If you have been hurt for any reason, it may be possible to collect compensation from the person or entity responsible for causing your injuries. Compensation may be able to help pay medical bills, recoup lost wages or reimburse you for other losses related to another party’s negligent behavior. Let’s take a closer look at what you should know about filing a personal injury case and how a Martin County personal injury attorney can help you throughout the legal process.
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What Types of Cases Might a Martin County Personal Injury Lawyer Accept?
There are many different types of personal injury cases that an attorney would likely help you with. For instance, if you slip and fall at a grocery store or restaurant, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The same might be true if you were bitten by a cat, dog or other dangerous animal or if you were injured while playing football at the park. Finally, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident.
What Should You Know Before Pursuing Legal Action in Martin County?
In the state of Florida, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, your attorney will likely take this step on your behalf the day that he or she is hired. This is done to preserve your right to sue, which may provide you with extra leverage during settlement talks.
Of course, it does not mean that you have to resolve the matter in court. As a general rule, personal injury cases are settled outside of court, and this is because doing so may be beneficial for both sides. You benefit because resolving a case outside of court is generally faster and easier than doing so at trial. The defendant wins because there is no need to admit guilt as part of a settlement, and the terms of the deal are kept out of the public record.
There are circumstances that may allow you to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations would otherwise have passed. For instance, if you are hurt as a minor, you typically have two years after reaching the age of majority to take this step. Furthermore, the statute of limitations may toll in the event that you are incapacitated, incarcerated or declared mentally incompetent for any reason.
Finally, before pursuing any type of legal action, it’s important to have a good idea as to whether you can prove that another party was negligent in causing your injuries. In most cases, any attorney that you consult with will first review your case to determine if your claim has any merit. If it doesn’t, he or she will likely decline to take your case. Therefore, if an attorney has agreed to represent you, there is a chance that a defendant may be negligent.
What Are the Elements of Negligence?
There are multiple elements that you’ll need to prove if you hope to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. The first thing that you’ll need to establish is that the defendant knew or should have known that a hazardous condition was present.
Let’s say that you were hurt after slipping on a wet floor at the grocery store. In this scenario, you would need to prove that whoever owned or managed the establishment should have known that the floor was slippery. Furthermore, you would need to show that nothing was done to remedy the condition.
In this hypothetical situation, you might claim that the defendant failed to put down a rug or place a warning sign by the wet spot. If you pointed out the issue to an employee prior to your fall, you may also want to point that out in the event that nothing was done to remedy the situation. This would likely verify that more could have been done to avoid your accident.
Finally, you will need to prove that the defendant’s actions caused you to incur a financial loss. For instance, if you went to the hospital after getting hurt, you would likely be given a bill for services rendered. In most cases, this would be enough to prove that a financial loss was incurred.
Florida Is a Comparative Negligence State
The state of Florida uses a comparative negligence standard when allocating liability in a case. What this means is that you are typically allowed to collect damages even if you were deemed mostly responsible for an accident. Let’s say that you were assigned 10% of the liability in your case, and you were ultimately awarded $100,000 in a settlement. In that scenario, you would receive $90,000 from the defendant. If you were found to be 75% liable for your injuries, you would receive $25,000 from the defendant.
Why Might You Be Held Liable for an Accident?
The law says that property owners, motorists and others have a duty of care toward others. This is why you may be entitled to compensation if you are injured as a result of another person’s irresponsible behavior. However, the law also says that you have a duty to take reasonable steps in an effort to keep yourself free from harm.
If you abdicate this responsibility, it may have an impact on the outcome of your personal injury case. For instance, let’s assume that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol when your vehicle was struck by a vehicle making a left turn. In such a scenario, the defendant may be able to successfully claim that you likely would have been able to take evasive actions if you were not impaired.
In the event that you were hurt after slipping on a wet floor, a defendant may avoid total liability by claiming that you were wearing inadequate footwear when you fell. Alternatively, the defendant might claim that the accident might have been avoided had you not been on your phone when it happened.
Be Careful About What You Say to Others About Your Case
It may be tempting to talk about your case on social media, in emails sent to friends or during informal chats with your coworkers. However, it is generally in your best interest to avoid talking about your case to anyone other than your attorney. This is because anything that you say to your attorney is usually considered confidential, which means that you don’t have to worry about anyone else hearing what you have said.
Conversely, if you post details about the case on social media, those posts can be used against you. Ideally, you will assume that the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer and those who support that person will be on the lookout for any words, pictures or other evidence that might reduce their liability.
Your legal advocate should be able to provide advice about how to use social media while your case is pending. This person will also likely be able to provide advice regarding how to talk to your insurance company or others who ask for a statement. If you are deposed as part of a settlement proceeding or personal injury trial, your attorney will typically sit in during the deposition.
How Else Might a Martin County Personal Injury Attorney Help With Your Case?
A personal injury attorney will likely spend time searching for evidence that might help you obtain a favorable settlement or favorable jury award. Evidence may be collected through social media posts made by the defendant or by getting statements from witnesses who may not have come forward in the immediate aftermath of your accident.
It’s also possible that an attorney will go back to the site where you were hurt to get more information. Finally, your legal representative may review cellphone records, toxicology reports or other documents that might prove that you were hurt because of a defendant’s negligent behavior.
Your attorney may be able to identify additional defendants in your case. For example, if you were hurt in a car accident, the other driver who was involved in the crash might be liable for damages. However, if poor road design played a role in the accident, a government agency may also be responsible for allowing potholes or other defects to occur.
Finally, a legal adviser can review any settlement offers that you receive to determine if it is worth accepting. This person will also answer any questions that you have about your case or take other steps to ensure that you are able to make an educated decision about how to resolve the matter.
If you have been hurt for any reason, it’s generally in your best interest to seek treatment as quickly as possible. After seeing a doctor, you should contact an attorney who will be able to review your case and develop a strategy aimed at holding those who hurt you accountable for their actions. Typically, personal injury attorneys do not charge for consultations and are paid a percentage of whatever you receive from the defendant in your case.