- Do I need an Attorney?
- What Should I Bring to the Initial Consultation?
- What should I not do after an Accident?
- How much is my case worth?
- What is contingency? How do you get paid and how much?
- How long will it take to bring my case to a conclusion?
- Will there be a jury trial or a settlement out of court?
- What is a deposition?
- What is a statute of limitations?
- What is mediation?
- Why won’t an attorney take my case?
- What does a “letter of protection” mean in my case?
- I have full insurance coverage. Why am I not covered?
- What are MMI and a permanent impairment rating?
- Why do we have to set up an estate or guardianship?
- How long will a lawsuit for PIP (no-fault benefits) against my insurance company take?
- The insurance company keeps asking me for more information. Should I give it to them?
- If I cannot find a copy of my insurance policy, how can I get one?
- If I slip and fall at a business, is the owner of the business or other premises legally responsible for injuries sustained?
1. Do I need an Attorney?
You deserve to be adequately compensated for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other recoverable damages. But mistakes or delays in the investigation, preparation or handling of your case may be detrimental to your case, decreasing your recovery or, even worse, causing you to lose your case entirely. Time is of the essence.
Additionally, in my experience as a claims adjuster with State Farm Insurance for over 10 years, settlements paid to accident victims are usually higher when they are represented by competent counsel than settlements paid to claimants, who are not represented by counsel. A recent insurance company’s report stated that settlements paid to individuals who are represented by counsel are generally “three times” that which is paid to individuals not represented by counsel.
Lately, because of political insurance issues, and the current government stance on tort reform, even in cases where liability is clear and undisputed, insurance companies are denying claims and individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to resolve even their property damage claims and are having difficult times just getting their medical bills paid by insurance companies. This “ hard ball” claims
2. What Should I Bring to the Initial Consultation?
You should bring all records associated with your case that are in your possession, including medical records, doctor’s name and phone numbers, police reports, incident reports, medical bills, photographs, estimate of damage to your car, photo ID, and any other documentation related to your accident.
3. What should I not do after an Accident?
Do not move your vehicle after an automobile accident unless it is necessary for safety reasons or if required by law.
Do not leave the scene of an accident until the police inform you that you can leave
Do not throw away any potential evidence in the case.
Do not engage in conversations at the scene as to who is at fault or how the accident occurred. Only speak to the police officer about the facts of the accident.
Do not apologize or admit fault for the accident at the scene or anytime afterwards without consulting the Law Offices of Carlos J. Jimenez, P.L.
Do not agree to settlement terms or sign a release without contacting the law Offices of Carlos J. Jimenez, P.L.
The adjuster for the other driver insurance keeps calling me at home, should I speak to him? Don’t talk to an adjuster until you speak an Attorney at our firm. Keep in mind the adjuster works for the other driver’s insurance company. Their job is to pay you no money at all or as little as possible, and to find as many “holes” in your claim as possible. Do not give a statement without the presence of your lawyer.
4. How much is my case worth?
The answer depends on how severe your injuries are, who caused the accident, how much insurance coverage is available and how strongly the evidence is in your favor. The value of a case may range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to several million dollars.
The value of a case is based on actual damages, which include:
Past medical bills
Future medical bills
Past lost wages
Future lost wages (loss of earning capacity)
Pain and suffering
5. What is contingency? How do you get paid and how much?
Contingency means that we are paid only if we win or settle your case. You pay no consultation fess, up-front fees or ongoing legal costs. Once we win or settle your case, our fees are from 1/3 to 40%, depending if the case is won or settled in litigation or prior to litigation, of the gross recovery amount. If we are unable to win or settle your case, then there is no fee to you and we absorb all costs.
6. How long will it take to bring my case to a conclusion?
It depends on how complex your case is. We want to win a maximum award for you and resolve the case as soon as we are in position to do so. We must have a thorough understanding of all the damages you can claim, including future medical bills and future loss of earning capacity. If you are still under the care of a physician, or have unknown future medical expenses, we may not be in a position to settle your case. Usually, you must first be released from care and we must determine your future medical expenses prior to settling your case. Typically, auto accident cases are settled within 4-6 months while medical malpractice, and nursing home cases last 1-2 years or longer. Most other cases fall in between these approximate time frames.
7. Will there be a jury trial or a settlement out of court?
Most cases are settled out of court because the defendant realizes they cannot win in court or may not wish to incur the costs of a legal defense in court. We always strive to maximize our clients’ settlements and/or awards. We review all settlement offers with you prior to accepting or rejecting them. We will give your our honest, legal opinion as to whether to accept or reject an offer and whether or not to file a lawsuit. But you have the final decision on whether to settle or reject the offer(s).
8. What is a deposition?
A deposition is a form of discovery where a statement given under oath before a Court Reporter. This is usually done in a lawyer’s office where the witness answers questions given by the attorneys representing both parties to the case. The reporter makes a written transcript of everything said at the deposition and the witness signs the transcript swearing it is an accurate rendition of the evidence he /she gave. The deposition is similar to the giving of oral testimony in a trial, but takes place under less formal circumstances and in advance of a trial. The deposition may later be used in trial to question the witnesses’ credibility. Therefore, it is important for your Attorney to prepare you for your deposition.
9. What is a statute of limitations?
It’s an established legal deadline that requires a person who has suffered an injury to file a lawsuit within a certain time after the date of injury or forever lose his or her rights to sue for damages. Exceptions do apply from state to state. Statute of limitations can range from several months to several years depending on the state and the type of case.
10. What is mediation?
Mediation is a conference in which both sides attempt to come to a settlement prior to a case proceeding to trial. Each side appears with their lawyer before a mediator, who is often a retired judge or lawyer. The mediator is not affiliated with any parts and is there to bring about communication between the parties and facilitate a settlement. Both sides present their case to the mediator. All the information in the mediation is confidential and cannot be used in the trial. If the parties are not able to settle the case through mediation, then the case proceeds eventually to trial.
11. Why won’t an attorney take my case?
If it appears that the evidence is weak, the case is likely not to be successful, or that the damages are small, any Attorney may not undertake representation. The best way to determine this is to meet with us and discuss your situation in full detail. We can then determine what your options are and offer to provide representation if appropriate. Of course, the consultation with the Law Offices of Carlos J Jimenez, P.L. is free. There is no cost or obligation for this review of your potential case.
12. What does a “letter of protection” mean in my case?
In some instances a person does not have insurance coverage or their PIP benefits are exhausted, and they still need medical treatment. In that situation many physicians and medical facilities are willing to accept a “letter of protection”. This means they will continue to treat the patient without immediate payment at the time of treatment. Once the liability case is settled, they will be reimbursed. However, even with a “letter of protection” in their medical file, the patient is ultimately responsible for the medical costs even if they do not settle or win the case. Once the case is settled, the Law Offices of Carlos J Jimenez, PL will negotiate most of your outstanding medical bills for a lower amount.
13. I have full insurance coverage. Why am I not covered?
Typically, we are asked this question when a client discovers that their “full coverage” automobile insurance is less than they thought. “Full coverage”, is a misnomer and does not necessary mean you have every coverage available. Check with your insurance agent or company to be sure that you have coverage for recovery of injuries, PIP, medical payments benefits and underinsured/ motorist coverage.
14. What are MMI and a permanent impairment rating?
MMI is an acronym for “maximum medical improvement”. It means that you have recovered as far as medically possible, even though you may not be as good physically as you were before your accident. A permanent impairment rating may be requested by your insurance company and provided by your doctor to define your final condition. The impairment relates to the injuries you sustained from the incident and how you are still limited physically.
15. Why do we have to set up an estate or guardianship?
The law requires that a legal entity exist before a lawsuit can be pursued. In the case of a deceased person this requires the appointment of a personal representative of the estate of the deceased individual by the appropriate probate court.
16. How long will a lawsuit for PIP (no-fault benefits) against my insurance company take?
The time involved varies widely from case to case. Very often, the insurance company offer to pay the benefits owed shortly after they received the lawsuit. Other times, they hire an attorney to defend them, which usually results in delays as the case proceeds through the litigation process. A lawsuit of this type can take anywhere from a few months to several years to resolve. We try to obtain a trial date within 6 to 12 months of the date that the suit is filed.
17. The insurance company keeps asking me for more information. Should I give it to them?
Yes. Most insurance policies contain a cooperation clause. This simply means that you must comply with all reasonable requests made by your insurance company. These requests can include producing your car for inspection, assisting with securing information regarding the claim, and giving a recorded statement. A recorded statement should only be given to an insurance company representative in the presence of your Attorney.
18. If cannot find a copy of my insurance policy, how can I get one?
Yes. If you cannot locate your copy of your policy, we can obtain one from the insurance company. If you were never provided a copy of the policy, please let us know, as this is relevant in determining what defenses an insurance company may be able to assert in litigation.
19. If I slip and fall at a business, is the owner of the business or other premises legally responsible for injuries sustained?
Usually, it is the duty of an owner to exercise reasonable care in maintaining the premises and to warn a visitor of any dangerous conditions that are known. For example, if an owner, or his employees, knows that there has been a liquid spill within their business, then they must act reasonable to clean up the liquid and to prevent customers/visitors from walking through the spill and falling.
It is the responsibility of the Law Offices of South Florida personal injury lawyer Carlos J. Jimenez, P.L. to gather the important evidence and facts so as to know the applicable legal principles. This will help us determine if the owner of the establishment can be held liable for the injuries caused in a slip and fall. It is often a difficult process because most of the evidence and testimony must come from the owner and his employees. Therefore, it is important to obtain the name, phone numbers and addresses of all independent witnesses to the fall.