Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident, you probably have many questions, including: What will your road to recovery look like? When can you return to work? Can you receive compensation? What should you do next? A personal injury lawyer can help answer your questions and guide you through your recovery by potentially securing financial compensation via a settlement or jury award to help pay for your medical treatment, lost wages, pain-and-suffering, and more.
Personal injury law, or tort law, refers to civil litigation involving injuries and harm caused by someone else’s wrongful actions or negligence. Personal injury lawyers seek to get the person who caused the harm (the defendant) to compensate their clients (the plaintiff) for their incurred and ongoing or future damages related to their injuries sustained in an accident. To do this, your lawyer plans or strategizes the best course of action to get the best possible results, whether that means settling or taking the case to trial. There are a lot of ways a personal injury attorney can guide you throughout the entire legal process.
How a local Miami personal injury attorney can help you
Personal injury cases stem from car, truck, and bicycle accidents; slip and fall accidents; nursing home abuse; medical malpractice; and workplace injuries. No matter the specifics of your case, your personal injury lawyer can help you by:
Explaining your rights
Many different laws govern various types of accidents. For example, states have different laws regarding statutes of limitation (time limitations to file a lawsuit) or comparative negligence (who is at fault for the accident and thereby liable for the resulting injuries). A personal injury lawyer can explain the specific laws that directly apply to your particular case. Florida personal injury lawyers can explain how Miami’s laws, specifically, might impact your compensation claim.
You don’t need to stumble through complex legal procedures on your own. Personal injury attorneys are trained to handle legal protocols for you and can act as your guide. Having an expert by your side is extremely helpful for determining your next best steps; interpreting medical, insurance, and legal jargon; and drafting and filing the various forms required to initiate your case and move it through the litigation process. Lawyers can give you objective advice during a stressful and confusing time.
Your claim needs evidence to support it. You may need to gather this evidence from different sources. Your lawyer can:
- procure police reports and medical reports
- find witnesses and take witness statements
- take pictures and gather camera footage
- organize evidence like bills, employment documents, property damage reports, etc.
Evidence is essential to establish liability and determine the extent of damages, directly impacting the amount of compensation you can receive.
Connecting with professionals
Over many years of experience, personal injury lawyers establish business relationships with relevant people. Medical reports are crucial for injury cases, and a personal injury lawyer might know medical specialists who successfully provided desired results in previous cases.
Also, outside experts, such as professional investigators or accident reconstruction experts, may help your case. A personal injury law firm is likely to have connections with professionals who can assist you as you work with your attorney to develop a solid claim.
Assessing total damages
The direct aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, emotionally, physically, and financially. Many people find themselves focused on immediately pressing matters, such as making up for lost funds from being off work for a period of time, repairing damaged property, and handling medical bills. Accident victims might not be aware of their accident or injury’s long-term effects as they deal with the short-term to get from one day to the next. A personal injury lawyer can help identify all past, present, and future damages to deduce a more accurate estimation of compensation needed, considering things like long-term disabilities and therapies or a prolonged or permanent loss in earning capacity.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
When speaking to an insurance company, there are many things injured victims may unknowingly say or agree to that can jeopardize their claim. Personal injury lawyers are trained to handle these communications to prevent shifts in liability. Lawyers also understand policy details, helping determine the maximum amount of compensation an insurance company can offer so you don’t receive less than you deserve.
Your personal injury lawyer is responsible for sending a demand letter to the insurance company after investigating and gathering evidence. A demand letter outlines the facts of the case, including accident details, relevant policy language, and medical outcomes, and states the compensation demanded to settle your claim. This letter is a crucial step in the legal process, and it’s beneficial to have a lawyer’s expertise when drafting one.
Understanding a variety of legal processes
Personal injury cases can go through a variety of legal forums, including:
- Informal negotiation with insurance companies both before and after you file your lawsuit in civil court
- Alternative dispute resolution
- Arbitration, if your own insurance company is involved
- Mediation, when a neutral third-party helps the parties to the lawsuit resolve the case without court intervention
- Litigation, when your lawyer pleads your case to a judge or jury at trial
Litigating in court
When trial is unavoidable, having a lawyer to litigate your case is necessary to ensure the most productive preparation process and beneficial outcome. Most personal injury cases are resolved via settlement before a lawsuit is needed. If your personal injury case is taken to trial, your lawyer can represent you and establish the elements required to support your claim.
Parties to a lawsuit must follow specific procedures and rules of evidence throughout the litigation process and at trial. These rules can be numerous and complex. Having a lawyer already knowledgeable about personal injury laws and court protocols helps secure a successful judge or jury verdict for damages and award for compensation.
What does your personal injury attorney do on your case?
As outlined above, your personal injury lawyer guides you throughout each step of your personal injury case, including:
- Planning and preparation
- Pre-litigation research
- Filing of the complaint
- Pre-trial motions
- Possible settlement
Common personal injury claims
A valid personal injury claim can stem from various situations where someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions caused an injury, including:
- Transportation accidents
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Boating accidents
- Mass transportation accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Premises liability
- Negligent security
- Slip and fall accidents
- Animal attacks
- Construction site injuries
- Water leaks or flooding
- Product liability
- Uber and Lyft accidents
- Wrongful death
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Criminal intent to harm
All personal injuries are devastating, but some injuries are categorized as “catastrophic injuries” by Florida Statute 766.118. These injuries are so severe that they have life-long impacts on lifestyle, enjoyment, and employment. Catastrophic injuries per Florida law include:
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in full or partial paralysis
- Amputation of an arm, a hand, a foot, or a leg
- Traumatic head injuries and brain damage
- Multiple bone fractures
- Second- and third-degree burns over a percentage of the body
- Loss of reproductive organs resulting in infertility
Calculating the full extent of damages for catastrophic injuries is more difficult because there can be many intangible losses, such as pain-and-suffering and loss of consortium.
Common personal injuries in Miami
Common personal injury cases in Miami include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common predicate of personal injury claims in the US, with over 2.3 million people injured in motor vehicle collisions, and Miami is no exception. Florida had 3,133 fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2018, ranking the Sunshine State third that year in states with the highest total fatalities.
In most states, the driver responsible for the accident can be held financially accountable for any injuries incurred. Though, Florida is one of twelve “no-fault” states in America. No-fault laws essentially require drivers to collect compensation from their own insurers rather than the careless drivers’ insurance carriers.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accident claims fall under premises liability laws and are a significant cause of injury for millions of people each year. Individuals and businesses in the US spend about $2.45 billion annually on expenses related to accidental falls. These falls often occur because of unsafe walking surfaces in public spaces like stores or restaurants. Other dangerous conditions on someone’s property, such as faulty wiring, loose or broken floors, unsecured carpets, and dangerously stacked or precariously placed objects, can also lead to slip and falls.
Florida’s premises liability laws mandate landowners must maintain their buildings in safe and secure conditions for visitors. Florida building code laws impose safety regulations and uniform standards property owners must meet to operate as a business or establishment welcoming individuals onto the premises. If building owners choose not to comply with these safety regulations, the owner or operator of the premise is legally liable for injuries caused by the dangerous conditions they created or neglected to correct.
When healthcare professionals fail to provide the appropriate medical standard of care to their patients resulting in patient injuries, they may be subjected to a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is a relatively common occurrence. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with preventable mistakes causing 195,000 patient deaths in hospitals each year. Between 2004 and 2014, Florida saw 12,226 payments for medical malpractice lawsuits, with 70 of those case-outcome payments totaling more than two million dollars.
Nursing Home Abuse/Neglect
Florida is a popular retirement destination, and with an aging population, Florida faces a potential uptick in nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits. Examples of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
- Bedsores (resulting from a health care worker’s failure to move a patient when they are bedridden)
- Bruising from rough handling
- Weight loss from neglect
- Untreated urinary tract infections (UTIs), possibly leading to sepsis
- Medication errors
Proving negligence is paramount to the success of your personal injury claim. Sustaining an injury in a car accident, on someone else’s premises, or because of someone else’s defective product doesn’t automatically establish liability. Another person’s negligent actions or inaction must directly result in your injury for that person or company to be held liable.
Negligence is generally defined as a careless action or a failure to act in a reasonable manner. For example:
- A drunk driver is a negligent driver because they are not acting in a reasonably responsible manner while driving.
- A property owner who refuses to repair broken floorboards is negligent for not providing a safe environment for visitors.
- A dog owner who allows a dog with a history of biting to run outside without a leash is negligent and thereby liable if their dog bites someone again.
Supporting your claim of negligence requires you to establish the following four elements:
First, you must show that the negligent party had a duty of care. In general, everyone has a legal obligation to act reasonably to avoid injuring other people. In addition to this general acknowledgment, the law specifies duties of care extended to certain people. For example, bus drivers and pilots have a higher duty of care to passengers, and businesses have a duty of care to avoid causing foreseeable injuries to customers.
Next, you must show that the offending party breached that duty. For example, if a restaurant does not place a “slippery floor” sign on wet floors or a bus driver uses their cell phone while driving, these actions would constitute a breach.
- Actual harm
Third, you must show that you sustained injuries resulting from the breach of duty. You’ll also want to prove that you consequently incurred economic or non-economic damages. You can use medical reports from your doctor to help show harm to your person.
Finally, the breach of duty needs to be the cause of your injuries. The most significant consideration to prove causation is whether the defendant could reasonably have foreseen their actions or inaction were likely to cause an injury. If an injury happened unexpectedly, it might be deemed an unforeseeable accident, lessening or altogether eliminating the defendant’s liability.
Also, the US has contributory and comparative negligence laws. These laws further divide comparative negligence laws into modified comparative negligence and pure comparative negligence, with each state choosing the standard to abide by. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence law, affecting how your personal injury lawsuit is handled in Miami.
Different states can have different laws relevant to personal injury matters. A Miami personal lawyer can explain what these laws mean, how they apply to your case, and how they might affect the case outcome.
Florida observes the no-fault system for accident-related injury cases. No-fault states require drivers to go through their own insurance carriers to receive payment for injuries sustained in a collision, regardless of who caused the accident. These states necessitate purchasing “Personal Injury Protection” (PIP) to accompany all insurance policies. PIP insurance covers expenses such as legal fees, lost wages, and medical bills in case of a car accident.
Since you will receive a payout through your insurance company rather than waiting on a lawsuit, the upside is that the turnaround time for you to get paid is much faster. The downside of Florida’s no-fault system is that PIP policies interfere with the ease of personal injury lawsuits when additional funds are needed.
When your injuries warrant increased compensation, no-fault states make it more difficult to file a lawsuit to get the higher payment you deserve because these laws are designed specifically to reduce lawsuits due to driver negligence. In most cases, you can only recover economic damages such as vehicle repair costs, actual medical expenses, and lost wages. In more severe cases, you might have an opportunity to receive non-economic damages for pain and suffering.
Florida's Pure Comparative Negligence
Florida adopted a pure comparative negligence system that assigns fault to multiple people involved in an accident. This means the court may apportion some percentage of fault to the injured plaintiff in addition to the negligent defendant. With pure comparative negligence, the awarded compensation (or the amount the defendant needs to payout) is reduced by the plaintiff’s amount of fault contributed as determined by the court.
For example, if you’re suing another driver for crashing into your car, it’s unlikely that you’ll have 0% fault unless another driver rear-ended you. If your actions are deemed 20% negligent in causing the accident, your compensation will be capped at 80% of the total recovery rate. Having an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer can help ensure you receive the highest percentage of compensation.
Statute of limitations
Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. This means you have four years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. If you want to file a personal injury claim against the government (e.g., city, county, or state), the statute of limitations is only three years. For medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is reduced to two years.
Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
After you’re injured in an accident, you likely have many questions. Let us help answer those questions so you can focus on your recovery.
What should I do after an accident?
There are several steps you should take after an accident, including:
- Make sure you’re safe.
Before anything else, make sure you’re safe. If you’re injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t go to the hospital in an ambulance. Some injuries don’t present immediate symptoms but can become more severe. Also, medical information documenting your injuries can benefit you in a lawsuit. Don’t refuse medical attention due to costs. You can recover these expenses if you win your case, and your health and safety come first.
- Report the accident to law enforcement.
This applies mostly to motor vehicle accidents. A police report and charges against the other driver can be crucial when filing a subsequent legal action.
- Speak to a personal injury lawyer
A lawyer can help ensure you get fair treatment and justice, especially if you want to consider pursuing a personal injury, wrongful death, or civil lawsuit. Your lawyer can handle your personal injury claim from pre-suit to settlement or trial to gain compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, future life care needs, pain and suffering, and more. A lawyer can also help file a wrongful death claim for family members coping with a loved one’s death.
- Do not talk to insurance companies without a lawyer.
After an accident, insurance companies will likely try to contact you. Let a lawyer handle communications with any insurance company that reaches out to you. Insurance companies may try to offer you a low settlement in an attempt to avoid paying fair compensation, and they may attempt to get you to say or agree to something to devalue your claim intentionally. It’s always best to speak to a lawyer before signing anything with an insurance company. Whether you want to go to trial or negotiate a fair settlement, speak to a lawyer first.
It’s also vital not to rush into a settlement until you understand the full extent of your injuries. An injury that seems minor initially may become something worse at a later date. You want to receive a fair settlement that’s comparable to any lasting harm you might experience affecting your ability to work or overall quality of life. A lawyer can use this information to get you the money you need to assist in your ongoing recovery.
When should I file my case?
Every state has a statute of limitations restricting the time period for filing civil litigation claims, including personal injury claims. Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is generally four years, but there are special cases that may carry more stringent restrictions (i.e., claims against the government must be filed within three years and medical malpractice cases are two years).
Filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit takes time. There’s a lot of evidence to gather, such as medical records and bills, police or incident reports, and documents that verify your income. Your lawyer may also need time to find witnesses to support your claims about the accident. To build an effective case, contact a lawyer as soon as possible, so the statute of limitations doesn’t expire before you get your lawsuit started.
What type of compensation a Miami personal injury attorney can help me recover?
The damages you can claim will depend on the circumstances of the accident and your specific injuries. Common damages include:
- Medical expenses : Ambulance rides, emergency department visits, hospitalization, X-rays, surgeries, and more
- Future medical costs : Around-the-clock care for long-term disability, extensive recovery requiring further surgeries
- Rehab and recovery costs : Physical therapy, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, walkers
- Lost wages : If you miss work after a serious accident, you may be compensated for wages you would have made if you were able to do your job
- Future lost wages : If a severe injury prohibits you from returning to work
- Property loss: You can be compensated for damaged property
- Non-economic losses : Because of Florida’s no-fault system, these damages are more difficult to obtain, but in severe cases, your attorney can fight for them
- Pain and suffering : You might be entitled to compensation for the physical pain and suffering endured because of the accident
- Mental anguish : You and your family may be compensated for emotional suffering caused by your injuries
- Loss of consortium : This applies to the spouse of the victim who can receive compensation for the loss of companionship and sexual relations due to your injuries
How long does a personal injury lawsuit in Miami take?
Every personal injury case is different, so the amount of time a lawsuit requires can vary. Parties can settle a case in a matter of weeks, months, or even years if your case goes to trial. There are some extreme cases, but most lawsuits are settled out of court in a few weeks or months. How long your specific case might take relies on many factors, including:
- The specifics of how, where, and why you were injured
- The amount of medical care you need to receive
- Whether parties agree on fault apportioned to all
- Whether parties agree that the accident caused the injury
- The amount of time required to collect and evaluate evidence
- Whether a court is involved or the parties settle the claim out-of-court
- How busy the court’s schedule is
When a personal injury case is delayed, it is usually because of three reasons:
- Legal or factual complications: Disagreements over facts of the accident or more than two parties directly involved (ie, many defendants and multiple attorneys)
- If the compensation sought is substantial: More compensation means a larger case, which equates to more time
- Medical treatments: Cases can be delayed if the victim is still receiving medical treatment and unable to be actively involved in the lawsuit
What if I am injured at work?
Employers must give Florida employees injured at work worker’s compensation benefits via insurance they’re required to carry. If an employee is involved in a work-related accident or becomes ill from conditions on the job, the employer’s insurance company will pay for the employee’s medical expenses, lost wages, and potentially compensate the employee for permanent impairment and job retraining, regardless of fault.
Your employer must report the injury within seven days after they learn about the accident. The insurance company must send you an informational brochure within three days of being informed by your employer. If your employer does not report the injury, you can report the injury yourself.
The amount of worker’s compensation benefits you can receive will vary significantly based on your medical treatment and time needed away from work. In general, the bi-weekly benefit check will be two-thirds of your average weekly wages. Under Florida law, you will not receive compensation for the income you would have earned for the first seven days after your injury. Though, if your disability extends over 21 days, the insurance company may pay your income for those first seven days.
There is no legal requirement for your employer to hold your job for you as you recover. But also note that Section 440.205 of Florida Statutes states that it is against the law to fire an employee for filing or attempting to file a worker’s compensation claim.
A lawyer can help you if your employer and their insurance company deny your claim for worker’s compensation benefits. Your lawyer can also determine other types of benefits you qualify for, such as permanent total disability benefits, temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, impairment benefits, and more.
What if a government employee injures me or if I'm injured at a government entity?
You can be paid for damages if the State of Florida or any of its state agencies (counties, municipalities, or villages) cause your injury resulting from their negligence. The government is also responsible if an employee of a city or county in Florida intentionally hurt you while acting within their employment scope. For example, you can hold Miami-Dade county responsible for a county police officer committing assault and battery on you during an arrest. Florida laws do limit the amount of money the government will pay for an employee’s actions. The most that any city, county, or the State of Florida has paid thus far is $200,000 to one individual and $300,000 for one accident.
If the government employee is not working within the scope of their government job when their negligence or wrongful actions injure you, then the employee alone is responsible—the government has no liability for your injuries.
What if I contributed to the accident?
Florida adopted a pure comparative negligence system. Under this system, courts might determine that you contributed to an accident. Even if you already know you are partly at fault, you can still file a claim. The compensation awarded to you will be limited by how the percentage of fault attributed to you. For example, if you are 40% to blame, and the other person is 60% to blame, you can still make a claim against the other party, but the money you receive will be reduced by 40% to reflect your share of fault in the accident.
Apportioning blame for an accident is complicated, but a personal injury lawyer can walk you through the process and fight to minimize your decided fault and maximize your percentage of the awarded compensation.
What if I have a pre-existing condition?
Even if you have a pre-existing condition, you can still receive damages for injuries directly caused by someone else. Though, you may see a reduction in your compensation to account for the pre-existing condition. Nevertheless, you can hold the other person accountable for aggravating your condition.
Do I need a lawyer for a personal injury case?
Some personal injury cases are simple and straightforward enough to be resolved directly between you and the insurance companies. This is usually the case if the fault is clearly the other party’s and neither party is severely injured. Though, there are situations where it’s not wise to take your chances without an attorney. For example:
- if the facts of the accident are disputed
- if there are more complex elements to the accident
- if you have injuries that are unusual or significant
- if the other party is not admitting liability
- If there is a lot of money at stake
- If your case requires expert testimony (as is common with medical malpractice or product liability cases)
How can I pay for my local Miami personal injury attorney?
Most personal injury attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis, which means they recover fees for representing you only if you recover compensation from the at-fault party. These fees are subtracted directly from your payout per a percentage you establish at the start of your attorney-client contract.
If a negligent party injured you, contact us now to learn about your rights and how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.