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I do not own a car and live by myself in Florida and I was in my friend’s car but another car hit us and caused the accident; which insurance is responsible for my medical bills?

In Florida, the owner of a car is required to have no fault or personal injury protection (PIP) which pays 80 percent of the medical bills up to $10,000, regardless of fault for the owner. It also pays the same towards the medical bills of any resident relatives of the owner who do not own a car. It also pays for any passengers of the car that do not own a car nor live with a relative that own a car. Thus, in this scenario, you generally will qualify for PIP under your friend’s PIP coverage, since you were a passenger and don’t own a car nor live with a relative that owns a car.

I was walking in Florida when a truck hit me and I do not have health insurance; who pays the medical bills?

In Florida, most vehicles are required to have PIP (personal injury protection) coverage.  That coverage pays for medical bills following an accident.  If you own a car in Florida, under our no fault laws, that insurance would generally pay for your medical bills (usually 80 percent up to 10k of payments) in the above situation.  If you did not own a car but lived with a relative that owned a car, then that relative’s insurance would generally pay for you medical bills in the above situation.  If you did not own a car nor lived with a relative that owned a car, then you would generally qualify for PIP coverage from the vehicle that hit you.

If you have any questions about the above or were involved in an accident, please call Drucker Law Offices!

I just signed a contract for an injury case in Florida and want to cancel; can I?

Generally, you can discharge your lawyer at any point.  In fact, in a contingency fee agreement for an accident case in Florida, it states:

Any contingency fee contract must be in writing and you have three (3) business days to reconsider the contract. You may cancel the contract without any reason if you notify you lawyer in writing with three (3) business days of signing the contract. If you withdraw from the contract with the first three (3) days, you do not owe the lawyer a fee, although you may be responsible for the lawyer’s actual costs during that time. But, if you lawyer begins to represent you, your lawyer may not withdraw from the case without giving you notice, delivering necessary papers to you, and allowing time to employ another lawyer. Often, your lawyer must obtain a court approval before withdrawing from a case. If you discharge your lawyer without good cause after the three (3) day period, you may have to pay a fee for the work that the lawyer has done.

Thus, if you cancel within 3 days, then you do not owe that lawyer anything.  However, if you cancel after 3 days, then you may have to pay a fee to the lawyer for the work done, assuming you ultimately recover money.

Can I negotiate my personal injury lawyer contract?

Of course!   Generally, fees in injury cases in Florida (assuming the value of case is less than 1 million dollars; under the standard agreement the fees get reduced for resolutions above 1 million dollars) are 33 1/3 percent when a case resolves before a lawsuit and 40 percent after a lawsuit is filed where liability is denied in the initial pleadings (it’s 33 1/3 percent in litigation if the defendant acknowledges fault in the initial pleadings). To some degree, whether the lawyer will reduce fees will vary on many factors – the strength of the case, the amount of damages, whether the defendant is collectible, etc.  Thus, a small parking lot accident with contested fault would likely not garnish a fee reduction while a surgery case where fault is clear and the defendant has deep pockets would more likely get a fee reduction.

In fact, the Florida Bar requires contingency contracts in injury cases to have a statement of client’s rights attached and the first right states:

There is no legal requirement that a lawyer charges a client a set fee or percentage of money recovered in a case. You, the client, have the right to talk with your lawyer about the proposed fee and to bargain about the rate or percentage as in any other contract. If you do not reach an agreement with one lawyer, you may talk with other lawyers.

Does my lawyer have to return my calls in Florida in an accident case?

Generally, the answer to this question would be yes.  First, there are ethics rules that a lawyer act diligently and keep the client informed.  Further, in an accident case, there are the Statement of Client’s rights.  Number 9 of the statement of client’s rights says:

You, the client, have the right to ask your lawyer, at reasonable intervals, how the case is progressing, and to have these questions answered to the best of your lawyer’s ability.

So under that you have a right to talk to the lawyer about your case.  I generally give my clients my cellular phone.  Of course, it is possible that a client calls and I forget to call back.  But generally my clients are happy with my service and can even call my cellular phone if they can’t get me at the office.

In Florida, if a car runs a red light, does that car bear all (100 percent) of the fault for an accident?

First, it is important to understand that in Florida the negligence laws include comparative fault.  Under comparative fault laws, a jury can apportion fault between all parties (and even non-parties) to the lawsuit.

If there is proof that a car ran a red light, that would certainly suggest that that car is at fault and likely bears most of the fault.  However, that person may argue that the other vehicle (that had the green light) fault bears some fault.  The argument would be that the car could have avoided the accident, had they taken some precautionary measure.  Depending upon how the accident happened would give us some idea of whether this would be a strong or weak defense.

For example, if the car that ran the red light was hit by the other car towards to rear side of the car, then the argument would be that the car that ran the red light almost made it and thus the other car had time to veer out of the way and avoid the accident.  Of course, it would be up to a jury to determine the fault between the parties and they could do whatever they saw fit, based on the evidence.  On the other hand, if the car that ran the red light hit the side of the other car, then this same argument would be much, much weaker.