with the confidence to focus on their physical recuperation, knowing that our team is working aggressively to protect their rights.
How Much Compensation Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
Regardless of who or what caused your injuries, in order to recover compensation, you need to be able to prove your claim for damages. This requires proof of:
- The cause of your injuries,
- The extent of your injuries, and
- The long-term effects of your injuries.
Even if you only have a no-fault PIP claim (which you should not assume until you speak with an attorney), you will still need to prove that you suffered your injuries in the accident. If you do not have evidence to prove that your injuries are accident-related, you can be almost certain that your insurance company will deny your claim for coverage.
How do you prove a claim for damages after an accident in Florida? Proving your claim requires:
- A prompt and comprehensive on-scene investigation;
- Follow-up investigation to obtain relevant records, video recordings and other evidence;
- Immediate medical attention to document your diagnosis;
- Follow-up medical treatment and medical records;
- Collection of bills and receipts; and,
- Ongoing documentation of the effects of your injuries.
Whether you have been injured in a car accident, a collision with a truck, a slip and fall or you have had a mishap with a defective product, we have the resources and experience to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable. Our personal injury attorneys take the time to understand each client’s personal situation and we craft an approach that is tailored to their specific needs.
What a Personal Injury Attorney at Searcy Denney Will Do for You
Most personal injury claims have three primary stages: (i) investigating the claim, (ii) preparing the claim, and (iii) negotiating a settlement. However, if the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to settle, then there may be additional stages involved as well – including taking your claim to court. Here is an introduction to what you can expect along the way when you work with one of our Florida personal injury lawyers:
1. Preparing Your Claim
Preparing your claim is the most important stage of the process. Preparation involves gathering all of the documentation needed to convince the insurance company to settle (such as medical and employment records) and determining the total amount that you are entitled to recover.
When filing an insurance claim, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and if you do not have the evidence to support your claim or you ask for less than you deserve, then you are going to give the insurance company the upper hand.
2. Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Once our attorneys thoroughly prepare your claim, we will submit a demand for payment to the at-fault party’s insurance company. This will start the negotiation process, which will involve our attorneys going back and forth with an insurance adjuster to try to arrive at a mutually-agreeable settlement amount. If the insurance company makes a fair settlement offer, we will calculate exactly how much you will take home so that you can make an informed decision about resolving your claim.
3. Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance company does not make a fair settlement offer during these negotiations, then our injury attorneys will file a lawsuit in court. While this will result in a trial date being set, settlement negotiations will continue, and there is still a good chance that your claim will settle before trial.
4. Pursuing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
In some cases, pursuing a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation or arbitration, may provide the most-efficient means of securing a favorable result. If this is a viable option in your case, our personal injury attorneys will represent you throughout the process.
5. Going to Trial
Finally, if the insurance company simply refuses to offer a fair settlement, then our lawyers will take your case to trial. Our Florida personal injury lawyers will present all of the relevant evidence in court, and we will hire expert witnesses to paint a clear picture of exactly what happened. At the end of trial, the judge or jury will render a decision. If you are satisfied with the decision, your case will likely be over. If you are not, your Florida personal injury lawyer can determine if you have grounds to file an appeal.
What Damages Will My Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Pursue?
Florida law gives people injured in accidents the right to seek compensation from those responsible.
The money damages typically available in accident cases are generally designed to compensate people for the financial impact of an injury. That includes covering current and future doctor’s bills and other medical costs. Additional compensation is also usually available for lost wages while recuperating and any impact that the injuries may have on your future earning capacity.
In certain cases involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct, extra punitive damages may be imposed as a way to punish those responsible for recklessly causing your injuries.
In tragic cases in which a person is killed in an accident, his or her family members have the right to seek similar compensation for wrongful death. They can seek much of the same money damages that would have been available for their loved one had the person survived, as well as funeral and burial costs.
To obtain this compensation, you have to first prove that the person or entity responsible for your injuries is legally liable. A seasoned attorney can help you build the strongest possible case.
How You Can Pursue Compensation in a Florida Injury Claim
A Florida personal injury lawyer from Searcy Denney levels the playing field. When you are hurt in an accident, insurance companies and big corporations can make it difficult to get fair compensation for your injuries. Our accident and malpractice attorneys are well recognized throughout the state of Florida as highly skilled and powerful trial lawyers who go up against the strongest opponents and win.
Seeking Fault-Based Damages After an Accident in Florida
In most cases, claims for financial compensation are based on the concept of fault, or “negligence.” If you were injured in an accident and the accident was someone else’s fault, then you may be entitled to full compensation for all of the financial and non-financial losses that you have sustained (and that you will sustain in the future) as a result of your injuries. This is generally true for accidents such as:
- Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Car accidents resulting in significant and permanent injuries
- Commercial truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents
- Watercraft and boating accidents
What does it mean to be “at fault” or “negligent” in an accident? Negligence take many different forms, from texting behind the wheel to failing to repair a dangerous sidewalk. Due to the numerous ways that individuals and companies can be liable for accident-related injuries and the challenges that are often involved in proving liability (more on this below), we recommend that you contact a Florida injury law firm regardless of who or what you think might be to blame for your injuries.
Seeking Financial Compensation Based on “Strict Liability”
Were you injured by a defective product? If so, then you may not need to prove negligence in order to secure a financial recovery. In Florida and other states, product defect claims are often governed by the law of “strict liability.”
Under the law of strict liability, companies that design, manufacture, and sell defective products can be held liable without proof of negligence. This is intended to ensure that companies are held responsible for selling dangerous products – and incentivize them to take the steps necessary to avoid putting dangerous products in consumers’ hands. Unfortunately, accidents involving defective products still happen all the time. If you were injured by any of the following (or any other type of product), you should speak with a personal injury lawyer about filing a claim for compensation:
- Airplane or boat (or any component)
- Car, motorcycle, SUV or truck (or any component)
- Children’s furniture, toy or playground equipment
- Construction tool or equipment
- Household product or appliance
- Landscaping tool or equipment
- Medical device or pharmaceutical
Seeking “No-Fault” Compensation for Injuries from Vehicle Collisions
If you were injured in a car accident in Florida, then you may be entitled to file a claim for “no-fault” compensation under your personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Most Floridians have PIP coverage of up to $10,000 for their medical expenses and lost wages. But, while this may sound like a good thing, it actually presents a number of challenges for individuals who have been seriously injured in vehicle collisions.
- Despite being “no-fault” coverage, auto insurance companies will often aggressively fight accident victims’ PIP claims.
- In order to recover compensation beyond PIP, you must be able to prove that you have suffered a “significant” or “permanent” injury.
- If you are entitled to coverage outside of PIP (either based on negligence or strict liability), this is not something that the insurance companies are going to tell you.
For these reasons, even when filing a PIP claim with your own insurance company, it is still a good idea to select an attorney at our Florida personal injury law firm to represent you.
Establishing Fault with the Help of Your Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
Most personal injury cases are based on claims of negligence, which is a legal theory that holds people and entities responsible for failing to live up to a “duty of care.” The infographic below and the following information reveal the basics of negligence that your attorney will try to prove.
A person alleging negligence has to prove that the person or entity he or she is suing didn’t live up to a specific duty of care. That means you must first show that there was a duty and then explain how it was breached. A well-versed Florida personal injury lawyer can make the appropriate arguments on your behalf. For example, police reports, witness testimony and – in some cases – accident reconstruction evidence is often central to proving negligence in car crash cases. On the other hand, observations from people who witness a slip and fall on a slick floor in a grocery store aisle, as well as testimony from employees about the floor’s condition before that accident, can also go a long way in premises liability cases.
Florida is a “comparative negligence” state. That means that a person who is partly to blame for his or her own injuries can still obtain some damages. A person who runs through a cluttered or wet grocery store aisle, for example, may be considered 35 percent responsible for a slip and fall. Still, that person may obtain up to 65 percent of the available money damages with the help of a lawyer.
Proving Causation for Your Accident
A person seeking compensation for injuries sustained in an accident also must prove what courts refer to as “causation.” To be clear, this means that you have to show that the negligence specifically caused you to be injured.
Take, for instance, a person who suffers whiplash and a broken arm when the car he is driving collides with a speeding truck. An insurance company or the trucker’s employer may try to explore whether the injured person already had some or all of those injuries before the crash. Alternatively, they may argue that the injuries were caused by another source, like a faulty seatbelt.
Causation is just one of the complicated legal issues that can arise in these types of cases. It is another area in which a Florida personal injury lawyer with a strong track record in personal injury litigation can provide important assistance. You, however, can assist your injury lawyers by using our checklists to keep your possible evidence organized.
Mediation and Arbitration for Personal Injury Claims
Taking your case to trial does not always guarantee the best results. For many victims, personal injury mediation or arbitration is a faster, cost-effective, and confidential way to receive fair compensation.
- Mediation: When the injured person and the insurance company try to reach an agreement with the help of an unbiased mediator.
- Arbitration: A neutral third party, usually a retired judge or lawyer, hears arguments from both sides and determines the outcome and the amount of the financial award.
If you have the opportunity to participate in mediation, you have the right to work with an attorney to protect your interests. At Searcy Denney, our attorneys have helped Floridians injured in accidents recover billions in damages. We assist clients by negotiating for the full compensation available under the law.
The Personal Injury Mediation Process in Florida
Mediation is a collaborative process. Both parties have the opportunity to present their arguments and work together under the supervision of a neutral third party to reach a favorable outcome. The mediation process is structured to allow for both sides to make a fair argument.
- The mediator makes an opening statement. It includes information relevant to both you and the insurance company.
- Each side is allowed to tell their side of the story. In most cases, your attorney will present a prepared statement. Our personal injury mediation attorneys use charts, graphs, and other visual aids to demonstrate your claim’s value.
- After everyone has spoken, you have the opportunity to discuss options and solutions in private. When you are ready, the mediator will present these options for discussion.
- The negotiations and decision-making phase will continue until both sides reach an agreement and settle the case.
Our lawyers have decades of combined experience fighting for the people we represent at the negotiating table. We understand the strategies that insurance companies often employ to try to reduce or avoid payouts.
The Arbitration Process for Injury Claims
If you feel you may be unable to reach an agreement during settlement negotiations, arbitration is sometimes an option. Arbitration is an alternative to a trail. A neutral third party serves as the arbitrator and determines the outcome of the negotiations. While it may sound simple, arbitration is a complicated process. There is a 10 step process required before the proceedings can even begin.
Every case is unique, and the decision to arbitrate should be made with the assistance of an experienced Florida injury lawyer. There are procedural requirements, filing deadlines, and other bureaucratic pitfalls that may work against you.
What to Do While Our Personal Injury Attorneys Fight for Your Case
While your law firm will be able to handle many aspects of your claim for you, there are steps that you personally can take as well. In fact, the more involved you are throughout the process, the greater your chances of maximizing your compensation as quickly as possible. Here are five tips for helping your attorneys achieve a favorable result on your behalf:
1. Avoid Resuming Activity or Returning to Work Too Soon
After suffering traumatic injuries in an accident, you need to take your recovery seriously. Rest as recommended by your doctor, and make sure you do not resume activity or return to work too soon.
2. Refer All Inquiries Regarding Your Case to Your Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
If you are contacted by insurance adjusters (or anyone else) regarding your case, you should refer all inquiries to your attorney.
3. Keep an Injury Journal and File
Try to keep a daily journal in which you record all of the various ways your injuries impact your life. Also, keep a file in which you place all records, receipts, scans and other documents related to your personal injury claim.
4. Stay Off of Social Media
While your personal injury case is pending, stay off of social media. The insurance companies will be watching; and, even if your profiles are private, the insurance companies’ lawyers may still be able to gain access through the courts.
5. Stay Involved in Your Case by Actively Communication with Your Lawyer
Finally, stay involved in your case. Your lawyer will need to speak with you regularly, and the more engaged you are, the better your outcome will be.
Why You Need to Hire a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible after an Accident
In order to recover just compensation, you will need to engage a Florida injury law firm to represent you. Here are five reasons to schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible:
1. Evidence Could Disappear
Aside from any evidence you have in your possession, the evidence needed to prove your claim could begin to disappear quickly. Your personal injury lawyer will need to conduct an investigation promptly in order to preserve all of the additional evidence that is available.
2. Eye Witnesses Could Forget Key Details
Your injury law firm will also need to get in contact with any witnesses and obtain statements from them before their memories start to fade. It is also important for your law firm to interview witnesses first before their recollections are skewed by the insurance companies.
3. The Insurance Companies Will Try to Take Advantage of You
If you do not have a lawyer, the insurance companies will try to take advantage of the fact that you are not represented. They will try to get you to settle for minimal compensation, and they will not inform you of key factors that could drastically impact the value of your claim.
4. You Could Make Costly Mistakes If You Don’t Speak to an Injury Lawyer Quickly
In addition to settling for too little, there are numerous other mistakes you need to avoid as well. During your initial consultation, your attorney will advise you of common mistakes that could jeopardize your claim for damages.
5. You Could Run Out of Time
If you wait too long to seek legal representation, you could run out of time to file your claim. All personal injury claims are subject to statutes of limitations in Florida; and, as a practical matter, the longer you wait, the harder it will become to establish liability and recover your losses.
Personal Injury FAQs
How do I know if I have an injury claim?
In order to find out if you have a claim, you will need to discuss your case with an attorney. Accident claims are complicated, and there are numerous factors that will go into determining your legal rights. At Searcy Denney, our Florida personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations, and we can tell you if you have a claim for damages.
Is there a time limit for filing a personal injury claim in Florida?
Yes, in Florida, all personal injury claims are subject to a “statute of limitations.” This is a law that limits the amount of time you have to assert your legal rights. If you wait too long and the statute of limitations expires, you will lose the ability to seek just compensation. In most cases, the statute of limitations is four years from the date of the accident. However, there are exceptions, and it is important that you discuss your case with an injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer to handle my claim?
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to the negligence of another, you should discuss your case with a Florida personal injury lawyer skilled in handling accident claims. The legal system can be complicated, so it is best to get advice from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after an accident occurs. At Searcy Denney we will fight to protect your rights and interests at each step of the process so that you can get the full financial compensation you are entitled to receive.
How much is my case worth?
The amount of compensation you are entitled to receive also depends on numerous factors. The extent of your injuries, what you do for work and whether you may have played a role in causing the accident are just a few examples. Once our lawyers have the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate your case, then we can tell you exactly how much we believe we can recover on your behalf.
How do I know if you are the right personal injury firm for me?
At Searcy Denney we want you to be confident in your decision to hire our firm. We offer free, no-obligation consultations where you can discuss your case with a Florida personal injury lawyer. When you are dealing with an accident or other personal injury claim, the thought of hiring an attorney can be overwhelming. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible for you. We are caring and compassionate attorneys who will answer your questions and provide you with the support and guidance you are looking for every step of the way.
Reach Out to a Caring and Determined Florida Personal Injury Lawyer at Searcy Denney
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Sunshine State, you have the legal right to seek money damages from those responsible. It is crucial that you have a proven attorney in your corner.
Our team of dedicated legal professionals is ready to fight for you. Our offices are conveniently located in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. Call us toll-free at 888-549-7011 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.