Personal injury law is frequently characterized as something of a circus, full of malingering, greedy “victims,” ambulance-chasing, shamelessly self-promoting injury lawyers and feckless jurors who award outrageous sums for no good reason. These stereotypes are often furthered by those in favor tort reform, which does little to prevent frivolous claims or lower insurance costs. Instead, it makes it more difficult for those serious injured by another’s negligence to obtain full and fair compensation.
It’s important to revisit some of these myths and misunderstandings every once in a while, because we hear from injury clients who wait months or even years before exploring their legal rights, assuming to do so is somehow selfish or it was partly their fault anyway and they should have known better.
Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers understand these concerns, so we wanted to take a moment to discuss some of the most common.
Personal Injury Lawyer Myth-Busting
We meet and talk with prospective personal injury clients every day, many of whom have been reticent to contact an attorney. Although the Florida Statute of Limitations F.S. 95.11 allows up to four years from the cause of action date in which to file your claim. However, the longer you wait the more challenging it can be to gather evidence, speak to witnesses and identify all potential defendants.
Here’s what you need to know to put your mind at ease when you call:
- I’m being greedy, aren’t I? You aren’t selfish for seeking fair compensation for injuries you sustained in whole or in part due to someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing. That concept is one of the cornerstones of the American civil justice system. And despite the way some cases have been portrayed in popular culture and some news outlets, most personal injury cases are real – car accidents, defective product injuries, dog bites, etc. – and it is absolutely within your rights and best interests to ask the insurer – which collects money for the very purpose of paying it when needed – to cover damages their insured rightly owes.
- I don’t want to sue my friend/ relative/ spouse. The vast majority of claims aren’t paid out by the named defendants but instead their insurers (particularly when they are individuals rather than corporations or government agencies). Yes, your loved one may be named as a defendant and you’ll be represented by different attorneys, but almost always, it’s the insurance coverage you’re seeking.
- I can’t afford an attorney. Can you afford free? Florida injury lawyers are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t collect attorneys’ fees if unsuccessful in helping you negotiate a settlement or win a favorable jury verdict. If they are successful, they collect a percentage of total compensation, which is determined ahead of time. That means they are selective about the cases they take and are unlikely to advise you to pursue a case that in their professional opinion is unlikely to prevail.
- It was probably my fault anyway. Firstly, a determination of fault is often more complex than you might expect. Secondly, even if you are partially at-fault for the accident or injury, Florida follows what’s known as a comparative fault standard, outlined in F.S. 768.81, that still allows pursuit of a claim, with damages proportionately reduced by plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Technically, even if you’re 99 percent at-fault, you can still collect the other 1 percent (though that’s not an outcome for which we ever strive).
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness or even a criminal attack on someone else’s property, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers are here to help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases, The Florida Supreme Court
More Blog Entries:
Families Seek Damages for Florida Keys Truck Accident That Killed Four Tourists, Sept. 22, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney Blog