Accidents happen! No matter how carefully we try to live our lives, sometimes others around us do things that unintentionally hurt us or the ones we love. When a person fails to exercise the type of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same circumstances, it is called “negligence.” When a person speeds through a red right and causes an accident, said action is often deemed to be negligent. A person’s failure to act can also be deemed as negligent. Suppose an employee in a supermarket notices that a customer spilled water on the floor. Instead of immediately taking action to prevent others from walking over the water and cleaning it up, the employee simply walks away and a customer slips and falls. That is also considered negligence.
Many people are hurt, and even killed, every day because of the negligence of others. When this occurs, the law allows the injured person or their family to recover monetary damages for the losses caused by the negligent person. What is commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” is only one type of damage recoverable. Damages can include past and future medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages and/or earning capacity, loss of net accumulations to an estate, etc.
If the negligent person was in the course of their employment at the time of the accident, the employer will usually also be responsible. Where there is an automobile accident, the owner of the automobile is just as responsible as the driver for any negligence under Florida law. It’s referred to as the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” since automobiles can be dangerous on the roads when in the wrong hands. Lesson: Be careful who you allow to drive your automobile.
If you are injured in an accident, you should immediately seek appropriate medical care. If the accident is a result of the negligence of another, you should also contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. If the attorney finds and contacts you soon after the accident, it may be considered “solicitation” and that’s illegal. Think twice before hiring someone of questionable ethics to entrust your case to.
The decision you make in choosing an attorney is an important one. Any licensed attorney can advertise themselves to be a personal injury attorney. Simply being licensed does not ensure results. Would you have a recent medical school graduate perform surgery on you when you can have an experienced board certified surgeon perform it? Probably not! You should also choose your attorney carefully. Many advertise themselves on television continuously. Some names are well-known, not necessarily for their legal expertise, but because you hear or read their names on their advertisements all the time. Have you ever wondered how some lawyers find time to practice law with their busy commercial and infomercial filming schedules? Are other and perhaps less experienced attorneys handling most of the cases?
Most personal injury attorneys are compensated on a contingent fee basis. That is, they get paid a percentage of the recovery they obtain for you. If they do not recover for you, you do not pay. The Florida Bar regulates the maximum percentages that an attorney may charge. Most firms typically charge the same percentages in the majority of cases.
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