KW Stuart Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers | November 8, 2023 | Personal Injury
Florida state law governs personal injury matters in Stuart. Although the personal injury claim process differs from case to case, the below description can help you understand how your own claim might proceed.
Seek Medical Treatment
Seeking medical attention has got to be your first priority for both medical and legal reasons. For legal reasons, the opposing party can exploit any delay in medical treatment and use it against you. Assume you’re injured if you suffer any impact in the accident, even if it doesn’t hurt yet.
Initial Evidence Collection
The Florida Evidence Code governs the use of evidence in Florida courts.
During the initial evidence-gathering phase, you might want to collect the following:
- Photos of the scene of the accident, injuries, property damage, etc.
- Transcripts or reports of any interviews with witnesses
- Any accident report
- Identification documents, contact details, and insurance information for anyone involved in the accident
- Medical records
Collect anything else your gut tells you might be important.
Initial Legal Consultation
Most personal injury lawyers will be happy to schedule you a free consultation. Getting a lawyer involved early on can help you in several different ways. For example, a lawyer can offer advice to keep you from making claim-damaging mistakes, such as talking about your case on social media.
Identification of the At-Fault Party
This one could be more difficult than it sounds. In a hit-and-run accident, for example, you might never locate the at-fault party. Proving fault could be difficult as well. Ultimately, you need a defendant who meets two qualifications: (i) you can prove they were at fault, and (ii) they can afford to pay your claim (or their insurance company can).
Sending a Demand Package and Negotiating
A demand package consists of a demand letter plus supporting documentation. Send a demand letter outlining your claim to whoever is responsible for paying it (probably an insurance company). Let your lawyer draft the demand letter for you.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
You won’t need to file a lawsuit if you can convince the other side to offer an acceptable settlement. If they balk, however, filing a lawsuit might be the only way to get things moving again. Filing a lawsuit will also beat the statute of limitations deadline, no matter how long it takes to actually resolve your claim.
Engaging in the Pretrial Discovery Process
The pretrial discovery process offers several ways to gather evidence that is in the possession of the other side. They can seek evidence from you, too. If one party refuses to cooperate, the other party can appeal to the court to sanction the stubborn party. Discovery tools include depositions, interrogatories, demands for the production of evidence, and requests for admissions.
Once you complete the discovery process, you are likely to have as much evidence concerning your claim as you are ever going to. Now would probably be a good time to recommence settlement negotiations with the opposing party. All of the newfound evidence from the discovery process should clarify the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
Should negotiations stall again, mediation is probably the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution. For mediation to happen, however, both parties must agree in advance.
A trained third-party mediator will then intervene in your dispute in a non-coercive manner. They cannot force you to agree, but they can use their skills to help generate an agreement that pleases both sides.
Settlement of Your Claim
If mediation or negotiation is successful, you won’t need to worry about trial. In a settlement agreement, you agree to drop your claim in exchange for the settlement amount.
Once both sides sign the settlement agreement, it becomes a binding contract. If the opposing party fails to honor the terms of the settlement, you can sue them in court on a contract claim. If you win and they still refuse to pay, you can ask the court to garnish their bank account.
Hopefully, your claim will settle long before trial (the great majority of them do).
If it doesn’t, a trial proceeds through the following phases:
- Jury selection, which is an adversarial process involving both sides
- Opening statements by each side
- Questioning and cross-examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence
- Closing statements by both sides
- Jury instructions from the court to the jury
- Jury deliberation and verdict
You can settle your claim at any time, even five minutes before the announcement of the verdict.
You have 30 days after the verdict to file an appeal. Not very many people appeal personal injury verdicts, and not many plaintiff appeals are successful. Nevertheless, sometimes the effort pays off.
Paying Attorney’s Fees and Collecting Compensation
Personal injury lawyers almost all work on a contingency fee basis.
- You pay nothing upfront
- You never pay a dime in legal fees unless your case is successful
- If you win, your legal fees amount to a pre-agreed percentage of whatever amount you win, either in court or at the settlement table
Typically, contingency fees range from 30% to 40% of the total amount of your recovery. Fees tend towards 40% if you go to trial.
Whoever is paying your claim (probably an insurance company) sends the funds to your lawyer’s client escrow account. Your lawyer will deduct the contingency fee from the proceeds. They will send you the remainder after they have made all appropriate deductions.
Get the Compensation You Deserve After an Accident in Stuart, Florida
It’s not enough to “win” – even a $100 compensation award technically constitutes a win. Hiring a Stuart personal injury attorney won’t cost you a dime unless you win, and the right lawyer might be able to multiply your compensation many times over.
CONTACT OUR STUART PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM TODAY
We proudly serve Martin County and its surrounding areas:
KW Stuart Personal Injury & Car Accident Lawyers – Stuart
73 SW Flagler Ave
Stuart, FL 34994