Personal injury law involves recovering damages after you have been in an accident. Insurance is supposed to cover medical bills and damages in such instances, but it often doesn’t go far enough. A personal injury lawsuit filed by experienced accident attorneys can help you get fair compensation while protecting your rights.
At Barnes & Cohen, we have been representing accident victims in Jacksonville, Florida, and Southeast Georgia for over 40 years. Below are 10 FAQs about personal injury law that are commonly asked at our firm. If there are other questions you have, please contact us directly, anytime.
1. When should I call a personal injury attorney after an accident?
You should call as soon as you have sufficiently recovered from the accident. The sooner you call, the sooner evidence can be collected and preserved for use in your case. In the event that your injuries make it difficult for you to talk, you can have a family member call our law firm on your behalf.
2. What’s involved in a personal injury lawsuit?
Once contact with an accident attorney has been established and all pertinent information collected, a personal injury lawsuit usually begins with negotiations between your lawyer and the insurer. In the event the negotiations fail, your lawyer can opt to file a civil lawsuit and ask a judge or jury to decide the issues in the case.
3. How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is generally two (2) years from the date of the accident in Georgia, and four (4) years in Florida. There are many exceptions. For example, suits against a cruise line may be subject to a one (1) year filing requirement!
When the claim is against a governmental entity, or agency, notice is required before a lawsuit can be filed. Failure to give notice within a specific mandated time period can rob you of the ability to ever pursue a claim. In Georgia, the requirement for notice of a claim against a city can be as short as six (6) months.
Failure to give timely notice of a claim can be just as fatal as missing the statute of limitations. Be aware that insurance policies can also require notice within a time period much shorter than the statute of limitations. When you call Barnes & Cohen, we’ll explain the notice requirements for your specific accident and exceptions that may give you more time to file a lawsuit. The consultation is FREE whether or not you hire us!
4. How much money can I get from a personal injury lawsuit?
The amount of compensation you can you get from a personal injury lawsuit depends upon numerous factors involved in your case. Was there a death? Was the victim a wage earner? What kind of rehabilitation might be required? How will your future be affected? Has your lawyer helped you obtain the medical care you need and obtained medical opinions that prove your injuries and support your claim for money damages? Every personal injury lawsuit is unique, and there is normally no legal yardstick that determines how much money you receive in a settlement or trial. A consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to get more information about potential damages you could recover in your case.
5. Why should I hire a personal injury attorney?
A skilled personal injury attorney will work hard on your behalf to protect your rights and collect the damages you deserve. Neglecting to hire legal representation – and specifically, attorneys who specialize in personal injury like Barnes and Cohen who have for over 40 years – leaves you at risk of being “out-lawyered” by insurance companies and the parties whose actions resulted in your injury. This can result in insufficient medical care and financial challenges, including bankruptcy. Never go it alone.
6. How do I pay my personal injury lawyer?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, instead of requiring up-front payment. They receive a set percentage of the settlement or award, and only get paid after the case has been won through a court decision or negotiated settlement. If the lawyers don’t win, they don’t get paid. If you are involved in an accident and a personal injury lawyer proposes that you pay for their legal services in advance, you should get another opinion. At Barnes & Cohen, there is no charge for an in-person or telephone consultation.
7. How long does it take to get a settlement?
The amount of time that it takes to reach a settlement or award depends upon the complexities of the case and the seriousness of the injury. Some cases can take years to resolve while others can be settled in a matter of weeks. A personal injury lawsuit that involves severe injuries or death may take longer to conclude, especially when liability is contested. There are no guarantees as to how long it will take for any case to close and settle. No one wants a case to drag on unnecessarily, but trying to settle too soon can result in less persuasive evidence of damages, and a recovery for less than you deserve.
8. Who pays my medical bills while I am waiting for a settlement?
When health insurance and automobile coverage are inadequate to pay your medical bills, many providers will agree to deferred payment until your case is resolved. This is more likely when medical providers have confidence in your attorney and trust that every effort will be made not to leave them hanging out on a limb. Being able to get medical care when insurance is lacking and funds are short, can make the difference between a successful lawsuit and a disappointing outcome.
9. Should I accept the settlement offered by the insurance company?
Under no circumstance, should you ever accept the initial settlement offer from an insurance company without the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer. The insurance company will typically not offer you an amount that is fair to your needs and will require that you sign away your right to sue for any further compensation. You should leave all communication with the insurance company to your lawyer.
10. Do I need a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit?
Yes, you really do need a professional accident attorney to help you with a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer has the training and experience he/she can use on your behalf, in order to reach a settlement or award befitting your case. Retaining a personal injury lawyer also prevents insurers from taking advantage of you.
Contact Barnes & Cohen Today for Help with a Personal Injury Claim
Don’t try to work your way through a personal injury situation without the help of a reputable accident attorney. Get in touch with the law firm of Barnes & Cohen for help and support, today. We serve all areas of Jacksonville, Northeast Florida, and Southeast Georgia.