Winning a car accident claim can be tricky, especially when you are filing a claim against a stubborn insurance company that will be on the hook for a large sum if your claim succeeds. That doesn’t bother us here at Payer Personal Injury Lawyers. We have been winning car accident claims on behalf of our Orlando, FL, clients for decades now.
For decades, Payer Personal Injury Lawyers has been changing the lives of its clients by demanding and receiving generous settlements for car accident victims. To date, we’ve recovered over $100 million for our clients.
Call an Orlando car accident attorney at (407) 648-1510 to get started with a completely free consultation. Until then, read on for the answers to some of the most common FAQs about car accidents in the area.
How Can Payer Personal Injury Lawyers Help if I’ve Been Hurt in an Orlando Car Accident?
Here are just a few of the ways that our car accident lawyers can help you after a crash in Orlando, Florida:
- We can conduct an in-depth investigation of your car accident claim;
- We can listen to your story, answer your questions, and explain your options;
- We can gather admissible evidence for your claim, including medical records;
- We can take over negotiations with the insurance company (although you must still approve any settlement);
- We can advise you against mistakes you might make, such as talking about your case on social media, that might damage your claim;
- We can draft and file a complaint, should it become necessary to file a lawsuit; and
- We can draft a final settlement agreement.
Nobody can turn back time and undo your accident. The Orlando legal system can, however, compensate you as far as money is able to accomplish this purpose.
The trick is to successfully navigate the system either in court or (preferably) at the negotiating table.
That’s okay, however, because navigating the system and preparing difficult-to-refute cases is what we do every day.
Do I need to hire a lawyer for my car accident claim?
Although you can represent yourself, it’s not a very good idea unless the size of your claim is very small. An attorney can provide expertise and increase your chances of receiving fair compensation. Remember–it’s not just about winning–it’s about how much you win. A lawyer can probably get you more money.
Will my lawyer charge me based on billable hours?
No. Almost all personal injury attorneys charge legal fees as a percentage of the amount of money that they managed to win for you. If they don’t win any money for you, you won’t owe them anything in attorney’s fees, and they will have worked for free.
Because of the way this contingency fee system works, a lawyer’s purpose in offering you a free initial consultation is to determine whether representing you would be worth the risk.
How does PIP insurance work?
PIP insurance belongs to you, not the at-fault driver. In the event of an injury accident, you file a claim against your own PIP insurance, not the other driver’s liability insurance policy. Normally, you cannot file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. However, there are exceptions if your losses exceed your policy limits or if you sustain a “serious injury” as defined by state law.
Does PIP insurance pay non-economic damages?
No, PIP pays only economic damages–80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost earnings. If you want non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, you must be eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In that event, you can seek non-economic damages as well as full economic damages (which include but are not limited to medical expenses and lost earnings).
What constitutes a “serious” injury under Florida personal injury law?
Florida law defines a very specific threshold that you must meet to qualify your injuries as “serious” and thereby exit Florida’s no-fault system. Your injury must result in:
- Significant permanent loss of a bodily function;
- Permanent injury (to a reasonable degree of medical probability);
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
PIP insurance offers your family very limited death benefits if you die from a car accident.
How does causation work in a car accident lawsuit?
You can break “causation” down into two different forms of cause:
- The at-fault party’s behavior must have been the “cause in fact” of your injuries—the accident would not have happened but for their behavior.
- The at-fault party’s behavior was the “proximate cause” of your injuries, in the sense that a reasonable person could have foreseen the likelihood that the at-fault party’s behavior would cause the accident that resulted in your injuries.
You must prove both cause in fact and proximate cause to win your claim.
Do I have to go to trial if I file a personal injury claim?
No. In fact, very few personal injury claims end up at trial. Since you can withdraw a lawsuit any time before the verdict, most lawsuits don’t result in a trial. The threat of a trial is often enough to convince a stubborn opposing party to settle on reasonable terms. Filing a lawsuit will also beat the statute of limitations deadline, no matter how long it takes to resolve your claim.
Can I seek compensation for pain and suffering?
Yes, in most cases in which you can file a claim against the other driver. Calculation methods can vary, but they often take into account the severity of the injury, the amount of medical treatment required, and the long-term implications of the injury. Pain and suffering damages often amount to more than half the total value of a personal injury claim.
Can I add lost earnings to my compensation claim?
Yes, you can, as long as you can prove them. This applies whether you are an employee or you are self-employed. If you suffer from long-term injury, you can even claim compensation for future diminished earning capacity. Diminished earning capacity damages can be immense if you are injured at a young age.
Can I win punitive damages?
Florida courts allow punitive damages if you can show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted with intentional misconduct or gross negligence. Even with this higher standard of proof, courts usually do not allow punitive damages, even for otherwise victorious claimants.
If you win punitive damages, however, you receive them in addition to the economic and non-economic damages listed above.
Should I accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company?
No, because it will be far too low. Insurance companies have a policy of issuing ‘lowball’ first offers. Talk to your lawyer before you accept any settlement offer.
What is maximum medical improvement (MMI) and why does it matter?
Maximum medical improvement, or MMI, is the point in time, certified by your doctor, at which doctors expect no further improvement in your condition. You might reach MMI fully recovered from your injuries, or you might suffer from permanent disability
The main benefit of reaching MMI before you file your claim is that it greatly assists you in calculating your medical expenses and lost earnings. After all, for most people who reach MMI, all of these losses are past losses, with no need to speculate.
How does mediation work?
In mediation, you add a neutral third-party mediator to your negotiations to help you hammer out a settlement agreement. A mediator cannot force either side to settle or impose a resolution to the case. Judges tend to look favorably upon mediation, however, because settlements reduce the court’s workload.
Can I sue the at-fault party’s employer?
Normally, you can sue an employer for the on-duty wrongful acts of their employee, even if the employer was not at fault. If, however, the “employee” is actually an independent contractor rather than an actual employee, you cannot sue the employer.
Common examples of independent contractors include:
- Most commercial truck drivers;
- Most doctors who work for hospitals; and
Even if the defendant hired an independent contractor, however, you can still sue them for negligent hiring if the facts warrant it.
Contact Our Orlando Car Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation Today
We win almost all of our clients’ claims. This gives us the flexibility to bill you on a conditional basis – if we don’t win your claim, you won’t be receiving a bill in attorney’s fees from us. We don’t mean we will issue a refund. We mean that you will never pay us anything in the first place. Contact our experienced Orlando car accident attorneys today online or by calling (866) 930-1238.