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Gainesville & Ocala Personal Injury Attorneys > Gainesville Personal Injury Attorney

Gainesville Personal Injury Attorneys

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you are likely feeling the pressure of handling physical injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other expenditures. You may feel lost, and have unanswered questions about how to proceed with your case. At Meldon Law, we provide our clients with answers and compassionate support. We practice law with the highest ethical standards in the legal profession and achieve positive results with decades of experience, skill, and dedication to working hard for you. Our Gainesville personal injury attorneys handle a variety of injury cases throughout Gainesville, Alachua County, and all of North Central Florida, and we are looking forward to helping you resolve your case.

Cases We Handle

Our skilled personal injury attorneys provide representation for negligence cases, including:

Phases Of A Personal Injury Case

Determine if there is a case

Immediately upon accepting a personal injury case the accident attorney begins an investigation centered on the “three legs” of an injury case. Just as a stool needs three legs to be able to stand upright, a personal injury case has three legs to support a claim. The three vital legs or aspects that must be proven and documented are:

Who was at fault?

It is crucial to begin an investigation immediately after an accident occurred before any evidence is destroyed or altered. Just because the police officer gave a ticket to the other person, does not mean that the other person’s insurance company will accept responsibility for the crash. Insurance companies may try to blame the victim for causing or contributing to the accident. Florida is a comparative negligence state which means that more than one person can contribute to causing an accident. Because of this, it is of vital importance to immediately and thoroughly start an accident investigation before the evidence gets cold. There are three main aspects to this part of the investigation:

  • The Vehicles involved – An Accident Investigator is required to examine the car or truck, take photographs, inspect the car, and take measurements to determine crush damage and other important information. The “black box” of a car can be used to determine speed and other factors as well. In serious injury cases, it is important to also hire an Accident Reconstruction Engineer immediately to evaluate the vehicles from an engineer’s expert perspective, (top personal injury attorneys will do this).
  • The Scene of the accident – This is vital and requires an Accident Investigator to visit the scene in person in order to photograph, inspect, measure skid marks, and look for other factors such as bushes or trees or anything else that could have contributed to the accident. It is of vital importance to do this ASAP. An Accident Reconstruction Engineer may also be needed to evaluate the scene in significant injury cases (again, something the best accident attorneys will do).
  • The Witnesses – Any witnesses to the accident need to be interviewed by an Accident Investigator. It is also important to interview all witnesses as soon as possible, before they become hard to find or their memories fade.

Were there any injuries caused by the accident?

It is a must to document any injuries caused by the accident. To do this, the following documents are required:

  • Medical records after the accident and any records from before the accident, EMS reports, hospital records, records from the first doctors seen to the doctor seen most recently, and everyone in between.
  • Medical records prior to the accident are important to assemble and review to determine what injuries are new and what problems were preexisting.
  • Doctor’s evaluation of injuries suffered in the accident.
  • Medical bills from the accident also help to determine the extent and seriousness of the injuries
  • Under Florida law it must be established by a doctor, that there is either: one, a permanent injury, two, significant scarring, or, three, a loss of a bodily function, as a result of the accident in order to recover for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other similar damages. (You can still recover your out of pocket expenses, such as past medical bills, and loss of income and property damage.)

What insurance is available for compensation?

Insurance coverage for the at fault parties, including the owner of the vehicle, driver, and employer (when appropriate) needs to be requested in writing; according to the guidelines of Florida law and then evaluated.

All possible insurance coverage’s that may be available to the victim are also evaluated, such as uninsured motorist coverage, health insurance coverage, PIP, and medical payment’s coverage. There are many different ways you may qualify for these benefits… and all of them must be evaluated. An experienced personal injury attorney knows of all the possible ways to find these potential benefits.

Now that it has been established that there is a claim to made, a Demand Package is compiled, and sent out

A Demand Package is a compilation of all records and is sent out to the insurance company (this is just one reason why it is important to hire a law firm that has adequate, competent and experienced staff to help the attorney compile all this data). This “Demand Package” is on average 1 to 2 inches thick and can be several hundred pages in length, consisting of these types of documents:

  • Crash report
  • Photographs of vehicles and scene
  • Property damage reports
  • EMS report
  • ER records
  • All doctor reports
  • All diagnostic tests including X-rays and MRIs
  • Medical bills
  • Prior medical records
  • Final medical evaluations
  • Expert witness reports
  • Witness statements
  • Evaluation of future medical expense
  • Statement regarding the effect of the accident on the victim and their family members
  • Evaluation of loss of future earning capacity

This “Package” includes a letter from the attorney that summarizes all the facts and information about the case and “Demands” that the insurance company pay a certain amount of money within a certain period of time (on average 30 days).

Negotiations now begin between your attorney and the insurance adjuster

After the insurance company receives the Demand Package and evaluates the claim, they then will make an initial offer to settle the case. Sometimes this initial offer will be the maximum limits of the insurance policy and will be accepted by the client. Other times they will offer less than the full policy limits and the negotiations are now in full swing. The attorney will consult with their client about the strengths and weaknesses of their case and make recommendations on how to proceed now. The final decision is always up to the client, but it is important to listen to the attorney’s advice (another reason to get an experienced and knowledgeable attorney). At this point negotiations and offers to settle can go back and forth numerous times until an offer is accepted (a settlement) or a lawsuit is filed.

Advantages to settling a case without a lawsuit, outside of court:

  • Lower attorney fees and costs
  • Money is obtained immediately
  • Avoiding the stress involved in a drawn out lawsuit that can take years
  • Life goes on and plans for the future can be made
  • Guaranteed outcome

Filing a lawsuit

If the insurance company’s highest offer is rejected by the client the next step is to file a lawsuit known as a complaint. The attorney will serve the complaint on the defendants (the people legally at fault for the accident and injuries). In Florida, more than one person can be held legally responsible, such as the owner and driver or employer. Florida also has “comparative negligence” which means that more than one person may have contributed to causing an accident and that everyone needs to be served with the complaint.

Filing a lawsuit means that the case will be scheduled to be presented and argued in a trial in front of a judge and jury to decide what is just. To do this there is more information to be gathered to prove or try a case to a jury:

  • Interrogatories or questions for all parties
  • Requests or subpoenas to produce records or other information from all parties involved and all witnesses, including doctors
  • Depositions or sworn statements taken by the attorneys for both sides of the case and for all potential witnesses
  • Motions may need to be filed in this process

Mediation is ordered in the case management conference by the judge in most cases in Florida

Note: Mediation can be utilized before a lawsuit is filed. 99% of personal injury cases in Florida will be ordered to mediation before a case can be tried before a jury. Mediation is when both sides sit down together in a conference room with a mediator. Mediators are usually an attorney or a retired judge that have special training in helping to settle cases. Present in the mediation are the attorneys for all sides (insurance companies hire an attorney to defend them) and their clients, an insurance company adjuster, and the mediator. Both sides take turns explaining their side of the case and can present exhibits, if desired. Negotiations then begin with each party going to a separate room. The mediator then performs a type of “shuttle diplomacy” going back and forth between the parties trying to arrive at a settlement.

If a settlement is reached in mediation the insurance company will write a check to the injured person within two to three weeks, then the lawsuit is then dropped, and the case is over.

Trial in front a judge and jury

If a settlement was not reached in mediation, a date is set for trial. The trial can last from a few days to a few weeks depending on the number of witnesses and how long they are on the witness stand. The trial can cost as much as $50,000 to $100,000 dollars to present. A jury consists of 6 people plus one or two alternate jurors selected by the attorneys. These 6 “strangers” will decide the case (give a verdict) and how much money (if any!) is to be awarded. There is no way to accurately predict what a jury will decide. Attorneys and insurance companies use their past experience to make educated guesses regarding the outcome of the case. This is another reason to get an experienced accident attorney to help you decide if your case should go to trial.

Appeals can follow after the jury verdict

Appeals can attack the rulings of the judge, the jury verdict, and in some cases the conduct of the attorneys. Appeals can take years to resolve. If the appellate judges order a new trial, the whole process starts over.

We Help Our Clients Through Every Step

If you have suffered a serious injury in Gainesville and the surrounding areas, we can help you. Call us now at 352-614-3705 for a free consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys in Gainesville. You need a law firm that will provide you with an honest, straightforward, easy-to-understand discussion about your case.

We will begin working on your case immediately and will answer all of your questions and set well-defined expectations. At Meldon Law, we provide expert legal aid and compassionate client care to victims of all types of personal injury. You don’t have to go it alone against the insurance companies.

We will keep you updated and informed through the resolution of your claim. At our firm, you are a friend and client for life. Your experience with us doesn’t end after you receive your settlement check. Client satisfaction is of utmost importance at Meldon Law.

Keep in mind that most states limit the amount of time personal injury victims have to seek compensation for expenses due to a personal injury. If you believe that you have a personal injury case, it is important to contact our personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. The sooner you pursue a personal injury lawsuit or litigation, the sooner you can receive a personal injury settlement. If you aren’t sure if you need a personal injury attorney for your car accident, give us a call for free and we’ll be happy to answer.

Once Meldon Law takes your case, you will have nothing to worry about in your medical malpractice recovery other than your injuries. Contact us at our Gainesville law office. We handle cases in the greater Gainesville area, including surrounding areas like Newberry, Alachua, High Springs, Jonesville, and Archer.

Common Mistakes After An Accident Or Injury

As Gainesville personal injury attorneys, we often see legitimately injured people make these mistakes and then be unable to prove their case and not receive the fair compensation that they deserve. Here are some of the common mistakes that you do NOT want to make if you want to win your personal injury case:

  • Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Attention after a Traumatic Event: In Florida, the victim is always responsible for proving that they were injured in an incident. Insurance companies and juries often believe that if you were not hurt badly enough to seek immediate medical attention that you were not hurt badly enough to be compensated. It is important to seek medical care and not just ignore the pain or think it will get better with time. Imagine how you would feel if you ended up going to trial over your accident, only to hear the attorney for the insurance company open his argument with, “He didn’t even see a doctor for two weeks!”
  • Failing to Be Totally Honest About Your Past Medical History and Habits with Your Doctor: Doctors or health care providers will ask you if you have had any previous injuries or illness before your accident. It is very important, to be honest when answering these questions. It is important because it will allow the doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis and then be able to prescribe a more therapeutic course of treatment for you. Also, not being fully honest will only hurt your legal case. If you provide your doctor with incomplete information, their medical opinions could be rejected by the insurance company and by a jury. Another thing to be honest about is the extent of damages to your vehicle from the accident. For example, do not tell your doctor the car was “totaled” when it was only scratched. It will all catch up with you and destroy your case. Be Honest!
  • Talking With Your Doctor About Lawsuits or a Attorneys Advice: Your doctor’s job is to focus on your medical care and he or she does not need to know about your legal issues. Not only is it unnecessary to share this information with your doctor, but it can also negatively impact your medical care and your legal case. Most doctors do not want to be involved in a lawsuit, and may even be unwilling to provide treatment or reach important conclusions if they find out. Remember: Whatever you say in confidence to a doctor is not confidential at all once you file a personal injury claim!
  • Missing or Showing up Late for Medical Appointments: Insurance companies and juries get to see your medical records. When you skip a medical appointment, your medical record just says “NS” which means “No Show”. You may have had a very good reason for not showing up for an appointment, but generally excuses, no matter how valid, usually do not make it into the record. More than one or two “No Show” entries could make it look like you were not committed to getting better or that you were feeling fine. Skipping appointments or showing up late for appointments could also irritate your doctor. Irritated doctors do not make good witnesses for their patients. If you need to cancel an appointment, make sure to call at least 24 hours before, if not earlier, and reschedule. You don’t want the insurance company’s attorney saying, “It must not have hurt that much, he didn’t even show up for his appointments.”
  • Failing to get Your Pain Accurately Documented in Your Medical Records: Insurance companies and juries will not believe you are in pain just because you say so. They need to read about your pain in your medical records. When insurance companies and juries review your records, they will be looking to see how soon you reported pain after an injury and how long you continued to report that pain. One easy way to make sure your pain and limitations do make it into your chart is to write it down before your appointment (or keep a daily journal) and then give it to your doctor at your visit. Keeping a journal is also helpful for times when you may be having a good day on the day of your visit and you tell the doctor you are “much better”, but for the last two weeks, you may not have been able to get out of bed. Do not exaggerate, be honest.
  • Failing to Inform Your Doctor if Your Injury is Affecting Your Ability to Work: Insurance companies and juries will not believe that your injury affects your ability to work just because you say so. If your injury is affecting your ability to work, it is important to tell to your doctor and get it into your medical records. Again, keeping notes to give your doctor can be a good idea.
  • Failing to Take Medications as Prescribed: There is a reason why doctors prescribe a particular type of medication for a particular period of time. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you are having side effects or problems with the medication, call your doctor and speak with him or her about it. Do not play doctor with your medical care. Do not put yourself in the position where you may have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor’s advice. It can be devastating to your claim.
  • Stopping Medical Treatment Too Soon: Insurance companies and juries often believe if a person stops getting medical treatment for an injury, the injury must be all better. They also believe that big gaps between treatments suggest that someone must have heeled from one injury and suffered a new injury unrelated to the first. If you have an injury that is affecting your ability to function, you should seek medical treatment until you are healed or until a doctor tells you that there is nothing more that can be done to improve your condition.
  • Failing to Follow Treatment Recommendations Related to Depression or Anxiety: Often pain or disability can cause depression or anxiety. This is real and common and can respond to medical intervention. It is also important to talk to your doctor about these symptoms so it is in your medical record and to follow any treatment prescribed by your doctor. Remember: If it isn’t in your medical records, it is difficult to prove to insurance companies or juries that this “suffering” exists at all!
  • Failing to Keep a Personal Medical File: It is important that your attorney knows every medical care provider you have seen and every procedure that you have done after an injury. It is also important that you keep track of all doctors’ orders, treatments, referrals, and work restrictions. The easiest way to do this is just to make and maintain a file folder to help yourself, your attorney, and your case by keeping track of all your medical care.

Speak to a Gainesville Personal Injury Attorney Now

Call us now at 800-373-8000 or email us to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Gainesville personal injury attorney.

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