Florida Car Accident Lawyers & Cases: The Truth
When most people call my office about a Florida car accident, they really have no idea how these cases are handled. There are so many misconceptions because the cases involve complex procedures that most people don’t understand.
But let’s just say that you were rear-ended in a serious accident. If you were injured, you probably went to a doctor or hospital. Then you may or may not have called an insurance company (hopefully you didn’t).
Anyway, if you were seriously injured in Orlando, Florida, there is no question, you need an Orlando personal injury lawyer. (We actually handle cases around the state.) But what will we do?
What Do Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Actually Do?
That depends a LOT on which Florida personal injury lawyer you hire. Unlike legal issues involving businesses, family law, or even criminal law, most injury & accident lawyers, from small and large firms, practice HIGH VOLUME LAW. The owners of most of those firms have simply made the financial calculation that, even if they do not maximize their client’s cases, they will do “good enough” on most cases, and with a higher volume, they will make more money.
I guess that’s all fine and good, as long as you aren’t the poor client in that situation.
We have made the decision, as a team, to practice LOW VOLUME LAW. That makes us a very unusual law firm in the personal injury world. This is just the way I have always operated best — intense focus and low volume. I sleep best at night when I know that we are doing our absolute best for all of our clients. And I surround myself with a very small group of highly experienced & award-winning lawyers, part of a team I have created, who feel the same way.
But the actual PROCESS of handling car accidents cases is very similar across most firms (with one big exception: many large and small high volume firms do NOT ever file lawsuits).
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Your Case Settled?
Once you have had an accident, we lawyers usually do not know your case value. Even if you have had extensive treatment, like an emergency surgery, we usually need to wait to see how you recovered from the surgery, and whether your injuries impact any other areas of your life, such as your ability to get back to work, and enjoy other activities, like hobbies, exercise, events with family, and that sort of thing.
Once you have finished most of your medical treatment, we next must decide whether to file a lawsuit, or settle your case without one.
There are pros and cons to settling without filing a lawsuit versus filing a lawsuit. Both can be excellent choices, depending on the specific facts of your case.
If you recovered well and did not receive extensive treatment, then, most of the time, we will prepare a demand package, which includes your medical bills, medical treatment summaries, and our version of the story of how this accident has affected your life. We also include photos from the accident, the vehicles, and, if available, any pictures of your injuries (such as you with a cast on your arm after surgery, in the hospital, and that kind of thing). The most important part of the demand package is HOW we tell your story. We are big on details, so we take the time to learn how the accident has affected you, then tell your story in the most persuasive way possible, with the goal of convincing the insurance company that you really deserve the big amount of money we are seeking on your behalf.
You should know that insurance companies are NOT fair. They simply do not care about what happened to you, or why you deserve more money, unless they believe that they will lose MORE by fighting harder & longer, which is what we always aim to convince them.
Another time when we will try to settle cases pre-suit is if you were SERIOUSLY injured, the other driver was CLEARLY at fault, and the value of your case is CLEARLY above the available insurance policy limits. In these cases, as long as we convincingly tell your story, and provide the necessary evidence, we can often settle very high value cases, even multi-million dollar cases, without filing a lawsuit, or very, very early in the lawsuit. But that takes major preparation before we send the package.
If we are able to settle without a lawsuit (which we call “pre-suit,”) then the process is fairly simple. Sometime after you’ve finished most of your medical treatment, we send our demand letter, then we negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Once we reach an agreed upon settlement (and we always make sure you agree; in fact we are required by law to make sure you accept the settlement amount), then the insurance company sends us a settlement agreement, which you sign, we return, and then they send us a check. We deposit that check into our bar-regulated trust account. From there, our fee is deducted, and we have to re-pay your medical bills, including any payments made by health insurance companies (we aggressively negotiate these bills on behalf of our clients, however). Then we send the remainder to you. And the case is closed.
What If We Need To File A Lawsuit?
There are some cases where your best option, by far, is for us to file a lawsuit.
Then we usually collect evidence before filing the lawsuit, to make sure we will be able to prove our case. Then we file a document in the courthouse called a “complaint,” which is served on the defendant, and your lawsuit has begun.
What Happens During A Lawsuit Involving Accidents & Injuries?
Filing a lawsuit is not the same as going to trial. (99% of cases do not go to trial.)
A lawsuit is a long process which starts with the lawyers from both sides trying to collect evidence that is NOT within their own client’s control (often such evidence is controlled by the opposing party, or third parties not involved in the lawsuit). We need this evidence because the plaintiff (that’s the injured person who normally files a lawsuit) has the burden to PROVE that the defendant caused the accident, and the extent of the plaintiff’s damages.
We find evidence through various procedures like depositions (these are verbal questions by an attorney in the presence of a court reporter, who transcribes the questions and answers), written answers to questions, and document and physical evidence exchanges between the lawyers. Both sides basically spend a long time, in a complex procedure, getting evidence from the other side. It’s a pain for the lawyers but really nothing appears to be happening from the client’s perspective — we just periodically contact clients when we need information, per court deadlines, and otherwise it probably feels a lot like nothing is happening.
Eventually, during the lawsuit, we get to a process called mediation. 90% of cases settle during, or shortly after, mediation. Mediation is different from trial, though. If we can’t settle the case at mediation, then we have to prepare for trial. And trial involves very intensive preparation, where we talk to our client, his providers, experts, and any witnesses, then review documentary evidence (like medical records and bills, employment records, and any other pertinent documents), and physical evidence (like the accident scene itself). We only recommend going to trial when the insurance company is being totally unreasonable in refusing to settle the case, because there is always a risk that the jury could award our client nothing. On the other hand, sometimes going to trial is the right thing to do!
We have only scratched the surface in explaining the truth about car accident lawyers. Every case is different so may involve slight variations in our planning and procedure. So we hope you will call our office for your free consultation, if you were seriously injured. Our lawyers will tell you exactly what you need to know, to get the absolute most money from your car accident case. You can text or call our office, 24/7/365, at (407) 803-2139. Our experienced lawyers are ready to answer your questions about the best way to proceed in your accident case. We provide free & fast phone consultations — and return calls and texts as soon as possible.Share