Frequently Asked Questions

Answers from Our Orlando Personal Injury Lawyers

What types of damages can I claim?
In all cases, there are two general categories of damages – economic damages and non-economic damages. You can be compensated for both past and future economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are things such as wage loss, mileage expense to go to doctor appointments, prescription costs, co-pays on insurance, over-the-counter medications, diminution in value to your car, etc. The other category is non-economic damages, which may include things such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, etc.

The non-economic damages are often greater than the economic damages if the injuries are significant enough. Consult with an attorney for a full explanation of these types of damages.

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Are there deadlines for filing claims?
Yes. Under Florida law, there are very specific, detailed deadlines to file claims. If you do not meet these deadlines, you may be forever barred from bringing your claim forward.

These time restrictions are known as statutes of limitations, and they vary depending on the type of claim you are bringing. It is critical that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your incident so you can receive good legal advice on the time limits for filing a personal injury claim.

How can I recover lost wages?
Wage loss is paid out under your Personal Injury Protection benefit, which happens to be mandatory coverage for auto insurance in the State of Florida. There are exceptions, such as when you elected to have your wage loss reimbursement excluded on your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefit when you obtained your policy.

Normally, people who have their wage loss benefits excluded are those who are not employed for some reason or another. You can also elect to have a standard PIP (which covers wage loss at 60%) or extended PIP (which covers wage loss at 80%).

You will need to provide proof of income in the form of a paycheck stub, income tax return, or some other verifiable means. The remaining percentage of your wage loss not covered by your PIP insurance will become part of your claim against the defendant driver.

When cases do not involve PIP coverage, the wage loss becomes part of the demand to the at-fault party. In most cases, proof of lost income is rather simple if the injured person receives a paycheck. For our clients who are self-employed, we work very closely with them to help them assemble the necessary documentation to prove the wage loss claim. Tax returns can be helpful in instances where clients are self-employed.

How can I recover my out-of-pocket expenses?
Out-of-pocket expenses are always made part of your claim and are part of your economic damages that we seek to recover from the at-fault party. When your claim is presented to the at-fault party, we include your out-of-pocket expenses as part of the demand package.

If your case does not settle in what we call the "pre-suit phase," then your case will proceed to court where we will ask a jury for your out-of-pocket expenses as part of your economic damages on the verdict form.

Will my insurance premiums increase if I report an accident to my insurance company?
Your insurance premiums should not go up if you are not at fault for the accident. It will be part of your insurance record, but if you are not at fault, your premiums should not increase.

In most situations, your own insurance company will go after the insurance company that insures the at-fault party to recover the costs it may have paid to you for things such as car repairs or additional medical expenses.

Am I entitled to punitive damages?
Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and, essentially, "send a message" to convince that party to change his or her ways so others don't get hurt.

Your ability to recover punitive damages depends largely on the facts of the case. Punitive damages are not available in the pre-suit phase of a case. They can only be recovered if you file a lawsuit making a formal claim for punitive damages under Florida law.

What if the person who caused my injuries does not have insurance?
In the case of an automobile or motorcycle accident, if the person who is at fault for an accident does not have insurance, then we do three things. First, we run an asset check on the at-fault party to see if he or she has assets that we could possibly seize to cover your damages.

This requires us to file a lawsuit against the individual. Second, we look to see if the defendant's driver owns the vehicle. Sometimes the driver and owner are two different people.

While the driver might not have insurance, the owner may be insured, especially if the vehicle is financed. Third, we do a complete assessment of the client's insurance coverages to see if this individual has Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage.

If that is the case, then we look to the client's insurance coverage to compensate this individual for his or her injuries and damages. This should not cause the client's insurance to go up since he or she is not at fault for the accident.

What should I do after an accident?
There are five things you should do immediately after an accident. These include the following steps:

  1. Call 911 and report the accident. Regardless of the extent of the property damage and how you feel after the collision, you must call 911 and report the accident. If you do not call 911, the insurance company will use this against you when we negotiate the value of your claim.
  2. Exchange information with all other drivers involved in the accident. Be sure to get the other driver's tag number, license number, and insurance company information. Even in if you are waiting for the police to arrive, you still need to start gathering this information. There are unfortunately many situations in which the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident.
  3. Investigate. Seek out witnesses and take photos. Even if the other person admits fault, his or her story may change once you file a claim. Witnesses will not wait for the police to arrive, so you need to get their contact information right away. Also, scene and property damage photos can be critical in proving how the accident happened and the forces exerted on your body.
  4. Seek medical attention. Whether it is at the accident scene or at the hospital later on, it is essential that you seek medical attention as soon as possible so you fully understand the extent of your injuries. This will also help you ensure that your injuries are well-documented. The insurance company will use any delay in medical treatment against you.
  5. Do not discuss your injuries with the insurance company. Report the facts of the accident (what happened) to your insurance company, but do not discuss your injuries. Because adrenaline is flowing through your body, you may not immediately feel the full extent of your injuries. Statements such as "I'm not injured" or "I'm OK" can and will be used against you by the insurance company.

If you have additional questions that you would like answered concerning your personal injury case, call us at (407) 792-2478 and speak with an Orlando personal injury attorney from our firm!

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