Were you in a Car Accident But Don’t Feel Injured?
And what should I do? We see cases all the time in our practice where it could be a minor accident or could be a significant accident. And you're able to walk away. You don't really feel like you're hurt. And you may not feel like you need to go to a doctor, but that's not always the case, even with a minor accident.
The truth is that often symptoms such as minor aches and pains and stiffness can be signs of an underlying serious injury. Car wrecks are stressful events. And when we're under stress, our body produces adrenaline, it produces endorphins, and that often hides what is really going on in our bodies. And oftentimes we hear from clients who initially felt like everything was OK. There were a little sore, a little stiff, but they end up finding out that there's actually something a lot more serious going on.
There are some injuries that actually take days, weeks, even months to show real symptoms. And so the important thing to do after any accident is go get seen by a medical professional because they will be able to do some imaging and scanning, such as MRI's, x rays and the like, which can show what is really going on inside your body. Often what's happened in a car accident is that inside your body, often in your spine, there are injuries and changes that have happened as a result of the accident that only those scans and images will show.
And the other benefit of seeing a medical professional soon after the accident is it will ensure that you can take advantage of no fault or personal injury protection, also called PIP Insurance, which is something that we address in a different video.
The truth is, we're not doctors and most of you out there aren't doctors. And the most important thing is your health.
Even if you initially think that you're not hurt, you just have minor aches or minor pains. It's imperative that you seek medical treatment for all the reasons that Scott said, because you just never know. We encourage our clients to seek medical treatment because, again, their physical well-being is what's most important. If you have any questions, you need other information. Please give Scott or me a call. We're here to help. We answer our phone and you talk to one of us.
We're here if you need us.
What is PIP / No-Fault Insurance
It is a requirement in Florida for insurers that every person who's driving on the highways has to have. And what it is designed to do is to give you quick compensation, regardless of who's at fault for an accident, things like medical bills and lost wages.
It's put in place by the legislature to ensure that regardless of who's at fault, there is some money available in order to help with certain bills and expenses.
And there are three important things to remember when it comes to no fault PIP insurance, which is insurance that you have with your own insurance company. The first thing is that it will not provide you any benefits or coverage unless you seek medical treatment within 14 days. This is one of the reasons why it's so important to seek medical treatment after an accident as soon as possible. Even if you don't think you're hurt many times, you're more hurt than you initially think.
And the PIP coverage will not provide any benefits to you if you do not seek that medical treatment within 14 days. The second thing to remember is that PIP insurance has limits, so PIP insurance does not cover everything and it is not unlimited in the amount of money that it provides in terms of benefits. No fault PIP insurance in Florida typically covers 80 percent of any medical bills that you have, 60 percent of any lost wages from work that you have and some benefits for certain other financial losses or expenses.
Typically, no fault insurance is limited to ten thousand dollars. And so once that limit is reached, the insurance will no longer pay those medical bills or those lost wages or other expenses. Sometimes it's limited to only twenty five hundred dollars, and that's if it's found that you do not have what's called an emergency medical condition. An emergency medical condition is a health situation after an accident where you need immediate medical care and it's likely to result in a serious long term injury.
The third and final thing to remember is that no fault PIP insurance is not your only way of recovering money after an accident. Oftentimes in car accidents, the injuries and the medical expenses and the lost wages that the victim has suffered goes well beyond what no fault PIP insurance coverage covers. And so it's important that if you've been in an accident that you consult with an experienced law firm or attorney to discuss what your options are. If your injuries and expenses go beyond what PIP covers for you, you can make a claim against the other driver and their insurance company.
And in particular, the most valuable aspect of damages in a car accident case typically is pain and suffering, mental anguish and suffering and other non-economic or intangible damages. PIP does not cover those damages, so the only way you're going to recover those is by making a claim against the other driver and their insurance company.
Well, the reality is no fault insurance, PIP, whatever you want to call it, is complicated. And a lot of times when you're involved in an accident, you don't know what to do, where to turn. You have a lot of questions going on. Give us a call. We've done this for years. We know the law. We know how to navigate the no fault system. And we're only just a phone call away. Give Scott or me a call.
We're here to help.
How do Attorneys Get Paid?
The reality is most personal injury firms like Slater Grant are paid on what's called a contingency fee basis. And what that really means is we don't get paid unless we're able to recover something for you during your case.
And if we get a recovery for you, the way that we get paid and that most personal injury attorneys get paid is by taking a percentage of the amount of money that comes in from your case. So either in a settlement or if the case goes to trial from a jury verdict, the amount of money that comes in, the attorney then takes a percentage of that money as the fee for the attorneys services. Typically the percentage is thirty three and a third percent for any recovery that's made prior to a lawsuit.
And it's 40 percent for any recovery that comes after a lawsuit is filed. But those percentages can vary depending on the circumstances. Regardless, the arrangement with your attorneys should be set out very clearly in the contract between you and your attorney. There are also expenses in case costs that are involved in your personal injury case. Those can include costs for medical records, costs for expert witnesses and investigators, costs for court filing fees and court reporter fees. These are all expenses that typically the attorney who's taking a case on a contingent fee will pay on your behalf.
And you don't have to pay for them unless and until there's a recovery. If there's a recovery in your case, then those costs and expenses that have been paid along the way by your attorney will get deducted from that recovery.
And here at Slater Grant, we handle all of our car accident cases and other personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. If you don't recover, we're unable to recover money for you. We don't get paid. We also advance all costs. And it's the same situation. We don't recover anything for you. We will you will never be charged with those costs. If you ever have any questions about the fee agreement or just questions in general about your case, call either Scott or myself.
One of the things that sets us apart, we think, is that you actually talk with us and we're going to answer all your questions. We want you to understand it's a big decision hiring an attorney and we want you to be comfortable when you leave our office. So if you have any questions, give us a call. We're here to help.
How Can You Determine How Much Your Case is Worth?
Can I calculate what my damages are and what I can recover? If you or a family member has been injured, you may want to know a dollar amount your case is worth or how much you can recover? Unfortunately, the answer is, “it depends”. It depends on a variety of factors.
There's no formula in personal injury cases to determine how much your case is worth. At Slater Grant, we look at your case and evaluate it in a way that breaks it down into two categories. Generally, the first is economic damages and the second is non-economic damages.
Simply put, economic damages are expenses that you've incurred such as medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, or expenses that you yourself have had to pay because of the accident.
Many times we won't know the true number until you've finished treatments or until several months after the accident. Economic damages are the more tangible things that you can touch and feel and see.
The second category is noneconomic damages. Those are things such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience of life, things that you can't touch and see, but that impact you and your family personally.
We look at the reasonable value of both the economic and noneconomic damages and we look how it's impacted you and your life. Then, we try to come up with a reasonable number to present to either the jury or the insurance company depending on the circumstances.
So, in short, there is no formula. An insurance company might look at your case and think it has one value, and a jury might think it has a different value. This underscores the importance of hiring an experienced law firm to represent you in your personal injury case. We have experience with other cases and know what value the insurance companies tend to place on cases with certain facts and circumstances. At Slater Grant, we're prepared to handle your personal injury case and help you assess the value of your case. Give us a call to find out more or to ask questions.
In a Rear End Collision, Is the Rear Driver Always At Fault?
The answer is, “not necessarily”. It is true that in Florida there is a presumption that the rear driver is at fault. That means the law assumes the rear driver is the one at fault and will be blamed for the accident.
But that presumption or assumption can be overcome in a particular case by certain evidence. For example, if the rear end collision was caused by mechanical failure or brake failure, or if the lead driver is actually parked or sitting in the roadway illegally, the courts will take the into consideration. In another example, perhaps the lead driver stopped suddenly or swerved into a lane unexpectedly causing the rear driver to to hit the lead driver.
In any case, many of those extenuating circumstances and facts can lead to the presumption being thrown out. At this point, the jury has to decide who was at fault instead of assuming the rear driver is automatically at fault.
If you're involved in a rear end collision and you've got questions about who is at fault or if you have a claim, consult with an attorney. Sometimes these cases aren't as simple as the presumption that it's the rear driver’s fault. At Slater Grant, we're here to answer those questions. We’ve handled many rear end collision cases, and we're here when you need us.
Do I have a case if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
The short answer is, yes, you do. But there are certain circumstances you need to consider before you decide not to buckle up.
As an aside, we want to take a moment to stress the importance of wearing a seatbelt.
Throughout our practice time and time again, we've seen the tragedy that can result when someone involved in an accident wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The reality is, it only takes a few seconds to click it. We urge you to do that. It saves lives and is very important.
Back to the question: “Do I still have a claim if I'm not wearing my seatbelt and another driver hits me”? Yes, you still have a claim even if you're in an accident and you're not wearing your seatbelt. However, the damages or the compensation that you may be entitled to can be reduced for not wearing a seatbelt.
Because Florida is a comparative fault state, if you go to trial, a jury can assign a percentage of fault to each person in the accident. On one hand, a portion of the percentage may fall on you, and on the other hand, the driver and anyone else involved in the accident would share the remaining percentage of fault.
If you're not wearing your seatbelt, a jury can find that you were ,in part, at fault for causing your injuries and they can assign a percentage of fault that will reduce your recovery.
For example, a jury could find that because you didn't wear your seatbelt, you're 50 percent at fault for causing your injuries. In that case, the award would be reduced by that percentage. So, if you were awarded $100,000 for example, and a jury finds you 50 percent at fault for causing the accident, then your $100,000 recovery would now be reduced to $50,000. So in the end, the most important thing is to wear your seatbelt.
If you find yourself in a situation where you had an accident when you weren't wearing your seatbelt, call an attorney and get some advice. At Slater Grant, we're here to answer those kinds of questions.