Find answers to all of your personal injury FAQs below.
Can I afford a lawyer?
A personal injury attorney usually will only collect a fee if he or she wins you the money to pay for the care you need. That fee will not come out of the money you need to pay your doctor or physical therapist.
In most cases, your case winnings will not only cover your medical and legal expenses, but also include compensation for pain and suffering – and that is yours to keep. You really have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer to represent you, and the lawyer will ensure you don’t make mistakes that could cost you your case. Insurance companies don’t like dealing with lawyers because lawyers know all of their tactics.
Do I need a lawyer for a small car accident?
You may think that a small car accident isn’t worth getting a lawyer involved, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking professional guidance. Even small car crashes can lead to whiplash injury, loss of work, and inability to continue with your everyday activities. But if you speak to an insurance company representative before you consult with a lawyer, they could lead you to make a statement that will harm your case.
Most lawyers will talk to you for free to help you determine whether you can benefit from their services, and give you some free advice on what to say when dealing with insurance companies. Chances are that if you are hurt, hiring a top lawyer can only help your case.
How much will my attorney make off my settlement?
Usually, a personal injury lawyer will take one-third of your final settlement offer as compensation for their work. For example, a settlement of $10,000 would result in a $3,333 payment to your lawyer and $6,667 for you to take home. Lawyers who work on contingency only get paid if they win you money. Your attorney’s fees will never prevent you from paying for your medical bills or other accident-related necessities, and by hiring an attorney you increase your chances of getting a higher settlement offer than you could alone.
What information should I have before I call a lawyer?
You don’t need anything at all before contacting a lawyer.
That said, the more information you have about the Who, What, When, and Where of the accident, the better. How did the accident occur? Who was at fault? Did you see if and how they were distracted? Did they admit it was their fault at the scene? Was it a multi-car collision? Who witnessed the accident? Any information you have on your injuries or the medical attention you’ve received is also helpful.
If the accident was a hit and run (and you’re the one who was hit), you won’t have much more information than the make, model, and license plate number of the car – if you’re lucky. In that case, you may want to consult your insurance company about Uninsured Motorist coverage.
What should I do immediately after my car accident?
1. Immediately after your car accident, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you, and anyone in the car with you, are safe. Of course, if anyone is seriously injured, that takes top priority.
2. Call the police. Florida law prohibits people from leaving the scene of an accident until a full report has been made to the police.
3. Exchange information with the other driver or drivers. Write down the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle make, model and color, as well as the insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved. Get contact information from any witnesses, and make a note of your location and time of the accident.
4. Do not make statements to the other driver about the cause of the accident, but do tell the police.
5. If you are hurt, wait for the paramedics to examine you. If they advise you to go to the hospital, follow their advice.
6. Take pictures of all damages to your car and any others BEFORE moving the cars to the side of the road. Ideally, you should document the accident where it happened.
7. If you are injured or feeling bad at all, go to the ER as soon as possible. This protects you, from a medical and legal perspective, and starts a document trail to prove you were injured.
8. Call the Law Office of Christopher Ligori & Associates for a free consultation on your personal injury case before talking to the at-fault driver’s insurance adjusters – or your own. My law office will be able to tell you what you can expect, and what you should look out for, when dealing with insurance adjusters.
Why is it important to call the police after an accident?
If you don’t report your car accident, you risk your insurance company denying coverage, and you won’t be able to file a claim for damages without a police report. You have to report your car accident to both your insurance company and the police if you want any compensation. Here’s how it works:
You have a legal obligation to report accidents to your insurer under the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy. If you do not report your accident to your insurer, they may deny coverage for your accident.
As for reporting your car accident to the police, accidents involving an injury, death, a hit-and-run, an intoxicated driver, or property damage more than $500 must be reported immediately to law enforcement. You will need an accident report from a police officer in order to file a claim. If you don’t call the police and have them fill out a report documenting the accident and gathering facts, then it’s your word against the other driver’s.
The law requires the police officer called to the scene of the crash to submit a Florida Traffic Crash Report to the police department within 10 days of the investigation being completed. The police have to investigate a crash that results in “any indication of complaints of pain or discomfort by any of the parties or passengers involved in the crash” according to Florida Statutes.
I wasn’t hurt that badly, should I still see a doctor?
Often, accident victims don’t realize how injured they are until a day, or even two or three days, after the accident. But it is essential to seek medical care as soon as possible, both to determine the level of injury, and to strengthen your personal injury case later on. If you wait more than a week to see a doctor, you’ve just told the insurance company that your injury isn’t that bad.
What kind of doctor should I see for my car accident injury?
This is a question I am frequently asked. It is important that you call a law firm like Christopher Ligori & Associates to determine which doctors in your area will treat victims of auto accidents. Most doctors do not treat victims of auto accidents because of two reasons that are not related to the actual practice of medicine. The first reason is purely financial; they are not set up bill PIP or no fault insurance.
Since PIP is primary over all other forms of insurance, if they bill your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and PIP benefits are remaining, then the bill will be rejected and they will not get paid. As we all know most doctors do not work for free. The second reason is that most doctors simply do not want to get involved in the legal process which takes time away from their medical practices. Thus there is a very limited group of medical doctors that treat auto accident victims.
I strongly recommend that anyone who is hurt in an auto accident go to the emergency room immediately. All emergency rooms bill PIP insurance so they will always see you after an auto or motorcycle accident. However, Emergency rooms only determine if you have any emergency medical needs and provide basic medication such as anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxers and minor non addictive pain relievers. It is important to know that most injuries worsen a day or two after an accident and can become unbearable over time, thus the medications and treatment you receive at the emergency room can be of tremendous benefit.
After going to the emergency room, you’ll need follow up care and that MUST mean a facility with a medical doctor on staff who can treat your injuries. A law firm like Christopher Ligori and Associates, who has extensive experience helping victims of auto and motorcycle accidents, will be able to tell you if there is a doctor in your area that will treat you.
Additionally, most of these facilities also have a massage therapist, chiropractors, nurse practitioners and additional medical professionals on staff to help you through the treatment process. If your pain persists, most doctors will request for you to have an MRI to further evaluate the type of injury you have and determine your treatment needs.
If you have injuries such as knee, wrist, hip, ankle or other types of injuries besides neck and back injuries, I strongly recommend you follow up with an orthopedic doctor. Again you will need a doctor that will treat auto or motorcycle accident victims and I strongly suggest you call Christopher Ligori & Associates to find out if there are any orthopedic doctors in your area that will treat you.
If your neck or back symptoms persist you may be referred to a neurologist, neurosurgeon or orthopedic spinal surgeon for a consultation and you can check with Christopher Ligori and Associates to see if there are any such specialists in your area who treat accident victims.
In summary, be sure to go to the emergency room after a car accident even if your pain is not significant because it will increase over time. Next, you should follow up with a facility that has a medical doctor on staff to treat your injuries and not just chiropractic or massage therapist’s office. While massage therapists and chiropractors are an important part of the treatment process, you need a medical doctor directing and coordinating your treatment.
If you have any further questions regarding if there are any doctors in your area that will treat you for your auto or motorcycle accident, the kind of doctor you should see or what you should expect from a medical professional in regards to your injuries, please contact Christopher Ligori and Associates 24/7 at our Tampa office (813) 223-2929 or the Pinellas number (727) 862-2929 or our toll free line (877) 444-2929.
Does the amount of property damage to your car matter in your injury case?
According to medical documentation provided by neurologists and orthopedists, there is no direct correlation between the amount of property damage in an accident and the type and severity of injuries received. Everyone has a different injury tolerance, and it is very common for two people who experience the same accident to have different injuries. That is because everyone — biologically speaking — is built differently. Some people may have a genetic tendency to be more 85618612.thb_predisposed to certain types of injuries. For example, women tend sustain different types of injuries than men.
Also, the fitness level of an individual can have a lot to do with the type and severity of injury received in an accident. As such, factors like wear and tear on the body and the actual individual’s injury tolerance, which is genetic, bears no relationship to the amount of property damage in an auto case.
However, you need to be aware that jurors in a court case may be of the opinion that in order for a person to be injured in a crash, there must be substantial, visible property damage to the vehicles involved. This could not be further from the truth because many cars are designed to hide property damage to the vehicles. This should not be construed to mean that car manufacturers don’t want people to know the extent of actual damage to their vehicles, but rather that the manufacturers make cars with plastic bumper covers and things of that nature that can easily be replaced if the damage to the vehicle is minimal.
In this way, automakers attempt to save people money by making their cars so that minor damage can be repaired simply and easily. For example, not having to have an entire bumper replaced if someone accidentally backed up into a pole or hit their child’s basketball net when backing out of their driveway.
What is PIP Insurance Coverage?
In 1972, Florida passed a law requiring all persons who have insurance to purchase Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP coverage). This ensures that people injured in an auto accident will have at least $10,000 in insurance coverage, whether or not they have health insurance. PIP is classified as finite insurance. In other words, it ends after the $10,000 benefit is paid. Additionally, PIP is primary over all other types of insurance, including private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or Worker’s Compensation. What this means is that PIP must be used before any other type of health care benefit provider is obligated to pay a bill.
There are a limited number of facilities that accept PIP for the treatment of auto accident victims. This is because most primary care doctors are not set up to bill PIP. Therefore, it is crucial to find a provider that accepts PIP and, most importantly, can provide top-quality medical care.
I’ve already accepted a settlement from the insurance company, but I’ve since had more medical bills. What can I do?
Unfortunately, if you have already signed a release form with the insurance company, you’ve lost the ability to pursue legal action against either the at-fault driver or their insurance carrier. However, there’s a possibility of getting further compensation if you can prove that the insurance company probably knew your injuries would require more treatment than you initially received. Ask a lawyer about “bad faith” settlement lawsuits.
Of course, the best possible scenario is to avoid this situation altogether, which you can do by not signing the release form until you have absolute medical clearance from your doctor that you are finished with treatment. Your settlement offer should include financial provisions for any follow-up care you’ll need in the future, as prescribed by a doctor.
How long does it take to settle my case so I can catch up on my bills?
The length of time for settling a case depends on many factors and no lawyer can make guarantees on either the outcome, or the timeline for that outcome. Some of the factors are how serious the accident was, how badly you were injured, how much medical treatment you require, and which insurance company represents the at-fault driver. They’re all tough to deal with, but some are worse than others!
Let’s say the other driver is clearly at fault in a rear-end auto accident. Maybe you suffered a soft tissue strain sprain and required an X-ray to assess the damage, and a couple months of physical therapy to help heal. Even in a very basic case like that can take between five to eight months to settle. It can be a long process, depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, to make sure you receive fair compensation.
Can I negotiate my own personal injury claim? And if so, where do I start?
You can negotiate your own personal injury claim; there’s no law that says you have to hire a lawyer. But first, know that hiring a lawyer to defend your best interests won’t cost you anything out of pocket, and will save you a ton of time and aggravation.
Lawyers in the state of Florida are paid by receiving a percent of the money they are able to bring in on a case. Additionally, the lawyers will front the cost of the case until they are reimbursed from the recovery. If you choose to pursue with your own case you will be responsible for the initial cost which would likely cost you more money than hiring an attorney.
Insurance companies are aware that individuals do not have the training or the legal skill necessary to file a lawsuit and try a case to a successful conclusion and as a result will offer a significantly lower amount of money to someone trying to negotiate their own claim. I have personally handled cases that were worth $60,000 to $100,000 that individual’s settled for only $500 to $1000 on their own.
Without the legal skill and training you may not accurately understanding the value of your case which is why it is best to hire a lawyer to handle your case or claim. If you still want to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company yourself, start by reading all the articles on this blog – we have great advice about insurance adjuster tactics and what documentation you need to prove your case.
Can my personal injury lawyer handle my property damage also?
Personal injury lawyers usually only handle the parts of your case that deal with your injury from the accident: your medical care, tests, and loss of wages resulting from your injury. A personal injury case or claim only deals with injuries to your body, mind, or emotions – not your property. Many personal injury lawyers do not handle property damage claims unless the person has been injured as well. If only your vehicle was damaged in the accident, you don’t have a personal injury case, and should consider dealing directly with your insurance company and the other person’s insurance company. But be prepared to document your property damage carefully – take photos immediately following the accident. Let the insurance companies know that you have property damage and itemize it for them as soon as possible
What can I do if my car is totaled?
Most people whose cars are totaled will lose money. Cars are depreciating assets, which means they lose value continuously from the moment of purchase until the time of the accident.
One of the things that you can do to maximize the value of your totaled vehicle is to research it online at www.kellybluebook.com to determine its true market value. It is important for vehicle owners to input the vehicle information since you are the best person to assess the previous condition of the car, its mileage, the condition of the interior and any additions made to the vehicle to enhance its value. Once this information has been entered, the site will provide a range estimating the value for your vehicle.
How can I get a replacement car after my auto accident?
Either your insurance, or the at-fault driver’s insurance, should be prepared to cover the cost of a rental vehicle until your property damage claim is settled. Make sure you ask exactly how long you have the rental car and when it needs to be returned so you don’t accidentally incur overtime costs. Often, you’ll have the car for a few days after you receive your settlement to give you time to buy a replacement vehicle.
Can I get a rental car?
In most cases, yes, since rental coverage is provided by the at-fault party’s insurance; however, the extent of that coverage will depend on the type and quality of that coverage. Most insurance policies will allow you a rental car for 10 to 30 days depending on whether your car is totaled or has repairable damage.
Your own car insurance may also provide for rental car coverage but this depends on the policy and specific coverage purchased. We will be happy to review your policy with you to determine if this is included in your coverage.
Who pays for my property damage?
Your personal injury attorney should always be willing to help with your property damage claim, but many clients handle most of it themselves. That said, here what you should know about your property damage.
Warning: Property damage adjusters work for insurance companies alone – so NEVER discuss your injuries with them and NEVER meet them in person.
If the accident was not your fault, you can make a claim through your own insurance company to cover the cost of repairs on your car, or reimbursement for a totaled vehicle. Many times your insurance will require you to pay a deductible. Then, your insurance will request reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance. You can also choose to deal directly with the other person’s insurance company to reimburse you for your repairs or loss, but it might be easier on you to let your adjuster deal with their adjuster.
What If there is much more damage to the vehicle that caused the accident than to your own car? How can that affect your case?
Some jurors in accident cases believe in the myth that property damage equals injury. This means that jurors likely will believe that unless your vehicle sustained substantial property damage, you were not injured. Ironically, this commonly-held belief is refuted entirely by the body of medical and scientific evidence that has been developed over years regarding accidents and injuries.
For example, in a rear end collision where a car “rear ends” a truck that has a trailer hitch, often most of the property damage will be on the car that rear ended the truck. This is why it is so important in these types of cases that your attorney promptly hires an expert to examine your vehicle to collect evidence that can be used to explain to the jury why one car has much more property damage the other.
Recently, our firm worked on a case where there was over $4,000 in property damage to the car that rear ended our client’s truck. However, there was only $500-$600 in property damage to our client’s truck, which had a trailer hitch. Because the car rear ended our client’s truck right on the trailer hitch, and that trailer hitch is attached to the frame of the vehicle, damage was far less to the truck than to the car who struck the truck.
Should I contact the other driver’s insurance company first?
No – Call the Law Offices of Christopher Ligori & Associates first! Seriously, contact an attorney before speaking to any insurance company, even your own.
Our attorneys will be happy to talk with you over the phone to determine whether you have a personal injury case. If you don’t have a personal injury case, you’ll at least come away from the consultation with some good tips for what to do next. And if you do have a case (if you’re hurting, you probably do), our lawyers will instruct you on the next steps you need to take to ensure you’re compensated fairly.
The danger here is that insurance adjusters are trained to lead you into making statements that could damage your case. Something as simple as the adjuster asking “How are you feeling?” might lead you to a knee-jerk response of “Oh, I’m fine” – which they can later use against you to indicate that you weren’t really injured, or not injured as badly as you claim. Some adjusters even try to get accident victims to sign releases settling the case for very low amounts, like $100 or $200.
Keep in mind that sometimes you may not realize the true extent of your injuries for hours after an accident. Adrenaline is a powerful thing and can mask symptoms in the short term. Always be on the safe side and see a doctor right away.
Should I meet the at-fault person’s insurance adjuster when they examine my car for property damage?
No. Under no circumstances should you be with the property damage adjuster when they take pictures of your vehicle. It is important to remember that these insurance adjusters work for the other side. They are not there to help you. They are trying to pay as little as possible for both property damage and bodily injury.
It is not uncommon for them to play tricks, such as asking you to retrieve information from your car’s glove compartment in order to photograph you bending over into the car. This can be used later against you during the injury case.
We strongly advise that you have a family friend or other relative there when the adjuster examines the vehicle. It is also important that no one talk to the adjuster or reveal details about the accident or injuries sustained.
What will insurance pay for in lost wages after a car accident?
Florida requires every driver to have $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection so that if you are in an accident, your own insurance will cover PIP benefits no matter who was at fault. Under PIP, you’re entitled to 60 percent of your lost wages, up to $10,000. The good news is that even if you have sick leave, you can still be compensated for lost wages after your boss fills out the Wage and Salary Verification Form.
The bad news: Since your entire PIP is $10,000, and you probably need much of that to pay for immediate medical care, you typically do not get to keep all of the $10,000 unless your attorney reserves all of it for lost wages and not medical bills. Also, if you receive medical treatment on a lien – meaning you’ve agreed that the doctors will get paid out of your settlement – they will receive compensation before you get money for lost wages.
Another complication is that some drivers choose not to have PIP protection for lost wages. It makes your insurance cheaper in the short-run, but you sign away your eligibility for lost wages compensation in the event of injury.
How often should I contact the insurance adjuster to follow up with my car accident case?
First, and most importantly, you should not discuss any specific facts of your case with an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters are trained and hired to save their companies money by paying as little as possible on your case; thus they are not working in your best interest.
It is best that you hire a lawyer to communicate with the insurance companies especially in regards to your injuries. However, you may have minimal contact regarding the property damage of your vehicle from the accident. In doing so be careful not to say anything about your injuries and especially not to meet the adjuster physically at any time.
Some adjusters will attempt to trick you by asking you to take something out of the trunk or glove box while they photograph you trying to make it seem as though you are not injured. While a photograph will show you leaning into the car, it will not show that you are in pain at the time thus the insurance company will now have evidence against you that can be used later on in the case or claim.
Can I do anything to make the property damage claims adjuster work faster?
It is difficult to get the insurance adjuster to work more quickly however sometimes the squeaky wheel does get the oil. It is not always necessary or better to be liked then to be respected; thus if the adjuster is dragging his feet you can be firm about hurrying up so you can receive compensation for your property damage.
However, you should note that an insurance adjuster can actually work slower on your claim if you are rude or if they feel they are being conned thus it is always best to act professionally but firmly. Also, be cautious what you say to the adjuster and be sure to not mention anything about your injuries as this information can be used against you in your claim.
What are the different types of auto insurance coverage and how do they help me?
Some of the most common types of auto insurance coverages are:
• Liability – This provides coverage for all sums the insured is legally obligated to pay due to an
• Bodily Injury (BI) – Bodily Injury provides coverage for death or serious and permanent injury to
others when you are legally liable for an accident involving your automobile.
• Medical Pay (Med Pay) – This covers medical treatment for the insured
or resident family member resulting from an auto accident, regardless of fault, as
well as any person occupying the covered auto.
• Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – PIP provides coverage for medical benefits, lost
wages and funeral benefits for the insured or resident family member when injured in
his or her vehicle, in someone else’s vehicle, or as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
• Property Damage (PD) – This offers protection in the event that negligent acts or omissions of
an insured person result in damage or destruction of another’s property.
• Uninsured Motorist (UM) – This is coverage provided to the insured, resident family
members and any other person occupying the covered automobile for bodily
injury resulting from an accident involving an uninsured or under-insured driver.
Who is at fault in a rear end car accident?
While this appears to be a very simple, straightforward question, it often is not. Let’s address the simple answer first: If you are hit from behind while driving down the road, it is usually the other driver who is at fault. But the real issue here is who was negligent in their driving. Negligence is the basis for most car accident claims, and the negligent person is responsible to compensate for any damage or injury caused by their failure to drive responsibly.
Rear end accidents are almost always due to the driver tailgating, driving too fast, or driving while distracted – all cases of negligence. However, in a very few circumstances, the other driver may be at fault. For more information regarding these types of cases, call Ligori & Associates and we will be happy to help.
How long can it take to resolve my car accident?
For your case, the sooner you hire Christopher N. Ligori & Associates to start the claims process, the better. In order to get a fair settlement offer, you have to be very organized with your documentation, and it’s too easy for early documents to get lost over time. Your memories of the facts of the accident are the most clear directly after it happens, and your account of events is vital to your case. Your lawyer should collect all the necessary documents for your claim.
This can be very confusing and time consuming which is why the best action you can take is to call our office at 877-444-2929 to let us do the work for you.
If the injured person treats with good and honest doctors the case can take 6-8 months on average, however if the insurance company wants to take the case to litigation, the case can take much longer.