There is no requirement that a client reside in Florida. Since many injury victims are visitors, we are happy to consider representing them if appropriate.
The Statue of Limitations in a personal injury matter generally expires 4 years from the date the accident occurred. However, it may be less in certain type of claims such as medical malpractice, governmental or Federal Court actions. We are not providing a legal opinion as to what the time period is in your case. However, if no legal action is taken within the appropriate time limit, you will be forever prevented from taking legal action. Therefore, if you have any intention of pursuing a claim, you should seek the services and advice of an attorney, immediately.
The most important thing for you to do, quite simply, is to recover from your injury. The law requires injured people to “mitigate their damages.” In other words, the law requires you to do that which is necessary to improve your physical condition and recover from your injury.
For you, this may mean some, or all, of the following steps:
- Do not miss appointments with your doctor
- Attend physical therapy sessions as prescribed
- Do what your doctor tells you to do
- Follow your doctors advice with respect to work and leisure activities
Your lawyer will discuss the payment of your medical bills in detail with you. In summary, your medical bills may be paid by one of the following methods:
- Your own health insurance from your employment benefits
- Your own health insurance that you may have paid for personally
- Health insurance obtained by your spouse for your benefit or by your parents if you are under age and living with such parents
- Medical payments insurance coverage from your own automobile policy if you were driving your automobile and were involved in an automobile collision
- Medical payments insurance coverage from the person you were riding with if you were a passenger in an automobile that has automobile insurance coverage
- Your own personal funds if you were not insured and are able to pay medical bills as they are incurred.
- Workers’ compensation insurance if your injury occurred while you were working on the job and the injury occurred as a result of your employment
- The liability insurance coverage for the person, persons or company who caused your injuries. Such insurance coverage will most likely be paid at the time of settlement rather than during the period that you incur such medical bills
- Other possible sources
Depending on the nature of your case, your medical bills may be covered by any of the above possibilities. If there is no insurance coverage, your bills will be saved by you and your lawyer, and will be paid at a later date when and if your case settles.
Will the doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities wait for payment if I am unable to pay my bills as they are incurred?
In cases where there is no immediate method to pay medical bills as they are incurred, some doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities will wait to be paid for their services when the case is finally resolved by way of settlement or verdict in court. It is important to let medical providers know early in the process if you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred.
Lawyers typically have to withhold money from the settlement or court verdict to pay doctors and medical facilities. Many doctors and medical facilities require that the patient/client sign a form (usually called a subrogation or lien form) that allows the attorney to withhold enough money to pay medical bills directly from the insurance settlement proceeds.
A very important thing for you to do is to provide documentation of your medical bills, expenses and loss of income from your employment. The following is a list of things that will also help your lawyer with your claim.
- Return all phone calls promptly to your lawyer
- Read all correspondence from your lawyer
- Keep all appointments with medical facilities
- Maintain a file and record of medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the injury
- Keep a list of witnesses who may testify about your injuries or about the incident
- Take photographs as instructed by your attorney and maintain copies and negatives of such pictures.
- Notify your attorney immediately of any change of address, telephone numbers, marital status, change of employment or drastic change in your physical condition
- Answer all questions posed by your attorney truthfully and candidly
- Sign all forms requested by your attorney
Doctors, hospitals, employers and other establishments will not release personal information about you without your signed written authorization. It is against the law, in most instances, to release information about a person to anyone, including your lawyer, without formal documentation. Therefore, your lawyer will ask you to sign such authorization forms which will allow him or her to retrieve important information about you.
In almost all personal injury cases, your attorney will be paid by keeping a percentage or portion of the final settlement or court award resulting from your injury. The percentage will be discussed with you and will be the subject of what is called a contingent fee agreement. The law requires, for your protection and that of your lawyer, a written contract that specifies the fee he or she will charge so there will be no misunderstanding about how much your case will cost. Most contingent fee agreements provide that you do not have to pay your lawyer for his or her services unless, and until, the case is settled or is resolved by a court verdict in your favor. The agreement will provide that your lawyer will work diligently on your case in exchange for the percentage or portion outlined in the agreement.
The fee for your attorney is based upon his or her work, time, effort, and expertise. The lawyer's fee also encompasses certain office overhead such as secretarial time, rent, files, and other built in costs. However, there are also additional out of pocket expenses which are incurred specifically as a result of your case. Some of these expenses include the following:
- Fees that a doctor and hospital charge for medical reports
- Photocopy charges
- Long distance telephone calls
- Costs of photographs
- Reports or experts
- Litigation costs