Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Personal Injury Cases
There are many frequently asked questions relating to personal injury claims and how you should conduct yourself with your personal injury lawyers, the courts, your insurance company and your friends and family. Below are summarized some of the more important things you should consider in these matters. This is only a brief summary of what is necessary – as your legal counsel we will guide you through these and all other matters related to your case.
Please note that this FAQ section is NOT legal advice but instead is being
offered for informational and/or educational purposes only.
While the shock following an accident may be abated by talking, do not speak to ANYONE about your accident. Tempting as it is, do not talk to your friends, family, or co-workers about you case, no matter how careful you are about what you say. Even your own insurance company or any lawyers hired by your insurance company are off-limits without notifying us first. The only exception is one of the attorneys, agents or investigators from Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A., and then you must ask for identification. You just never know who will use your words against you – even an instinctive “sorry” can be construed as an admission of guilt. Call Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. and one of our attorneys will represent or advise you
If you are arrested in connection with an accident, stay calm and do NOT plead guilty to any traffic offense without discussing same with benefit of criminal legal counsel. The same applies in the event of a coroner’s inquest or other type of hearing. Notify us as soon as you are contacted in connection with this inquest.
If you know of, or learn of any witnesses, obtain their full name, correct address, and telephone numbers immediately. Then pass that information onto your Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. attorney.
Yes. Not only is it better to be safe than sorry from a physical point of view, but Florida law requires that you be checked out within 14 days. If you don’t, you could be waiving valuable rights under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. You can go to an emergency room, an urgent care center, a D.O., or M.D.. Ensure that your medical chart is complete by telling them every single complaint you have to the treating doctor from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Now is not the time to be stoic or ‘macho’. If you seek medical treatment for conditions other than this accident, inform the doctors of the accident and your current condition because of the accident so the medical professional can distinguish between the two. Advise your Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. legal team of the names and addresses of all doctors you see initially and as a follow up.
Florida law requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on their insurance policy. It covers 80% of any adjusted medical expenses (pursuant to a fee schedule) related to injuries sustained in the accident up to $10,000, leaving the balance of the bill your responsibility. To claim these out-of-pocket expenses as damages against the at-fault party, you must keep accurate records of all your medical expenses – from medical, hospital, and drug bills to the hiring of extra help, taxi fare and parking. Get receipts and keep duplicate copies of everything.
The law moves more slowly than we would like. To accurately recall your pain and difficulties months after the time, keep a daily or weekly record of your complaints and progress. Note how long bruises last and the progress of healing wounds and other complaints. List the activities that you now cannot do such as walking up steps, sitting in one position too long, how are you sleeping, etc.
Yes. Photographic evidence pertaining to your case is vital. If you are unable to take a photo yourself, have your friends or family do so. Photograph hospital treatments and physical therapy as well as anything that changes over time, e.g. bruises or healing wounds. Send Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. the negatives and prints or email us the digital photographs.
No. Although you may want to celebrate the end of your time in a cast, brace, collar, traction, or other device, save it. When the case is set for trial, you should bring these items with you. These are pieces of evidence that may help your case.
Medical professionals will not wait for payment until after your case is settled. Have your own auto insurance carrier pay as many hospital and doctor bills under the medical payment provisions of your policy as possible. Typically, in Florida, those would be paid by your mandatory No Fault benefits called Personal Injury Protection (a/k/a PIP). You may have also elected to buy optional Medical Payment coverage (MedPay) from your own company that would cover the 20% typically not covered and 100% up to the amount of your coverage purchased. You must exhaust these benefits before you can have health insurance kick in. Thereafter, typically, you can have your hospitalization insurance, such as Blue Cross & Blue Shield, pay as much on your bills as possible. Thereafter, you can pay the shortfall balances as soon as possible to avoid credit issues. Otherwise, you also sometimes have the option to have your attorney write a letter of protection or a lien against your potential settlement or award. Initially, discuss with your Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. attorney whether your copayments can be a component of the car accident settlement agreement.
Simply, yes. If your car accident injuries have caused you to lose income – wages while you recover or a prevailing disability that thwarts your ability to earn in the future – you will need to substantiate your claim with appropriate documentation. So long as you have PIP benefits in Florida, such can also be used to pay 60% of lost wages with the remaining 40% being the responsibility of the at fault party(ies). Once PIP is exhausted, 100% of the lost wages would be a claim against the at-fault party(ies). Start by keeping a precise record of all days lost from work as a result of your injuries.
Because the state of Florida makes it mandatory for every insured driver carry at least $10,000 in Property Damage Liability Coverage (PD), you have the option of a damage claim against the other party’s PD. Or you may claim from your collision coverage insurer to repair your car quickly if you maintained such. They would then go after the vehicle that was at fault to try to recoup their money through a process called subrogation where in exchange for them paying for your collision damage, you assign your property damage rights to your own insurance company. Either way, first take detailed photos of the damage to your automobile – various angles of the windshield, steering wheel, seat tracks, whatever is damaged – and submit them to your Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. attorney before you have the vehicle repaired.
While we would always welcome a new client to our office, we are not always available. Therefore, it is advisable to make an appointment, because the attorneys have hearings, depositions, and trials to attend. Rather make an appointment to speak with an attorney. Be sure to keep us advised of any changes in your address or telephone number.
After being retained, we will probably not contact you until we have something definite to report. We will be contacting you for missing information needed, questions we may have, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and then, when your case goes to trial, which may be more than one year from the time that suit is filed. Please let us know if you change your address, telephone number, or e-mail address, the name and address of your employer, or occupation. Providing an alternative contact is helpful should you move or go on an extended vacation.
As much as we would also like to resolve your case as quickly as possible, doing so properly can take a long time. When it comes to personal injury claims and lawsuits, try to be patient. If the insurance company knows you are too anxious to settle, the settlement value can go down.
Do not file claims for insurance benefits without letting us review the claim forms to make sure there is no damaging statement made that may unknowingly affect your claim. Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. will make no additional charge for reviewing your medical insurance claim forms, your personal injury protection forms (PIP), and any other forms. We will assist you in every way regarding submitting them.
After a claim is filed, the insurance carrier or other party may hire an investigator to look for any information that can be used against your case. Sometimes they believe that their investment to hire an investigator may yield valuable results that result in a lower value for your case (i.e.-catching you doing something you say cannot or should not be doing). Not only will your claims history be investigated, and back-ground and credit checks performed, but you may be followed, filmed, and recorded without your knowledge. For these reasons, it is imperative that you strictly follow doctors’ orders and avoid any activities that would otherwise be construed as contrary to the injuries claimed.
When it comes to your lawyer, absolutely! Tell your Sokoloff & Weinstein, P.A. attorney EVERYTHING. Even if you think it may be unimportant, tell your lawyer. If you hurt your back ten years ago, tell your lawyer now. If you were convicted of a crime many years ago and have been a model citizen since that time, tell your lawyer. It is better that your attorney hears these things from you, so that we can appropriately prepare your case. We do not want to be surprised by the Defendants in Court.