Part 1; The Seven Basic Legal Phases of a Personal Injury Case
This is a brief summary of the basic steps that a top Florida personal injury attorney goes through for most personal injury or accident cases, especially those involving serious injury whether from an accident involving a rear-ender, car crash, truck wreck, big rig/semi accident, motorcycle accident, or multi vehicle pile up. The process of a personal injury or accident case can be lengthy and has many important decisions to be made along the way. It is important to have an experienced accident lawyer with you on your side at every phase of the legal process in order to have the best chance of getting the best and fairest result possible, and the justice you deserve. To help you understand the process, I have summarized the procedures that are normally taken in my office, one of the most experienced personal injury law firms in Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Inverness and North Florida.
Step I., Determine if there is a case. Immediately upon accepting a personal injury case the accident lawyer 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:
Leg 1. 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 lawyers 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.
Leg 2. 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.)
Leg 3. 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.
We at Meldon Law strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of an accident or in the recovery from one.
We are experienced personal injury attorneys, trial lawyers, negotiators, litigators, paralegals, and staff that have been proudly working to get accident victims the justice they deserve for over 40 years in Gainesville, Ocala, Lake City, Inverness, and the rest of North Central Florida and North Florida. Accidents involving a car crash, truck wreck, and motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and criminal defense are all included in our practice.
Based on Jeffrey Meldon, founder of Meldon Law, over 40 years of helping accident victims get justice and a fair shake from the insurance companies, he has written the consumer guide book, Seven Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case. You can request your free, no obligation copy right now, or contact our office for your complimentary copy sent to you today.
Contact Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 immediately if you have been involved in a serious auto, truck, or motorcycle accident. We are in your community, have the experience and resources required to work towards obtaining a fair settlement for you – we are here to help you.