Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What Might the Defense or the Insurance Company Do to Try and Deny My Florida Slip and Fall Claim?

    Don’t let your insurance company fool you – they’re not in the business to give you a fair settlement for your slip and fall claim; they’re in the business to make (and keep) money.

    Claims Adjusters Use Five Common Tactics to Deny Your Claim

    1. Denying Liability

    Adjusters are notorious for trying to direct all the blame for an injury on the person who is hurt. It can be particularly difficult to prove negligence of a property owner in slip and fall cases because it is easy to put some blame on the victim.

    Their main goal is reducing the amount of money their company pays out for claims. A great way for them to do that is by taking advantage of Florida’s Comparative Fault Law which reduces the amount of any award at trial by the percentage of fault placed on the injured person. Even if you haven’t filed a lawsuit, insurance adjusters know this rule will apply in a trial so they apply it to your claim.

    Whether you slipped on a wet floor or fell through a rotten floorboard, the adjuster will likely question your decisions such as your choice of footwear, whether you held a handrail, your pace of walking or running, what you were carrying and where you were looking. They will argue that whatever caused your injury was open and obvious so that any reasonable person would have avoided it.

    2. Recorded Statements

    You’ll be pressured abruptly to give a recorded account of how you were injured, and often in the haste, you’ll admit to things that can harm your Florida slip and fall claim and may not even be true.

    They will ask you questions like, “how could you have avoided the fall?” and “why didn’t you…?” all to find ways you could have avoided the incident, without discussing the danger of the slippery floors or the sudden and unmarked change in elevation. They also use double negatives and ask questions that are worded so as to confuse you.

    It is smart to want to report what happened to the property owner or fill out an incident report after a fall, but do not talk to anyone from the insurance company before speaking to an attorney! Your attorney can typically answer the adjuster’s questions for you or with you so you don’t fall into one of these classic traps.

    3. Signing Medical Authorizations

    By signing a medical authorization you’re giving the defense access to your medical history, meaning they can look for related past injuries and argue your current injuries were pre-existing.

    Signing a medical authorization is a bad idea even when you don’t have a history of similar injuries. Why? Think about the last time you reviewed your medical chart. Likely, you have never even thought about it.

    We review all of our clients’ charts and often find things which are totally false or a slight misstatement which can hurt an insurance claim. One of our favorite examples involves a client who complained to his doctor of being in such pain that he was unable to do anything other than lay on the couch after a collision. His doctor noted that in his medical records as “patient hurt back lifting couch.” Just like any of us, when doctors don’t give their clients full attention, mistakes are made.

    4. Settlement on the Spot

    You may be offered an immediate settlement (which will most likely be far too little to compensate you for all your damages) and asked to sign a full release. If you do this without consulting your attorney first, you may be signing away your rights to seek compensation at a later time.

    Injuries tend to worsen before they improve. A swollen ankle you think will heal with time may be broken or require surgery to repair a torn ligament. When an adjuster offers to settle with you right away, you should be cautious. Know that offer will likely still be on the table in a few weeks or months after you are sure you don’t need further care.

    We make it a practice to never accept a settlement for less than the full policy limits on behalf of our clients unless they are done with their required medical treatment and know what future care they will need. Imagine how devastating it is for people who accept $1,000 because they think it’s a great deal only to need surgery in a few months and not be able to afford it. Don’t let that happen to you. Always contact an attorney before accepting anything.

    5. Persuading You NOT to Hire an Attorney

    The claims adjuster will try to convince you that they’re committed to getting you a fair settlement, and you don’t need an attorney. They will seem very kind and considerate on the phone. They just want your claim to go away as quietly and for as little money as possible.

    The truth is, without an attorney on your side, you probably won’t have a very good idea of what’s fair in a settlement offer or not, if you even get one. Don’t just take the insurance company’s word as truth. Whether your slip and fall claim is outright denied or you get an offer, seek a second opinion from an experienced personal injury attorney.

    If your claim is really simple enough that you can get a comparable settlement on your own, most attorneys will let you know up front.

    Have You Been Injured In A Slip And Fall Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a slip and fall accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.

  • What are Motorized Scooters and Mopeds?

    Motorized scooters and mopeds are generally two wheeled vehicles which are registered with the state of Florida, having a gas engine with 50cc or less or 2 brake horsepower or less with an automatic transmission. Mopeds may also be manually pedaled. In order to operate legally, they require at least a class E driver’s license and tag/registration.

    Have You Been Injured On A Scooter, Moped, Golf Cart Or ATV?

    You've been hurt in a vehicle accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.

  • What is a Traumatic Brain Injury & What are the Consequences?

    A traumatic brain injury (TBI) results from a traumatic event effecting the head and brain. This results from a direct blow to the head or significant force to the brain as in a sudden acceleration/deceleration. TBI produce symptoms including visual disturbance, confusion, dizziness, headache, tinnitus (ringing of the ear), lack of energy, sleep disturbance, mood instability, attention deficit, difficulty with concentration, and a loss of sense of trust.

    What Type of Accidents Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)?

    The National Institute of Health reports half of all traumatic brain injuries,TBI, are caused by car collisions, motorcycle crashes and bicycle accidents. Among older people, falls are the leading cause.

    Which Age Groups are the Highest Risk for TBI?

    The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports the two age groups at highest risk for traumatic brain injury are children ages 4 and under and young adults, 15-19 years of age.

    What are the Long Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were: improving memory and problem solving; managing stress and emotional upset; controlling one’s temper; and improving one’s job skills.

    BI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

  • How Should I Handle an Insurance Adjuster if They Should Try to Contact Me?

    When you file a claim with an insurance company you’ll be contacted by an adjuster working on behalf of the company. If you are filing a claim against more than one party or your accident included several vehicles, you may be dealing with several insurance adjusters. Before speaking to any insurance adjuster you should hire a personal injury lawyer to advise you.

    The statements you give to any insurance adjuster are almost always used against your claim. Even an insurance adjuster from your own insurance company is only looking out for their own company’s interests. They want to ensure that they pay out the smallest settlement possible and will even try to get your claim denied completely.

    An insurance adjuster is trained to get you to admit fault for your personal injury accident through careful questioning and prodding during phone interviews. Never allow an insurance adjuster to record a phone call, and instead tell the insurance adjuster that all communication will be handled through your attorney. That’s another advantage of hiring a personal injury lawyer to work on your case; your attorney can deal with the insurance adjusters for you, ensuring you don’t say anything that could harm your injury claim.

    How Can A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Deal With Insurance Adjusters?

    An experienced  lawyer should be very accustomed to dealing with insurance adjusters and understand their attempts to damage the facts of your claim. Many clients who are deserving of compensation for their personal injury claims have found themselves out of luck after a recorded statement phone interview with a crafty insurance adjuster.

    Before speaking to an insurance adjuster, request a free copy of my consumer guide, The Five Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case or contact Jim Dodson Law to schedule a free consultation at 727-446-0840.

  • What Do I Need to Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida and ERISA When it Comes to an Accident?

    Uninsured motorist coverage in Florida will provide protection if you are involved in a car accident caused by a driver who does not have enough bodily injury liability insurance to pay the full value of your claim. Part of your bodily injury claim may include medical expenses not paid by your personal injury protection (PIP.) Uninsured motorist coverage protects you and the occupants of your vehicle by paying for required medical treatment.

    Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida and ERISA Laws

    If your insurance agent advised you to skip uninsured motorist coverage in Florida or to buy low limits because you have good employer sponsored health insurance, you may want to think twice. Many employer-sponsored health insurance plans which pay your required medical expenses resulting from a car accident would have the right to be fully reimbursed if you won a Florida personal injury claim. This could leave you empty-handed.

    The Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA laws) has made it easier for many employer-sponsored health insurers to get fully reimbursed from your settlement. ERISA laws override Florida laws which would prevent such full reimbursement.

    ERISA laws give the health insurer the right to include statements pertaining to full and complete reimbursement in policy documents. In addition, most all health insurance plans, even those not covered by ERISA laws, also have reimbursement rights including Medicare and Medicaid.

    The bottom line is that you will have to repay medical expenses paid by your health insurer if you win a settlement. Your only protection for full recovery is purchasing adequate uninsured motorist insurance coverage so that reimbursement of these liens doesn’t eat up all your settlement.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • Can I Settle My Florida Personal Injury Case on My Own without an Attorney?

    By all means, if you’ve been injured in a car accident in Florida and you want to settle your personal injury case on your own without an attorney, you can.

    It is your choice whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you. Chances are, though, if you try to settle your case on your own, you’ll end up frustrated, overwhelmed, and worst of all, with an inadequate settlement that won’t cover the extent of your expenses.

    That’s because personal injury claims involve insurance adjusters, who are typically out to undervalue your claim, in order to keep their company’s budget in check. If you plan to go it alone , you’d better clear some space in your schedule, because there are numerous hurdles you’ll have to cross to even get to the part in your claim where you reach a settlement, if one is offered at all.

    Tasks a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You with After Your Accident

    • take over all communications with the insurance companies on your behalf;
    • analyze both your and other parties insurance policies to determine your legal options;
    • gather evidence and records to begin building your injury claim;
    • contact witnesses and get statements;
    • work with accident re-constructionists or other experts to help defend your claim;
    • negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement; and
    • if necessary, take your claim to court as a formal lawsuit.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer in Florida?

    You Will Never Write Us a Personal Check

    That’s correct! One of the questions we are asked most frequently is “will it cost me money out of pocket” to hire a lawyer for my car accident case in Florida. We guarantee that you will never write us a personal check for attorney’s fees or expenses.

    All of the work we do for you will be done on a contingency fee arrangement. This means you will not make any payment to us until we settle your case. Our fee and any expenses are paid at the time your case is successfully settled and come from the settlement money.

    All lawyers in Florida are required to put their contingency fee agreement in writing for each client to sign. You can feel completely at ease about this with our exclusive “No Fee Promise,” which we put in writing so you can look it over, before we even meet. How many other lawyers do this for their clients? And, you’ll have your own copy along with your other documents when you hire us to handle your case.

    Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer will help you know what to do and what not to do after a serious car accident. It is the best way for you to maximize your financial recovery from the insurance companies who may owe you money. That’s why we are offering a free report, If You Don’t Hire an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.

  • Do You Limit Your Practice to Personal Injury? How Many Years have You Practiced and Have You Handled Cases Like Mine?

    Not all personal injury lawyers are alike. And personal injury law is too complex for someone who just dabbles in it. Experience counts. It takes years of handling injury cases and of negotiating with insurance companies before a lawyer understands the tactics and strategies.

    Here are some other questions you might want to ask a personal injury attorney before hiring them:

    How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer in Florida?

    What is Your Rating on Martindale.com and AVVO.com?

  • What is Your Rating on Martindale.com and AVVO.com?

    You want a lawyer rated AV Preeminent on Martindale, the most respected nationwide peer review lawyer rating services. Look for a lawyer with a 10 Superior rating on AVVO, another nationwide rating service.

    Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer Jim Dodson's Accolades

    Clearwater personal injury attorney, Jim Dodson was chosen as one of Tampa’s top-rated lawyers in Tampa Bay Magazine’s special publication, Tampa’s Top Rated Lawyers 2012 Edition. To be chosen for the Tampa Bay Magazine feature article, an attorney must be listed in Martindale-Hubbell as AV Preeminent. This is the highest peer review rating a lawyer can earn. Jim also has the highest possible ratting on AVVO.com.

    Here are some other questions you might want to ask a personal injury attorney before hiring them:

    How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer in Florida?

    Do You Limit Your Practice to Personal Injury?

  • What is a Contingency Fee and Why is it Used in Accident and Injury Cases?

    There are two ways for a lawyer to be paid by a client for the work they perform. They can charge a client an hourly rate or use a contingency fee. With an hourly rate, a client is billed each month for each hour the lawyer works. Those bills must be paid each month whether the client recovers on their claim or not.

    How Do Contingency Fees Help Personal Injury Clients?

    The contingency fee was created to allow the average person access to the lawyer of their choice without the financial pressure of hourly billing. Under the contingent fee, the lawyer has the risk of not being paid if the case does not result in their client being compensated.