Answers to the questions that keep you up at night

  • How does your lawyer get paid?

    Matters involving personal injury and wrongful death are handled on a contingency fee basis. No fee is charged unless a recovery is made for the client. In the event of a recovery the attorney's fee is a percentage of the recovery, a percentage limited by The Florida Bar. Costs are commonly advanced by the lawyer and are recaptured from the recovery.

    In other matters, attorney's fees may be based upon an hourly rate, a stated flat fee, a contingent hourly fee or a hybrid combination of these methods.

  • What are statutes of limitations?

    Statutes of limitations are time limits set by law to restrict the period of time for bringing a legal action regarding different types of cases. The reason for Statutes of Limitations is to bring closure on events so people can move on without fear of legal action beyond a certain point and also to prevent cases from arising years later that are founded on missing evidence or poor memory. Statutes of limitations often vary from state to state.

    Common Statutes of Limitations in Florida are 1 year (for wages), 2 years (Medical or Legal Malpractice; Wrongful Death), 4 years (injuries from negligence), and 5 years (Contract claims).

    However, other time limitations might apply. For example, most Cruise Lines must be provided specific timely notice of a claim within 6 months and must be sued within 1 year. These limitations periods are provided for in the cruise contract, not in the Florida statutory law.

  • How does the burden of proof differ for different cases?

    For cases outside of the criminal law venue, the Burden of Proof is with the party or person making the claim. In civil cases, such as cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, and business and commercial litigation, winning requires that your case be proved by a "preponderance of the evidence," which means that over 50% of the believable evidence must be in the plaintiff's favor. Though the Burden seems low it should not be taken lightly. Adequate and thorough preparation on the part of your lawyers is necessary.

    Other types of cases might involve Burdens of Proof such as Clear and Convincing, or Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

  • What are the differences between auto accident, premises liability, wrongful death and other cases?

    Proving liability in an auto accident involves establishing who was at fault for the accident. Any number of parties could be held liable, including a reckless or negligent driver, the owner of the vehicle at fault, the automobile manufacturer that produced a defective vehicle, the company employing a negligent driver, or the state or city if dangerous road conditions were the underlying cause of the accident.

    In a premises liability suit, the fact of an injury occurring on someone else's property is only the beginning of the story. Liability of the property owner, property manager, a tenant or even a vendor or contractor must be evaluated. Whether the condition or defect existed for a period of time and how it was caused are important facts that must be thoroughly investigated.

    Wrongful Death claims can result in a variety of ways including a motor vehicle accident and dangerous premises. The lawful survivors of a wrongful death victim are represented through the Personal Representative of the Estate of the victim. The Personal Representative can authorize a lawsuit on behalf of the Estate itself and for each lawful survivor.

  • How do cases compare in value or how do you value claims?

    Many factors go into determining the value of a claim and to that degree there is no one simple answer to this question. Compensation for damages are sometimes governed by Florida law. Monetary evaluations include the type and severity of injury as well as the impact of the injury, the review of jury verdicts and/or settlements for similar claims and injuries, and the professional experience of your lawyer. For non-injury claims there is often a value based upon the circumstances of the claim or a value can be determined by a forensic accountant.

  • What is the time frame involved before receiving a recovery?

    The time frame will vary for different cases, depending on whether the case can be settled out of court through negotiation, mediation or arbitration or whether a long protracted trial will be necessary to arrive at resolution. If the case goes to trial, a trial date assignment is based on openings in the court's docket and attorneys' availability as well as the order in which our trial date request was entered in comparison to the number of cases that are waiting to be assigned trial dates. Whether either side has entered an appeal after judgment may also affect the time frame of receiving a recovery. Injury cases are often not "ripe" to resolve until the full effects of any residual injury are known and determined.

  • What stages are involved in claims or cases?

    Lawsuit avoidance is often in a client's best interest because it keeps the costs and attorney's fees to a minimum. Under most circumstances, investigation, claim presentation and negotiation are the first stage attempts to resolve legal disputes. A pre-suit mediation may provide an opportunity to help resolve a claim. If a lawsuit must be filed in Court, "discovery" is the next stage, which involves exchanging evidence with the other parties and includes answering interrogatories and providing testimony at depositions. After the plaintiff and defendant have both completed the discovery process, the case will proceed to trial. Either party may attempt to negotiate a settlement at any of the various stages involved in a claim. Settlements, whether before suit or after, are far more common than trials in that they provide greater control to the client, with less cost and less time investment.

  • What is ADR or alternative dispute resolution and when is it used?

    ADR or alternative dispute resolution is an alternative approach to trial where parties use mediation or arbitration to arrive at a fair settlement outside of court.

  • What evidence or documentation and investigation are required for a case?

    Evidence or documentation required for a case includes medical records, copies of medical bills, reports from witnesses of the accident or injury, testimony of experts regarding circumstances surrounding the accident or injury, photos of the accident (including vehicles) or injury scene, photos of the injury, and also physician testimony through deposition or in court, if needed.

    During our process of gathering evidence we will study the details to determine if further investigation of particular facts will be needed to prove your case. We may need to interview witnesses to obtain more detailed information regarding the accident or injury, have experts examine damaged vehicles or pose more specific questions to the physician or consult with specialists who can assist us in proving liability and in substantiating the value of the case.

  • Where does my case belong, in County or Circuit Court?

    The value of your claim will most likely determine which court hears your case. County Court cases involve claims of $15,000 or less. Cases involving claims greater than $15,000 are heard by Circuit Courts. Circuit Courts are higher-level courts and also hear appeals from County Court judgments. A case value of higher than $75,000.00 can result in the case being heard in a Federal Court.