Some people are reluctant to retain an attorney after a personal injury accident because they expect the cost of an attorney to prove too expensive. These accident victims are already injured and probably not working, so they can’t afford to pay any money up-front for an attorney. They’d rather use their savings or a spouse’s income to put food on the table.
When you retain a personal injury attorney, however, you don’t have to worry about paying up-front. Most personal injury attorneys, including those at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., work on a contingency fee, which means they recover their attorney fees from any final settlement amount or court-awarded damages.
What Does it Mean When an Attorney Takes Your Case on Contingency?
When an attorney takes your case on a contingency basis, your initial case evaluation is free. Additionally, you don’t pay a fee unless your attorney successfully recovers compensation on your behalf. Your attorney could win a settlement for you, or if you do not believe the insurance company’s offer is fair and reasonable, your attorney can prepare for litigation.
There is no cost to you if your attorney fails to recover any compensation, even if your case still involved substantial litigation. You have enough to worry about with trying to recover from your injuries; you don’t need to worry about another expense just so that you can recover money that you may desperately need.
Why You Should Retain a Personal Injury Attorney
You should retain an attorney to help you with your personal injury case for many reasons, including the complexity of Florida’s personal injury laws, especially for accidents that involve commercial vehicles and others that might have more than one person who should share in the responsibility for your injuries. Additionally, insurance companies love when injured people do not contact an attorney. These companies know they can get away with a claim denial or a pittance of an offer when the injured individual is unrepresented.
Instead of fighting for maximum compensation, let your attorney do that so that you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries or concentrate on finalizing a loved one’s estate in a wrongful death case.
Resources to Help With Your Case
Settling or litigating a personal injury case can sometimes result in a significant amount of money. Gathering evidence is usually costly. We cover these costs during your case and recover them from your settlement or trial award.
The costs you might see in addition to the cost for our services include:
- Accident investigation expenses
- Court reporters, including those used during depositions, arbitration or mediation, and court hearings
- Mediation or arbitration expenses
- Medical evaluations
- Psychological evaluations for those who might suffer from anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic accident
Working With the Insurance Company
Some people also consider settling with the insurance company themselves. However, you should keep in mind that the insurance company knows that without an attorney backing you, you might not know your case’s real value.
Additionally, insurance companies will do anything to keep from paying a claim. When you speak to the insurance company, the agent will twist what you say in an attempt to deny the claim. If the agent can’t find a reason to make the accident look as though it was your fault, the agent will attempt to offer you the lowest amount possible.
In many cases, this amount will not even cover all of your medical expenses, never mind additional damages you might collect, especially if doctors expect the accident injuries to cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
What Happens When an Insurance Company Won’t Come to a Fair and Reasonable Settlement?
When you work with personal injury attorneys, their experience gives them a better idea of how much you should receive for your case. If the insurance company refuses to come to a fair and reasonable settlement for all of the damages you are entitled to, your attorney will suggest litigation.
It is always your decision as to whether you want to litigate. Your attorney will explain the process as it applies to your case, and you can then make an informed decision.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury encompasses many types of cases. Not all personal injury attorneys handle all types of cases. Each type of case requires different knowledge for the different laws that apply to the case. While it’s easy enough for an attorney to research the law and effectively represent you, there are always pitfalls for each type of case that someone with experience knows and can avoid from the start.
The legal team at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., handles cases that involve:
- Car accidents
- Truck (big rig and other commercial vehicles) accidents
- SUV accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Accidents involving brain injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Accident involving catastrophic injuries and other life-altering injuries
- Child injury cases
- Wrongful death
- No-fault and PIP vehicle insurance disputes
- Insurance disputes
- Commercial insurance claims
Types of Injuries in Personal Injury Cases
Injuries vary depending on the type of case you have. You may sustain injuries with recovery times of days or weeks or injuries that cause long-term or permanent disabilities. Some injuries are monetary only, such as those in insurance disputes, and some injuries include the loss of a loved one, as in wrongful death cases.
A wrongful death case could involve a car accident, medical malpractice, or even a trespassing incident.
While some injuries are monetary only, other injuries include physical and/or psychological injuries.
Physical and psychological injuries include:
- Bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts, and scrapes
- Road rash
- Strains and sprains
- Pulled and torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries
- Simple and compound fractures
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Face and eye injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
- Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological injuries
You may also suffer from secondary injuries. These types of injuries don’t happen immediately at the time of the accident, but could happen hours or days later; regardless, they still result from the accident. Infection is an example of a secondary injury. An open wound from the accident or surgery on an accident injury may become infected.
Underlying conditions, such as diabetes, immunodeficiencies, or medications and treatments that lower white cell counts, could also cause infection and other secondary injuries to develop. Because you would not be suffering through secondary injuries if not for the accident, you can collect damages for these injuries in your accident claim.
Underlying conditions may also contribute to psychological issues. Because of these issues, you might exhibit anxiety or depression if your injuries take too long to heal or turn into long-term or permanent disabilities because of your underlying conditions.
Finally, you could require different types of therapy after an accident, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy. Depending on your physical and/or emotional state, therapy could last for weeks, months, or years. If you did not require therapy before the accident, you shouldn’t have to pay for it after the accident.
Types of Damages You Could Recover After Suffering Injuries in a Personal Injury Case
Depending on the type of case you have, your injuries could vary. Florida law allows you to collect three types of damages for injuries, including special damages, general damages, and punitive damages. Courts award special damages and general damages, both compensatory damages, in an attempt to make victims whole again. Special damages have a monetary value, while general damages do not.
Courts only award punitive damages if a defendant’s actions were intentional or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are not intended to make victims whole again, but rather are awarded as a punishment against the defendant. While it is sometimes difficult to obtain punitive damages, in some cases, it is well worth the extra steps.
Economic damages, often referred to as special damages, include:
- Past medical expenses for those incurred because of the accident and before a settlement or trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those incurred because of the accident and after a settlement or trial award.
- Past lost wages for those lost because of injuries you suffered in the accident and before a settlement and a trial award.
- Future lost wages for income lost from injuries you suffered in the accident and after a settlement or a trial award. You might collect partial lost wages if your injuries do not allow you to work at your previous salary rate in the future.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property and/or real property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses after a wrongful death.
Non-economic damages, often referred to as general damages, are also compensatory damages, but without a monetary value.
General damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress for those who suffered injuries in an accident or other personal injury incident
- Emotional distress for someone who lost a loved one in a wrongful death case
- Loss of quality of life if you have to spend your time in a wheelchair, use ambulatory aids, wear glasses where you never had to before, or use a catheter
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy family activities and outings
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse
- Loss of use of a body part such as a finger or a foot
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your eyesight
- Amputation, even if it is part of a finger and not a whole limb
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement
- Inconvenience if you can no longer do regular chores that you once did, such as grocery shopping, house cleaning, lawn maintenance, home repairs, and home maintenance
Cost of Settling or Litigating a Personal Injury Case
The cost of handling your case depends on various issues, including whether you settle with the insurance company or need to litigate, either against the insurance company or against the defendant.
Other events that contribute to the cost of your case include:
- Investigations into the accident or incident, whether to prove your case or disprove the defendant’s case
- The number of defendants involved. For example, if you were in an accident with a tractor-trailer truck, the driver might not be the only person at fault for the accident. The trucking company, a dispatcher, loader, inspector, truck manufacturer, parts manufacturers, and even parts installers could share some of the liability for your injuries.
- Whether either side requests court hearings during the proceeding. For example, if we ask the defendant for certain documentation or evidence and the defendant does not provide it, we might schedule a hearing to ask the court to compel that information, either by ordering the defendant to provide it or obtaining a subpoena directed at the company or person holding the information. This could include insurance records, driving records, medical records, phone records, or other information that could benefit your case.
- Mediation or arbitration
- Expert witnesses that testify on your behalf. We might use expert witnesses in proving an investigation into a car accident case, or to bolster your testimony and medical records that injuries will most likely lead to permanent disabilities.
These are just some of the things that can happen during the lead-up to a trial. In some cases, if you want to settle, we might use investigative reports and reports from expert witnesses to convince the insurance company’s attorneys that you should receive the compensation you requested in your settlement. We aggressively pursue your claim to ensure that you recover maximum compensation, and that includes using our resources to obtain the information and testimony—both written and verbal—that we need.
If you suffered injuries in a personal injury case, contact a personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation. You will not need to bring a retainer fee with you. If a reputable lawyer takes your case, you do not pay unless you recover compensation—and then your settlement covers all lawyer bills.