Understanding the basics and preparing for your first meetingNovember 3, 2020
Gathering around the virtual table to celebrate the holidays with the team at Hancock LawDecember 22, 2020
Road safety is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Transportation. To make streets safer for drivers as well as pedestrians, cities are embracing different actions such as redesigning high-crash areas or lowering the legal alcohol concentration limit. Auto manufacturers are also doing their part by including features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, and backup cameras. However, even with these solutions in place, during the first six months of 2020, there were still over two million motor vehicle accidents with non-fatal medically consulted injuries in the United States. The cases related to accidents often can be quite difficult to resolve, which is why hiring a personal injury attorney, such as Kenneth Hancock of Hancock Law, may be necessary. In this blog, we cover how a personal injury attorney can help you in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Who does a personal injury attorney represent and how is a case assessed?
There are three factors we consider when assessing a case: liability, causation/damages, and coverage.
At Hancock Law, we represent individuals involved in an accident who are not at fault in any way. The most common type of personal injury case is a car accident, so this means the individual was not issued a ticket at the scene of the accident.
After assessing this first factor of liability, we then ask about causation and damages. What injuries did the accident cause? What damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, have occurred? When a personal injury attorney first takes on a case, we usually only know about the liability factor. Except for cases involving catastrophic injury or death, the full extent of injuries and damages is usually not known until later.
Last, we consider the number of available insurance coverages. What kind of coverage does the at-fault party have under his/her policy? What kind of coverage do you have under your own policy? Without insurance coverage, there is often no other way for someone to recover from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Why should someone visit an attorney after an injury?
A better question to ask yourself following an accident is, “Why not see a personal injury attorney?” At Hancock Law, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means we are only paid if there is a recovery. If you are worried about not having a case and it turns out you don’t have one, what harm has been done by seeking help from an attorney? If there is no recovery, you owe us nothing for our time or costs in the matter. The alternative is that you refuse to seek the help of an attorney following an accident and it turns out you do have a case…or at least you would have if you hired someone as your advocate.
You may not realize you have a case initially. Very serious injuries following an accident can be present, but the automatic reaction of most people is that the pain will go away. It is not long before you realize the pain is not only still there, but it is getting worse. Waiting to seek necessary medical treatment can have an extremely negative impact on both your physical condition and your case. It is in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney sooner rather than later.
The earlier we meet with potential clients, the earlier we can stress the importance of receiving accident-related medical treatment. Many people go to an emergency room and then stop any medical treatment because they become too busy with everyday activities. However, this gap in treatment can negatively impact a case. As far as the insurance companies are concerned, if you are not being treated by a physician then you are not hurt. It is very difficult to have a feasible case without continuous medical care. Accident-related treatment as recommended by doctors is key to a case.
What are the strategies for securing medical treatment if a person does not have health insurance?
This can be quite challenging, but often doable. The very first coverage that comes into play in a car accident is Personal Injury Protection coverage, often referred to as PIP or no-fault coverage. It provides $10,000 of coverage. This seems like a lot, but one visit to the emergency room can take a huge hit out of your PIP coverage. Once that coverage is gone, what then?
In a perfect world, your physicians would then bill your health insurer. But what if you don’t have health insurance? This should not come as a surprise, but your doctors want to get paid for their services. In the absence of health insurance, we can revert to a last resort. An agreement can be reached between the lawyer, the client, and the doctor where the doctor continues treatment in exchange for promise to be paid when the case resolves. This is a risky agreement for the doctor because he/she runs the risk of not getting paid until much later, if at all. It is also risky for the client because these medical bills are not subject to the large discounts that health insurance companies receive. Despite these risks, this is sometimes the only way for someone to get necessary medical treatment following an accident.
What type of outcome can you expect?
Determining your outcome is based on several different factors, some of which are not known until the end of your treatment regimen. For this reason, it is very difficult to know at the outset of a case what kind of result we might be able to get for our clients. With that being said, Florida law allows you to be compensated for two types of damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages consist of medical expenses and wage losses, both past and future.
- Past medical expenses are those which have been incurred and are outstanding, including any health insurance liens.
- Future medical expenses include the cost of future medical treatment as indicated by your treating physician(s). Because they are expenses that might happen in the future, they are a bit subjective.
- Past wage losses are surprisingly uncommon. If you are an employee, typically you plan your medical treatment around your job. There is almost always some missed work and missed pay, but because of paid time off the actual financial loss is nominal. If you are self-employed, past wages losses are keenly felt. For practical reasons, however, wage losses are hard to prove in the self-employment context unless you have an attorney experienced in doing so.
- There is technically no claim for future lost wages under Florida law. Rather, you can be compensated for loss of future earning capacity. These claims must be supported by expensive, expert intensive opinions.
Non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering, both past and future. There are a few sticking points to non-economic damages in a car accident case under the current Florida state law which make it vitally important to have a personal injury attorney as your advocate:
- First and foremost, you are only entitled to ask for non-economic damages where you sustain some type of permanent injury. An opinion about the permanency of your injuries must come from a physician.
- Second, non-economic damages are extremely subjective. There are no medical bills to “prove” how much your pain and suffering has cost you. For this reason, they are difficult to evaluate.
Hancock Law – the Personal Injury Attorney for You
When obtaining a recovery on behalf of our clients, Hancock Law’s goal is to:
- Manage expectations throughout the entire process by way of consistent, honest communication.
- Receive payment for all the client’s outstanding medical expenses and liens.
- Disperse the most amount of money possible based on the specific circumstances of the case.
No matter how big or how small your case may be, Hancock Law can help you to receive the settlement you deserve. Your initial consultation with Kenneth Hancock, an experienced and trustworthy attorney, will cover any unanswered questions and walk you through the recovery process. Mr. Hancock is a fifth-generation Floridian who handles cases in DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. However, he has also represented clients as far south as Miami and as far north as St. Augustine.
If you have a case you would like to discuss, please contact us today.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.