Compensation for Your Harms and Losses in a Personal Injury Claim – What You Should Know

In Florida, each year approximately 3,000 people die due to traffic crashes. Many more each year are seen in Florida’s emergency rooms following serious car accidents. According to a recent a report, accidents cost $164.2 billion, each year.

If you sustained injuries in a motor vehicle crash due to another’s carelessness, you may recover money damages for the harms and losses you sustained from the at-fault party.

Evaluating a personal injury compensation claim

In order to determine whether you have a claim, an effective accident injury attorney should quickly establish that another party’s careless or negligent conduct caused your harms and losses. This is oftentimes initially done by your attorney evaluating the damage to the vehicles, visiting the scene of the crash, reviewing the crash report, interviewing witnesses and through evaluation of traffic laws.

Documenting Harms and Losses

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash, your personal injury attorney will review your medical and employment records and meet with you to discuss the demand for payment from the at-fault driver and his insurance company. In addition to payment for past, present and future medical bills and lost time from work, you are also entitled to compensation for disfigurement, loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, pain, inconvenience, among others.

Sources of Compensation for your Harms and Losses

All too often, Florida drivers do not maintain bodily injury coverage, meaning coverage for you if they case a motor vehicle accident. If that is the case, your attorney will determine if you maintain uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for your harms and losses. If neither applies, your attorney will look into the financial condition of the at-fault driver to determine if he/she has the ability to pay a judgment relating to your harms and losses.

What to Look for When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

Hiring an accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash is critical, but hiring the right attorney is equally as important. The size of an attorney’s phone book ad does not coincide with the skill of the attorney. Here are a couple important factors to consider when hiring an injury attorney:

1. Ask attorneys and friends or family for a recommendation,

2. Ask the attorney how many personal injury cases he has litigated,

3. Ask the attorney what his/her game plan is for your case,

4. Ask the attorney about his/her caseload. If an attorney has 200 cases, that is probably a sign that he/she will take in most cases and not have much time to spend on your individual case.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general information provided to you “as is”, it does not constitute legal advice and the author is not acting as your attorney. No claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, or adequacy of the information contained in, or linked to this article or website, and its associated sites.

How To Find The Right Injury Attorney

If you have been a victim of an accident, finding an experienced injury attorney, fully familiar with the litigation process, is the first step in assuring that your case is handled properly and expeditiously. However, with so many attorneys advertising on radio and television, how does one choose the right representative? Here are some ideas to help you make an informed decision:

*A lot of people start by asking family members, friends or co-workers about their past personal injury attorneys. However, you must keep in mind that the details of their relationship should include more than just whether the attorney was a nice and friendly person to deal with. Find out how the case turned out, was the person you asked advice from satisfied with the result, did the lawyer deliver on his promise, how long did the litigation process take. Get their in-depth opinion about the law firm, not just subjective emotional statements.

*Find a firm that specializes in personal injury cases. An injury attorney, handling auto accidents and medical malpractice cases on a daily basis, will have more experience and understanding of the legal process and procedures than someone who primary handles real estate transactions and only occasionally litigates accident cases. The attorneys who deal almost exclusively with victims of another’s negligence keep up to date on all the legal developments, insurance rulings and judicial appointments in the courts, since this information is essential to their practice. When you meet the lawyer for the first time, inquire about his area of practice and the kinds of cases he or she has handled.

*Check the web for review of the attorney. Auto injury attorneys often maintain up to date websites where they list how long the firm has been in existence, any notable verdicts, types of cases they handle and much more. Do a little comparison shopping; read testimonials from past clients that are often posted on the website and check how long the attorney has been in practice, as well as what law school he or she graduated from.

*Inquire as to whether the first consultation is free or if there is a charge for you to speak to the attorney. You may be unsure about the attorney after you meet him for the first time, but there is a tendency to stick with that attorney if the client had to lay out several hundred dollars for a consultation. Find someone who will be able to meet you for a no cost, no obligation meeting and if necessary, meet with more than one attorney. If your case will have to be litigated in court it will probably take few years before it is resolved. Make sure you are comfortable with your representation and provided with respect and care that you deserve.

*Meet the firm’s staff, since a lot of times secretaries and paralegals will be doing a lot of paperwork for your case, call you with case progress and speak to doctors and insurance providers on your case. These should be knowledgeable and experienced people who’d be able to update your injury attorney regularly on case status and any updates. Don’t be afraid to ask for their credentials.

Consider the aforesaid ideas in mind when choosing your legal representation and you’d be on the way to finding the right injury attorney for your case.

The Obligations Owed by a Personal Injury Attorney to a Client

A personal injury attorney owes their client certain obligations, not necessarily as a matter of law, but also as a matter of ethics and good practice. Here are some the obligations an attorney owes their client, and which you should demand from your personal injury attorney.

1. Secrecy. Everyone knows that attorneys are obligated to maintain client secrecy. Ethical rules prohibit an attorney from disclosing any conversation with a client. Further, state laws provide a very strong privilege to attorney-client communications. Under said laws, no person, court, or governmental agency can force an attorney to disclose privileged to attorney-client communications.

2. Truthfulness. Attorneys owe their client, the court, and the public at large a duty of truthfulness. This is required by the ethical rules. An attorney generally must generally be forthcoming and cannot hide material information from the client or the court, unless protected by a privilege.

3. Loyalty. Attorneys owe their clients a duty of absolute loyalty. Ethical rules require attorneys to perform conflict checks before even discussing a case with a potential client. Ethical rules also require attorneys to prevent conflicts from occurring by requiring attorneys to decline representing potential clients in certain situations. Further, in the event a conflict of interest arises during the course of representation, ethical rules require the attorney to withdraw from representing any client in the controversy.

4. Diligence. Attorneys owe their clients an obligation to regularly communicate with their clients and to promptly move their clients’ cases forwarded toward a resolution. Diligence and promptness in this context does not require daily or weekly communications and activities but, instead, what is required or reasonable under the circumstances.

5. Following Instructions. In general, attorneys are obligated to follow their clients’ instructions regarding the goals of the representation. Ethical rules also provide that the client, not the attorney, has the absolute final say regarding settlement. However, the attorney has final say regarding tactical decisions, such as which motions to file and when, what to say in court and when, and the like. Clients are not attorneys and are not permitted to manage the daily activities of the litigation. Similarly if you hire a pilot to transport you to a certain location, you have the right to control the goal, landing at your chosen destination, and the right to change that goal, such as demanding to land at a different destination; however, you have no right to dictate the tactics of achieving that goal, such as air speed, altitude, and the other aspects affecting the safe control of the aircraft.

The foregoing is just a brief synopsis of obligations a personal injury attorney owes their client, and which you should demand from your personal injury attorney.