Personal Injury FAQ
The following are the questions most frequently asked by our new clients:
- Do I have a (good) case?
- How much is my case worth?
- How do you prove my case?
- How much is this going to cost me?
- Do I have to pay expenses or costs?
- What if I don't have or can't afford a doctor?
- Will my case go to trial?
- How long will my case take?
- Will I be kept updated on my case?
DO I HAVE A (GOOD) CASE?
All personal injury claims require the presence of three elements:
- Liability (ie. is the other person or company at fault)?
- Damages (did I suffer physical, financial, or emotional harm)?
- Payment (does the at-fault party have money or assets that are recoverable)?
If all three are present, usually your case is one you will want to pursue.
Liability means fault. Who caused the accident? More than one person or company could be at fault. If that is the case, the negligence of each party may be compared and used in the determination of your recovery.
Damages ask the question, how have you suffered? What have you lost as a result of the accident? Typical examples of damages include lost wages, your past and future medical bills, pain, suffering and inconvenience (future, past and present) due to your physical or mental condition.
Source of Payment
Sources of payments mean from whom will you collect your damages? Most of the time, the at fault's insurance company will make payment for the negligent person or corporation. There may be some payments by your own insurance company through your uninsured/underinsured motorists' coverage from an auto accident. If there is no insurance, an asset check may be done to determine if the at fault party has money or property that is recoverable.
HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH?
Every case is unique. Several factors determine the settlement or jury verdict value of a case. In almost all auto accident cases, medical negligence, or slip and fall claims factors such as your age, the severity of your injuries, your earning potential, the degree of fault and even the geographic location are all key elements in arriving at a reasonable settlement figure. There are numerous case valuation services reported on a County, State and National level. These services report recent jury verdicts and settlement amounts based upon numerous fact patterns. The attorneys of Blake & Dorsten, P.A. are always happy to discuss the various ranges of your claim. Often it's difficult to evaluate the settlement value of a case in the beginning. As your case matures the severity of your injuries and your economic losses are better defined by making case values more objective with less guesswork.
HOW DO YOU PROVE MY CASE?
The responsibility of proving your case begins the moment you select Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to represent you. Your case may take a number of months to resolve and therefore evidence gathered today may not be available when the case is ready for settlement or trial. The first step is to investigate liability. In the case of an auto accident or slip and fall, an attorney or a private investigator gets witness statements, takes photographs and/or preserves the scene digitally if needed. In certain cases, a technical expert, such as an accident reconstructionist, architect, or engineer, is employed. Often there is a need to see a medical specialist in order to better understand your injury and course of treatment.
HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST ME?
Blake & Dorsten, P.A. handles nearly every personal injury claim on a contingency fee basis. This means that the fee you pay will ordinarily be a percentage of the total amount of the recovery we obtain for you. Simply put, if there is no recovery, there is no attorney fee owed. In an automobile case, the lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will never charge an attorney fee to process Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits, to resolve damage to your car (Property Damage claim), and/or the costs of obtaining a rental car (Rental Car Claim).
DO I HAVE TO PAY EXPENSES OR COSTS?
As mentioned above, there is no charge for costs or expenses if no recovery (money) is obtained. Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will waive all costs incurred by our firm if there is not a successful resolution to your case. Our firm is reimbursed for the actual costs and expenses out of your settlement, not out of your own pocket.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE OR CAN'T AFFORD A DOCTOR?
Many times the person best suited to treat your injury or sickness may be your family doctor, a medical specialist referred by him/her, or the emergency room. If you do not have a family doctor and/or are unable to afford proper medical treatment, Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will be happy to assist in finding you appropriate medical care. Most physicians are willing to accept PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or insurance assignments and some doctors are willing to treat patients on a promise to pay upon the completion of your case. Call now for a free consultation with an attorney from Blake & Dorsten, P.A. if you need assistance in this area.
WILL MY CASE GO TO TRIAL?
There is a good possibility that your case will settle without the need for a trial. However, settlements in the client's best interest come only from a position of strength. Strength means preparation. It means the gathering of evidence from the moment you select Blake & Dorsten, P.A. as your attorney(s). It means having available the experts, medical and otherwise, who can present the evidence in a light most favorable to your case. A case properly prepared with sufficient support to confront and counteract an insurance company's position is the best strategy to a favorable pre-suit resolution. Most cases settle pre-lawsuit; approximately 95% of cases settle before a trial; and approximately 99% of all cases settle after a lawsuit has been filed, but before a jury has reached a verdict.
Of course some cases must go to trial, either because the Defendant refuses to settle, or because the Defendant is not offering enough money to compensate you for your damages. Most, if not all of these cases, are tried in front of a jury. The trial generally takes place in the Florida County where the accident or death occurred. If it appears that a jury trial is likely, you will spend many hours of preparation with your attorney. Many times, the lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will conduct a comprehensive mock trial with you as a participant.
HOW LONG WILL MY CASE TAKE?
Every case is unique and there is no telling how long your case will take from start to finish. The lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. direct their full efforts toward a prompt and successful resolution of your case from the second they began. The case investigation is followed by your individual medical treatment and a recovery period. During this period, which can last from a few weeks to over a year, your medical progress is monitored by the gathering of medical reports from your doctor(s) and treatment providers.
When you reach a point of "maximum medical improvement" you will receive a final analysis. A final analysis occurs when your medical treatment has completely rehabilitated you or you have reached a plateau. Shortly after your doctors have discharged you, a settlement presentation/package (e.g., demand) will be prepared by us and forwarded to the insurance company with a demand for a monetary settlement. The demand package includes a lengthy analysis of liability, a detailed report of your injuries and other damages, and your demand for money damages.
Within four to eight weeks following the settlement demand, your attorney will know whether negotiations will lead to a pre-lawsuit settlement. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, a lawsuit will be filed. Depending on how quickly the Judge can hear your case, most cases are tried within 12 to 36 months following the filing of a lawsuit.
WILL I BE KEPT UPDATED ON MY CASE?
At Blake & Dorsten, P.A. we believe that client communication is vital in helping to resolve claims quickly and successfully. In light of this, we invite your questions during the pendency of your case and will keep you fully informed about your case progress in the following ways:
- At your request, copies of pertinent correspondence can be mailed regularly to you.
- Client/Attorney "face to face" or phone conferences can be scheduled usually with 48 hour's notice.
- E-mail is responded to daily and avoids the annoyance of missed telephone calls or "phone tag".