A serious injury can leave your life upended and your financial and personal well-being in a state of uncertainty. You may be left temporarily or permanently disabled, struggling with pain and recovery, unable to work, and facing rising medical costs and other associated expenses. Your family may now lack a primary income earner. If someone else’s negligence caused your injury, you should not have to deal with these costs and financial burdens on your own. If you were hurt in an accident on the job, in a public place, on the road, or on someone else’s property, you might have a claim for recovery.
The personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., has decades of experience securing monetary recovery for Florida accident victims. We fight for your right to compensation, whether it comes from insurance companies, negligent defendants, employers, or anyone else who should compensate you for your injuries. We take a results-oriented approach, working to ensure our clients get the damages they deserve so they can focus on recovering from their injuries. Our southern Florida personal injury attorneys work to ensure that our clients and their families can get their lives back on track after a serious accident. We serve clients who have been injured in a wide variety of accidents and circumstances.
Recovering Damages for All Types of Personal Injury Claims
The personal injury team at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. can help you recover from a negligent party if you have suffered any injury. Power tools, vehicles and industrial machinery can all lead to serious injuries and death. A property owner’s negligence may have contributed to an attack that injured you. Auto defects can lead to specific injuries. Whether the injury resulted from a car accident, an elevator collapse, a slip & fall, or an animal attack, if someone else’s negligence hurt you, you deserve to be compensated.
We help Naples personal injury victims recover compensation for a wide variety of injuries, including the following:
- Head and brain injuries, including those caused by lack of oxygen to the brain or a blow to the head.
- Traumatic brain injuries ranging from mild to moderate to severe. The ramifications can include memory loss, cognitive impairment, and personality changes.
- Neck & Back Injuries: These can range from debilitating disc injuries to paralysis.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: When the spinal cord is damaged, paralysis (paraplegia, hemiplegia, quadriplegia) can change your life forever.
- Broken Bones/Internal Injury: Severe fractures and damage to organs can require multiple surgeries and long periods of rehabilitation.
- Burn Injuries: Accidental fires, explosions, electrical charge and chemical exposure are some of the causes of burn injuries. Electrical accidents can result in internal and external burns throughout the body. Recovery can be long and painful, often requiring skin grafts and reconstructive surgery.
- Wrongful Death: Our lawyers represent the survivors of those who died because of another’s negligence or carelessness.
- Life Care Planning: We consult with medical experts and economists to determine the lifetime costs of catastrophic injuries.
Serving Clients Injured in All Types of Accidents
The dedicated personal injury lawyers at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., have helped clients hold negligent parties liable across all types of personal injury claims. We bring claims against negligent drivers, employers, vehicle manufacturers, insurance providers, trucking companies, building manufacturers, real estate owners and managers, local governments, homeowners and renters, and anyone else whose negligence may have contributed to accidents that injure our Florida clients. We will not rest until you and your family receive the compensation you deserve.
What is the Personal Injury Claim Process?
Will your personal injury case settle out of court, or will it go to trial? When will you get your settlement, and what to do you have to do to get it? Read on for a brief overview of the typical personal injury claim process in Florida, and call The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., if you’ve been hurt in a car, truck or other motor vehicle accident in Naples, Fort Myers or Orlando.
Take care of the scene of the accident. Before you leave the scene of the accident, you’ll want to exchange information with the other driver, call the police, and collect evidence by taking pictures and talking to witnesses. These are the first steps in building a case and documenting your personal injury claim.
Follow your doctor’s orders. If you are under the care of a doctor or are being sent to physical therapy, be sure and keep all your appointments and do what the doctor says. As you start to feel better, you might feel like skipping an appointment or two and getting back to your normal routine. Your doctor has prescribed a course of treatment for a reason, and it’s important to stick with it for the best results medically. It can also be damaging to your claim if you don’t complete your treatment.
Enter negotiations. Once your doctor declares that you are “medically stationary” or have reached a point of “maximum medical improvement,” your lawyer will be ready to begin settlement talks with the insurance company. A settlement before this time might be premature, as your medical bills and prognosis would not be fully known.
File a lawsuit. Even if you are still in negotiations, it could be important to file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations. You may have as much as four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, but this period differs depending on the type of accident, the type of injury, and the nature or status of the defendant. Missing the statute of limitations can mean the end of your claim, so it’s better to be on the safe side and file sooner rather than later.
Filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean you are going to court. A settlement can still occur at any time, including right up to the night before trial, after it has begun or even after a verdict. Pursuing litigation shows the other side you are serious and sets you up for the best settlement, and it also positions you for trial if this step becomes necessary.
Discovery. The insurance company may have admitted liability, so you are only fighting over the appropriate amount of damages, or they may have denied that their insured is liable to you at all. Either way, the next step after filing a lawsuit is to enter a period known as discovery. Here, each side gets information about the accident from the other side by requesting medical records, doctor and hospital bills, property repair bills, taking depositions of the parties and witnesses, hiring expert witnesses as needed, etc.
Pre-trial motions. An important part of the litigation process includes filing and responding to pre-trial motions by either party. Motions at this stage can result in a case dismissal, a judgment in favor of one party or the other on single or multiple issues (such as liability), or limit how the case will proceed.
Trial. This is where the parties present their case in court, introducing evidence and exhibits, questioning and cross-examining witnesses, and making legal arguments. The judge decides questions of law, while the jury listens to the facts. At the close of the trial, the judge instructs the jury on how to deliberate the case. The jury will decide whether the defendant is liable to the plaintiff and, if so, how much money damages are appropriate to award.
Post-trial motions. Even if the injured victim receives a favorable jury verdict, the other side might still move to set aside the verdict or modify the judgment based on one reason or another. Your attorney’s job might not yet be over if further argument over post-trial motions is required.
Appeal. Either party can appeal an unfavorable decision to a higher court. An appeal is not a new trial; there has to be some alleged error made at trial. The appeals court will review the trial transcript and listen to the parties’ arguments on why the verdict should be affirmed, reversed or modified. An appeals court could also order a new trial if warranted.
Collect the judgment. If a jury ruled in your favor and awarded you a money judgment, you’ll still need to collect and enforce that judgment. Hopefully, the defendant is an insurance company that will simply write a check, and no further action is required. But if your case went against the negligent party directly who didn’t have insurance, your lawyer might need to take extra steps to collect the judgment, such as attaching the defendant’s property and executing liens.
What is My Case Worth?
When negotiating a settlement, in the back of the negotiators’ minds is what a jury might award at trial. Most cases settle without going to trial, but it’s crucial to evaluate the case in terms of a trial. That’s why the best results are gained by personal injury lawyers with actual trial experience. Here are some of the factors we consider at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., in Naples and Fort Myers, as we evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our client’s case and come up with an appropriate settlement amount.
What is the plaintiff’s injury like? Like it or not, juries often evaluate injuries on how visible and apparent they are. It’s one thing to bring in experts to describe how a rear-end collision has damaged muscles and tendons in the neck and back; it’s quite another to display x-rays and photographs of broken, dislocated bones. Juries consider the graphic nature of an injury, along with the costs of treatment and the impact an injury has on the person now and into the future.
Is the injury victim a good witness? If a case goes to trial, the victim will likely need to testify about the accident in court or at a deposition. If the victim appears trustworthy, sympathetic and articulate, he or she might make an appealing witness, and the insurance company would be more reluctant to go to court. The impact of the injury on the victim’s occupation or lifestyle is another important point in evaluating the strength of the victim’s case.
What is the negligent party like? Likewise, does the at-fault driver appear sympathetic or defensive and uncaring? Did the driver cause the crash through recklessness or just carelessness? Was the driver distracted, drunk, or blind with road rage? Is a truck accident the fault of a greedy corporation or trucking company that failed to maintain its fleet in a safe condition, despite repeated warnings? How a jury might view the defendant is an essential factor in evaluating the case and its settlement value.
Does the plaintiff share any of the fault? Florida’s personal injury law follows a rule of pure comparative negligence. Any percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff will cause a proportionate reduction in any financial recovery. If the injury victim was speeding, distracted, or not wearing a seat belt, these factors could negatively impact a potential settlement or jury verdict.
In addition to evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a case, it’s important to calculate the damages as accurately and objectively as possible. Economic losses (medical bills, lost wages) can be calculated based on costs already incurred as well as projected costs into the future. It is sometimes necessary to hire experts to help in this calculation. Noneconomic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life) are generally based on the economic costs. Typically, plaintiffs’ lawyers and insurance companies assign a multiplier to the case – a number between one and five, depending on the severity of the accident and injury and its impact on the victim. That number is multiplied by the economic damages to get a figure for noneconomic damages. The parties may disagree over the calculation of economic damages or the proper multiplier to apply. These matters need to be worked out to reach a settlement and avoid a trial.
It’s also important to consider whether punitive damages might apply to the case. Punitive or exemplary damages are awarded when a defendant’s conduct was willful, malicious or especially reckless, showing disregard for other people’s safety. For example, punitive damages might be appropriate in the case of an extremely drunk driver or a speeder who ignored multiple red lights and stop signs before crashing into the victim. Likewise, a jury may have no sympathy for a trucking company with a long history of safety violations that continued to put the public at risk. Punitive damages are harder to prove in court, but they can be very costly to the defendant, who will want very much to avoid being liable for these damages.
Trusted Advice and Representation For Naples Personal Injury Victims
If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed by someone else’s negligence in Naples, Orlando, or throughout Florida, reach out to a dedicated car accident lawyer for help. Call the seasoned and dedicated personal injury legal team at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., at 239-649-8050 today for a free consultation to learn whether you may be entitled to compensation after your Florida personal injury.