Frequently asked questions
Why Do We Do This?
We do it because it's fair. We do it because it makes the justice system available to people other than the wealthy. We do it because it ensures that our interests are perfectly aligned with our clients' interests. When you hire an attorney who gets paid more by getting you paid more, you win. It's that simple.
How do I go about hiring a lawyer for my case?
It's quite simple. Give us a call, send us an email, or complete our online form. We will contact you promptly and arrange a meeting with you whereby we will discuss your case in detail. In most cases, we can meet with you at your home or office, or you can meet us at our office as well.
Most personal injury cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will not have to pay anything out of pocket to hire us, and the consultation is always free.
Am I assessed a charge for consulting with a lawyer at the beginning?
Initial consultations with any lawyer in our law firm are free of charge. These are intended to determine the validity/strength of your case and balance that against our relevant experience to ensure an appropriate match.
Are judges and juries required for all cases going to trial?
Contrary to what you see on TV, going to trial is a last resort. Trials cost money and time, and when it all comes down to it, you are at the mercy of the jury, that is to say, you are at the mercy of 6 complete strangers who may or may not have their own biases.
Ultimately, it is a risky proposition for both sides.
We are a firm of experienced trial lawyers. We are always willing to go to trial, and we have a very successful track record. However, it is often in your best interest to try to resolve your case through other means such as mediation.
We evaluate every case on an individual basis, weigh all of the options, and proceed down the path that has the greatest chance of success.
How long will it take for my case to settle?
Wrongful death cases will typically start at the demand phase, and the litigation phase will begin rapidly. In other words, wrongful death cases pick up a lot of momentum very early on in the process, and are generally resolved in 6 months to a year.
In regard to personal injury cases, every case is different, but almost every case goes through three distinct phases:
The Medical Attention Phase
The Demand Phase
The Litigation Phase
The medical attention phase is generally the longest phase of your case. During this phase we will conduct all of the investigative work, coordinate with your doctors, and make contact with the defendants, their attorneys, and their insurance company. You simply need to focus on following your physician's advice. We usually do not move onto the next phase of a case until you are back on your feet, or until your physician has developed a solid prognosis regarding your future medical needs.
The demand phase moves rather quickly. Our attorneys calculate all of your damages (lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc.) and put together a demand packet which is then sent to the defendant. The initial rounds of negotiation will begin. This phase can take as little as a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, large insurance companies move at a snail's pace, and there can often be a delay of a couple of months where the insurance company is simply passing your file around their various departments. This is an issue from time to time, but usually this phase moves quickly.
The litigation phase can be non existent or it could take a tremendous amount of time. This is entirely proportionate to the specifics of your case. In a case where you are clearly not at fault, this portion of the case will generally move quickly. If we are required to prove the other party's fault, or if you have said or done anything to complicate your case before our firm got involved there may be months of negotiation or additional work to "prove up" your case. In other words, this phase will move fast or slow depending upon the level of opposition from the defendants. If the case goes to trial, we are at the mercy of the court system which is generally backed up in most counties.
There are additional circumstances that may make your case move faster or slower, but generally speaking, a routine accident case will take around 3-6 months to resolve with 80% of that time devoted to the medical attention phase. However, your case may take longer if your doctor recommends that you need to treat for a longer period of time.
How will my lawyers inform me about case proceedings?
We will contact you when important deadlines or court appearances are necessary, as well as keep you abreast on all major changes. Since we will most likely be dealing with an insurance company, you can expect a reasonable amount of delay between significant events, as these insurance companies move rather slow. We are always available to speak to our clients and we encourage our clients to contact us as often as they would like to get an update, but as mentioned, our clients will be notified when anything major occurs.
I have a question – What do I do?
We are happy to answer any questions you may have. We can always be reached by phone or email anytime. For normal day-to-day questions about your case, the paralegal assigned to your case is qualified to assist you, and the same confidentiality you have with your attorney applies to your paralegal or any of our office staff. For questions regarding specific legal advice and more detailed information regarding your case, our attorneys will be glad to assist you.
Will my case be settled without my approval?
Every settlement offer proposed to us will be discussed with you. No settlement offer will be accepted without your consent (see contract for details).
What is a fair amount for my settlement?
Evaluating a claim incorporates many different factors that your legal counsel will discuss with you. Recommendations will be made with reasons given for every one by your attorney. Since each of our lawyers has a wide breadth of experience in regards to case settlement and has knowledge of juries and judges behaving similarly in similar cases, clients usually follow our lead as far as recommendations are concerned. A thorough analysis will be given by our lawyers so that you may make an educated dscision to accept or reject the settlement offer from the defendant/insurance company.
What's the difference between legal assistants and actual lawyers?
Legal assistants and lawyers do not share the same responsibilities. Legal assistants are professional, experienced members of your legal team that help prepare lawsuits by conducting investigations, performing medical and legal research – along with other supplementary work. Legal assistants cannot offer legal advice.
When you need legal advice on the spot, legal assistants will turn to a lawyer immediately. However, in your claim's everyday preparation, legal assistants require your undivided attention and cooperation. They are here to serve you.
What is the firm's goal if it represents me?
We want to make sure that you are compensated fairly for your injuries. We are proud that many of our cases come from satisfied clients. Please do not hesitate to recommend our services to a friend or family member if they should ever be in need of an attorney.
Who decides to settle my case?
You are the only person who can decide to settle your case. Throughout the process, your attorney help you understand the elements of the case and decide whether to accept a settlement or proceed to trial.
Please understand that a settlement guarantees some compensation for your injuries. We can not guarantee what will happen if your case goes to trial. If we are unable to obtain a settlement that you are satisfied with, we have the experience and resources necessary to take your case to trial.
What happens when my case is settled?
After your case settles, it takes approximately twenty (20) days to receive the settlement check from the insurance company or defendant. After you sign the check, Florida law requires that it be held in the firm's trust account until the check clears. This generally takes seven (7) to ten (10) business days.
When the check clears, your attorney will provide you with an itemized closing statement which reflects the total settlement or verdict, the amount of attorneys' fees and costs and any unpaid medical expenses which will be paid from the settlement. After you approve and sign the closing statement, your attorney will provide you with a check for your portion of the settlement.
If your case is settled without a trial, it takes approximately thirty (30) days from the date of settlement until you will receive the settlement proceeds. Regardless of whether your case is settled or goes to trial, the amount of money you receive from a settlement or verdict in a personal injury case is not taxable. However, any interest earned on your money after disbursement to you is taxable.
Do I have to go to trial?
Only about 10 to 15 percent of cases actually go to trial. Most civil cases settle prior to trial. However, our firm will handle and prepare your case as thoroughly as possible in the event that it does go to trial.
What can I do to help?
The most important thing you can do is to keep your attorney completely informed. You should openly discuss all aspects of your case and your personal background, both good and bad. Virtually every case has some negative element.
Most negative aspects of a case can be successfully handled by your attorney, as long as your are honest.
It is also imperative that our firm has copies of all of your medical records and medical bills. Please keep your attorney and paralegal informed of all of your doctors appointments and medical treatment so that we can obtain the records and bills.
It is also important that the attorney and paralegal handling your case know your medical history prior to your accident or injury. If you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition it is essential that you tell your attorney about it.
Make sure you follow all of your doctor's recommendations. If you do not complete your medical treatment, you give the insurance company a very valuable argument that your injuries cannot be as bad as you claim because if they were, you would be going to the doctor and following his/her recommendations.
Be sure to let your doctor know about all of your medical complaints. Insurance companies will carefully review your medical records in determining the value of your case.
Please keep us advised as to any changes of address, marital status, occupation, new doctors or physical therapists, or additional accidents or injuries.