Have you or a loved one suffered severe injuries in an accident or due to negligence?
Accidents can take a physical, emotional, and financial toll that may last for years. When an accident occurs because of the negligence of another, that can make the situation all the more frustrating.
The last thing you want to worry about is dealing with insurance companies and filing a legal action.
Retaining the skilled attorneys at Distasio Law Firm to handle the negotiations with insurance agencies and pursue the maximum compensation on your behalf could allow you to focus on recovery.
If someone else’s careless or reckless behavior led to the injuries of you or someone you love, call an experienced Wesley Chapel personal injury lawyer at Distasio Law Firm as soon as possible at 813-259-0022.
When to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In Florida, personal injury claims are usually based on a theory of negligence, which is a legal term that essentially means carelessness. A person is considered to be negligent if they fail to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. For example, if a reasonable person would not text and drive (in violation of Florida law), then a distracted driver who causes a severe car accident could be held liable for any losses that they caused.
Generally, to prove that a person was negligent, the injury victim (plaintiff) will have to prove four things:
- Duty: The at-fault party (defendant) owed them a duty to use reasonable care
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way
- Causation: this violation was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries (i.e., but for the defendant letting their aggressive dog run off-leash, the dog bite wouldn’t have happened)
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses as a result
Importantly, there are slightly different standards for proving negligence in different cases. In a medical malpractice case, for example, the standard isn’t what a reasonable person would do – but what a reasonable medical professional with similar training and experience would have done. For premises liability cases (slip and falls), a property owner may be considered negligent if they fail to fix or warn people about a dangerous condition on their property.
People can be negligent in many different ways. In some cases, the injury victim may even be partially responsible for an accident. Under Florida’s comparative fault laws, the plaintiff can still recover for their losses even if they were somewhat to blame for the accident – as long as their share of the fault is 50% or less. Their total recovery will then be reduced by the percentage that they were to blame.
In some cases, the defendant didn’t just act negligently – they may have intentionally hurt someone, or their recklessness caused harm. In these situations, you can still file a claim against the at-fault party. For example, if staff at a residential care facility physically hurt a resident, then they could file a nursing home abuse lawsuit.
Issues related to negligence can be complicated, and you may not even be sure if you are able to file a lawsuit. A Wesley Chapel personal injury attorney will work with you to help you understand your rights and options for pursuing a legal claim. If you hire our law firm, we will fight for your right to maximum compensation. Call for a free consultation now 813-259-0022
Getting Compensation in a Florida Personal Injury Claim
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you may be uncertain of what your case is worth. The value of any given personal injury case can vary considerably, based on factors like the severity of your injuries, whether you were partially at fault, and what type of insurance the at-fault party has. During a free initial consultation, your personal injury lawyer can give you an estimate of the value of your case – which may increase or decrease as the case proceeds.
Generally, you may recover two types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate an injury victim for their losses and are available in every personal injury case. Punitive damages are only awarded in situations where the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly, as their goal is to punish a wrongdoer (which doesn’t include someone who was merely careless).
Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages pay for direct financial losses, while noneconomic damages pay for intangible losses. Examples of economic damages include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Other costs, such as moving to a new nursing home or modifying your home to accommodate a disability.
Noneconomic damages may include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Economic damages are usually easy to prove through documentation like invoices, estimates, and paystubs. It can be harder to prove noneconomic damages, but they are no less important when it comes to getting enough money to truly cover your losses.
Insurance companies often use a multiplier to come up with a number for noneconomic damages, where they pick a number based on how serious your injuries are, and then multiply it against your economic damages. A skilled Wesley Chapel personal injury lawyer will push back on artificially low noneconomic damage offers, using their experience with similar cases and the opinions of experts in the field.
Finally, punitive damages may be awarded in more unusual cases where a defendant acted intentionally or recklessly – such as in a drunk driving accident. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct. In Florida, punitive damages are capped at the higher of 3 times economic damages or $500,000.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been hurt in any type of accident in or around Wesley Chapel, it is incredibly important that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Initial consultations are free of charge, and you are under no obligation to hire a law firm to handle your case. It is a great opportunity to learn more about your rights, the value of your case, and your options for pursuing a claim.
The at-fault party’s insurance company may reach out to you soon after an accident. They may tell you that they accept responsibility or even offer a settlement. An adjuster may also ask you to make a statement or to sign some paperwork.
You should not talk to the other side’s insurance company, give a statement, or sign any paperwork before consulting with a lawyer. The adjuster’s role in this situation is not to make sure that you get the money that you deserve. Instead, their goal is to try to resolve the claim for as little money as possible.
By contrast, an attorney is required to advocate for your best interests. They will thoroughly investigate the underlying facts of the case and research Florida law to put together the strongest possible claim for compensation. They will fight for your rights – and will work to get you the maximum possible recovery.
The process starts with sending a demand letter to the insurance company. This letter will outline the facts of the case and the legal reason that their insured is liable, and then make a demand for compensation. Insurance companies will usually respond to your lawyer with a counteroffer.
Most personal injury claims are resolved outside of court, often through a settlement. In some cases, your attorney will need to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. They will continue negotiating with the insurance company even after a lawsuit has been filed, right up to the eve of trial.
The likelihood of getting a fair settlement is higher when you have legal representation. The insurance company will know that they can’t just offer you a lowball settlement and get you to sign away your rights. They will know that you are ready, willing, and able to go to trial if necessary – which is often a motivating factor in getting the case resolved.
If your case does go to court, then your lawyer will make arguments, present evidence, and question witnesses. At the close of the case, they will ask a jury to return a verdict in your favor. The trial attorneys of the Distasio Law Firm have the knowledge and skill necessary to get the best possible outcome for their clients, whether through a settlement or verdict at trial.
Studies show that people who are represented by legal counsel in personal injury cases recover an average of 40% more than people who represent themselves. If you want to get top dollar for your personal injury claim, then your best option is to work with an experienced Wesley Chapel personal injury attorney.
Personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay nothing upfront and only pay a fee if your lawyer recovers money for you. You won’t have to pay an hourly fee or a large retainer. Instead, any attorney’s fee will be paid as a percentage of your total recovery. In this way, you’re not risking anything by hiring a lawyer to help you with your case. Call to speak to our dedicated Wesley Chapel lawyers today 813-259-0022
Time Limit to File the Legal Action
Under Florida Statutes § 95.11, the length of time you have to file a lawsuit varies depending on the type of injury for which you are filing the claim. For most personal injury claims, the deadline to file the case is two years from the accident date. However, depending on the circumstance, some actions will have longer and shorter allowable periods. For example, an exception would be if the injured party was a minor when the accident occurred.
Because the time limits vary, hiring a proactive accident injury lawyer in Wesley Chapel could help you file all petitions within the court’s allowable timeframe and avoid unnecessary delays.
Personal Injury Covers Many Injuries and Areas of Law
Personal injury law or tort law covers many areas of law and protects people from negligence, wrongdoing, or recklessness. When a civil action case is successful, the responsible party pays the injured party compensation for the damages that caused them. Because Florida tort law covers such a wide range of law, you should consult a Wesley Chapel personal injury attorney, such as Scott Distasio, who has the experience necessary to represent you well.
Personal injury lawsuits may include:
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle crashes
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Defective products
- Dangerous drugs
- Slip, trip, and fall injuries
- Catastrophic injuries
- Wrongful death
There is a requirement of physical injury, losses to some degree, and financial loss for personal injury cases. You must prove that the defendant was negligent, which led to your damages in a civil court hearing. You can provide proof of this through doctor’s notes, medical bills, and other receipts.
Call a Wesley Chapel Personal Injury Attorney Today
You may not know where to turn or begin after a severe injury caused by another person’s negligence. Many who are in this position find themselves feeling uncertain about their entire life and future. If careless or reckless behavior led to your damages and injuries, you likely have many questions and concerns. You do not have to face these worrying times by yourself.
An experienced and compassionate Wesley Chapel personal injury lawyer could handle insurance company communication and legal filings and advocate on your behalf in court if needed. Keep in mind that there are strict periods when you must file the claim with the civil court. Call Distasio Law Firm today to get started on your case and one step closer to the fair compensation you need and deserve.