An accident is by definition always unexpected. At Hancock Law, we understand that it is a confusing and upsetting time. Finding a personal injury attorney is something no one ever wants to do. After all, you’ll only need one if something bad has happened and you need someone with expertise on your side. That’s why we want to make it as easy as possible for you to understand what’s happening and what to expect. Here are some tips to help you.
Why hire a personal injury attorney?
This is one of the most common questions we get – and one of the most important to our clients.The biggest reason is compensation. Based on statements from clients who try negotiating directly with insurance companies without an attorney, offers to people who are represented by attorneys are higher than offers to those without counsel. That’s because personal injury attorneys are specialists. We know what you are entitled to under the law – and insurance companies know that we do! We’re there to make sure everyone plays by the rules. You see, an insurance company wants to settle the case for as little money as possible, whereas a personal injury attorney’s responsibility is to get you the best compensation possible under the circumstances within the confines of the law.
Is your case a good fit?
At Hancock Law, we specialize in specific types of personal injury cases. Broadly speaking, all injury cases are negligence cases. Negligence just means someone else did something unreasonable under the circumstances and caused injury to another. “Injury” can mean anything from soft tissue injuries, such as herniated discs or torn ligaments, to the worst injury possible: death.
Car accidents are by far the most common type of case, which is not surprising considering the amount of time many of us spend in our cars. A “car accident” case is when a person is struck and injured by someone else driving a vehicle. For example, getting rear-ended by a car while you are stopped at a red-light; a car swerving into a bike lane and hitting a cyclist; being hit by another driver while in a work vehicle. We also help people injured by commercial vehicles, such as dump trucks or tractor-trailers. This is a special category of car accident case because dump trucks and tractor-trailers have to follow very specific “rules of the road.”
Another category of cases we handle is premises liability cases. The most common type of premises liability case is where a dangerous condition exists in a business establishment, notice of the condition is not provided to the customer, the condition is left unresolved and an accident occurs resulting in injury. For example, a grocery store has a leaky freezer unit, knows about it, does not clean it up and does not provide “wet floor” notice to customers, and a customer is injured after slipping in a puddle of water in front of the leaky freezer. Premises liability cases are very challenging because Florida law in these kinds of cases is favorable to business establishments. It is very important to have a lawyer that is familiar with the kinds of landmines in a premises liability case.
Finally, we deal with business-to-business injuries – a type of case that you may not have thought about before. These are essentially negligence cases, but the at-fault party of the injured victim are both business instead of people. For example, one business in a strip mall catches fire causing damage/injury to a neighboring business. The “damage/injury” consists of physical property damage and lost business income for a period of time. These can be tricky cases because they usually involve claims with the victim’s insurance company AND the at-fault business’ insurance company.
There are a few categories of cases that Hancock Law DOES NOT currently handle: medical malpractice, workers compensation, product liability, environmental contamination, or tobacco-related cases. Although we do not handle these kinds of cases, we have attorney colleagues that do and we’re happy to make a solid, trust-based referral.
How do you know if you have a “good” case?
It is hard to tell in the very beginning whether a case is “good.” Because of many, many factors, a case that might appear to be good ends up being bad. Instead of making the “good” or “bad” decision at the outset, we focus on whether a case is feasible. There are two important criteria to determine if a case is feasible.
The first criteria hinges upon fault. In the context of this discussion, fault really means that you, the injured party, cannot be at fault for the accident. This is a hard and fast rule. In order to have a case, the other person must be at fault and it must be clear. No matter how badly you are injured, if the accident was your fault we simply don’t have a case.
The second criteria is that there must be some type of insurance coverage to pursue. It’s a sad fact that without insurance coverage, there is almost no way for injured victims to be compensated. Believe it or not, under Florida law, people are not required to have liability insurance. In a car accident case, this is known as bodily injury coverage, also known as “BI” or liability coverage. If someone causes a car accident and you are injured, you file a claim under that person’s bodily injury coverage. If that at-fault person has no BI coverage, then we look to see if the injured party has something called UM coverage, which is short for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If there is no UM and no BI, then there is no insurance to pursue. There are a few exceptions, but insurance is almost always required to obtain a recovery.
What to bring to your first meeting with us
We realize that many of our clients are suffering from physical and emotional damage when they come to see us, so we try to make it as easy as possible for you. We provide a checklist to help you prepare for our first meeting. In general, you need to bring a few key items to help us understand your case and have the information we need to proceed. This includes the following:
You deserve representation
It’s important to have someone looking after your interests. We work on a contingency fee basis – that means that our compensation is contingent on the outcome. If there is no recovery, then we get no fees and any costs we’ve paid are written off. We run into a lot of people who aren’t sure if they want to hire an attorney. What comes to mind are the cheesy TV commercials from the big firms tooting their own horn trying to make you believe they’ll get you a million dollars or that they’re “family” to be considered like your next of kin. Those can be presumptuous at best.
Next to getting immediate treatment for your injuries, hiring an attorney really should be on the top of your priority list. But if those cheesy commercials make you feel uncomfortable, call us. If you hire Hancock Law and there is no recovery, you’re none the worse for wear. You aren’t out any funds – you don’t pay us unless we obtain a settlement for you. The alternative is to not have an attorney, only to find out later that you needed one – a huge risk to your physical and financial wellbeing. When you call Hancock Law, you’ll get a meeting directly with Kenneth Hancock, a qualified attorney who is willing to answer all your questions honestly and thoroughly. Most of our cases are in DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee Counties, but we have cases as far south as Miami and as far north as St. Augustine. If you think you need a personal injury attorney, give us a call today to schedule an initial consultation.