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MIAMI/FORT LAUDERDALE PERSONAL INJURY LAW FAQ
We Are Often Asked These Questions at the Beginning of a Conversation with a Caller Who Has Been Injured and Is Deciding Whether to Use An Attorney for their Accident Case.
1. What is it going to cost me to have Gilbert and Smallman handle my car accident or other personal injury case?
There is absolutely no cost for our first conversation with you to review your car accident or other personal injury case. Once we both agree to move forward it is our policy to only receive a fee if we are able to settle or receive a jury award in your case. In other words, you pay us absolutely nothing until the other side pays.
In most cases you will pay us 33 1/3% of that final payment after adjusting for any fees or expenses. Any such fees or expenses will be clearly laid out to you during the course of the process. But even these fees are not collected unless and until the case settles.
2. How much am I going to get?
Every case is very unique in the amount of the final settlement or award by the judge or jury. We will be able to give you some approximate idea during our first conversation, but it will be very much an approximation. Minor issues having to do with the injuries, your response to the injuries, issues surrounding who was at fault, insurance company practices, and the whimsy of a jury all play into the final amount. We will always be looking to maximize your final payout. It is in both of our best interests to get the best possible dollar award.
3. How long is it going to take?
As with question #2, there is no way to be certain when a final resolution will take place and your cases settles. In some cases the insurance company can act quickly and the entire process might only take a few months or so. In other cases, especially where serious injuries and large amounts are involved, the case may drag on for a year or longer. Our goal will be to move the case as quickly as possible so that you can get on with your life.
4. What do I have to do?
We will need you to provide us with a complete and full description of every aspect of the incident, the injury, and the prognosis. We will also need your help in getting documents, pictures, and other evidence. You may be required to take a deposition. We will do the rest. You will not need to talk to the insurance company, their lawyers, or the other parties involved in the accident. We will take care of all of that.
5. How can I get more money in my pocket when I have to pay you 1/3?
Studies have shown that using a lawyer for a personal injury case will usually result in a settlement or court ordered award that is greater than what the individual could have done on his or her own. Because an experienced lawyer knows what the case is worth, how the insurance company claims adjusters and attorneys think, and have years of experience in negotiating with other lawyers, the ultimate result is commonly very positive for the injured party.
There are also side benefits to using an attorney. They do all the heavy lifting in the process, leaving you with time and energy to recover. We handle organizing your medical bills and assisting you in finding good physicians. A good lawyer is priceless to both your bottom line and your recovery from injury.
6. How am I going to pay the doctors and others while I wait?
We will work with your car insurance company, medical insurance provider, and with all health care providers as needed to reduce or eliminate any out-of-pocket expense to you while the case is being processed.
7. What happens if I was partially at fault or can’t prove that I wasn’t?
Florida does take into consideration whether both parties to any accident had some fault in causing the incident. Your total settlement will be reduced by the % of your fault. For example, if a jury awards $100,000, and finds you to be 20% at fault, the award will be reduced to $80,000.
8. Why should I use you rather than some other attorney?
There are many reasons that we could site, but we believe the one that should be the clincher is this: We are a smaller, boutique type law firm. Our two senior partners work with you one-on-one to prosecute your claim through to the final decision. You will have our cellphones and can reach us any time to discuss the case or ask for an update. In addition to our experience and abilities, we are accessible. Once again, being able to communicate with your lawyer is something you can’t put a price on.
9. What are the advantages of using an attorney instead of negotiating it myself?
First ask yourself these questions: Do you want to negotiate it yourself? Do you feel like you can do a better job of convincing a professional claims adjuster to give you the maximum payment, when his job depends on giving you little or nothing? Do you have any experience in negotiating high stakes deals that involve complex legal and factual issues?
Now imagine just sitting back while a trained and experienced professional with a pit bull mentality goes after the insurance company bent on maximizing the final check, so that you get the justice you deserve. And, sure, our check gets bigger as your check increases.
10. Will we be going to trial?
Car accident and other personal injury law cases rarely go to trial. Both sides recognize that the costs go up exponentially when there is a trial. Therefore it is commonly in the interest of both parties to work out an agreement that both agree would be close to what might have happened at trial, had there been one. However, if the other party will not compensate you justly, we will be ready to pick a jury and argue for you in court.
11. Are you going to just settle so you can get your 1/3 with as little work as possible?
What a great question. First of all, you are 100% in the driver’s seat with regard to the settlement, if there is one. We have a duty to bring every offer to you, even when we think it is far too low. We will give you our advice each time as to whether or not the offer is reasonable. Then you get to decide. It is more common for our clients to agree to settlements that we think are too low than the other way around.
Second, it is in our interest to maximize the final settlement. The more you get paid, the more we get paid. We are on the same team and work vigorously to meet everyone’s goals to their satisfaction and ours. Our business grows on referrals, so we want you to walk away as satisfied as possible so you will recommend us to your friends and family.