Personal Injury and Criminal Defense FAQ

What if the car accident was partially my fault? When do I have a legitimate premises liability claim? What is the first step I need to take after a dog bite? We answer questions like these and many more on our personal injury Frequently Asked Questions page.

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  • How Much Does A Personal Injury Attorney Cost?

    two people signing a contract

    How Much Does A Personal Injury Attorney Cost?

    The majority of personal injury attorneys in Florida will take a case on a contingency fee basis. In other words, the attorney gets paid a percentage of what he/she is able to recover for you. You will not need to pay anything up front. 

    Florida rules require A contingent fee agreement shall be in writing and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial, or appeal, litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery, and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. 

    Sample Percentage Agreements

    As compensation (attorneys’ fees) for services, the client hereby agree to pay said attorneys from the amount of money awarded by the Court or from the gross proceeds of any recovery the following fee, whichever is greater.                                   

    (a)        Before the filing of an Complaint:

    • 33 1/3% of any recovery up to $1 million; plus
    • 30% of any portion of the recovery between $ 1 million and $2 million; plus.
    • 20% of any portion of the recovery exceeding $2 million.

    (b)        After the filing of a Complaint:

    • 40% of any recovery up to $ 1 million; plus
    • 30% of any portion of the recovery between $1 million and $2 million; plus
    • 20% of any portion of the recovery exceeding $2 million.

    (c)        If all defendants admit liability at the time of filing their answers and request a trial only damages.

    • 33 1/3% of any recovery up to $1 million; plus.
    • 20% of any portion of the recovery between $1 million and $ 2 million; plus.
    • 15% of any portion of the recovery exceeding $2 million.

    Understand Your Rights As A Client

    Remember all contingent fee agreements must be in writing. In addition, before a lawyer enters into a contingent fee contract for representation of a client the lawyer shall provide the client with a copy of the statement of client’s rights and shall afford the client a full and complete opportunity to understand each of the rights as set forth therein.

    If You Have Questions About An Injury You Suffered

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • How Can a DUI Charge Be Proven?

    police car at night

    How Can a DUI Charge Be Proven?

    In Florida, the prosecutor must prove that you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while you either:

    • Had an unlawful blood alcohol content (BAC); of .08% or higher.
    • Your normal faculties were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

    Proof Offered by State Attorney in a DUI

    BAC is proven by:

    • Breath Testing results. Breath testing is done at the jail, you will be observed by a breath tech operator and he/she will submit a report with the breath test results, in addition to his/her observations of you and your answers to questions. 
    • Blood test results. If you are in an accident, blood may be drawn at the hospital or at the scene of the accident by a medical professional.  

    Normal faculties impaired proven by: 

    • Police officer observations. The officer's report will often describe driving patterns, behavior, field sobriety testing, statements made, evidence of drinking or drugs, and/or the smell of alcohol or marijuana.
    • Any statements made by you, including where you were prior to the stop, how much you had to drink or any admissions to being intoxicated. 
    • Any items seized from your vehicle or person, including alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia. 
    • If you provide a low BAC, you may be asked to provide a urine sample. If any drugs are detected, the State will argue that you were under the influence of said substances. 

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding a DUI in Florida

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.  

  • What is RDAP and How Can it Help a Federal Inmate?

    Barbed wire fence at prison

    Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP) 

    • A 500 hour program where inmates are placed in a class that lives together, separated from the general prison population.
    • Takes six to twelve months to complete.
    • Inmate must have (1) verifiable drug abuse problem (2) No ‘serious’ mental health issues (3) within 36 months of release (4) agree to participate (sign agreement) (5) appropriate security level.
    • Inmate cannot have a crime of violence. 

    ​A qualified attorney will request the Court to recommend RDAP and other programs in the Court's sentencing order. 

    Early Release Based on Successful Completion of RDAP

    Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 227(d), an inmate who is sentenced for a non-violent offense, has a substance abuse problem and successfully completes a residential drug abuse treatment program, may qualify for an early release not to exceed twelve (12) months   

    Inmates Who Are Not Eligible for Early Release

    • INS/ICE detainees.
    • Inmates with prior felony or misdemeanor convictions within 10 years of the sentencing date for their current case; for homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, kidnapping or child sexual abuse offenses. 
    • Inmates whose current offense has an element of physical force, carry, possession of a firearm, sexual abuse offenses. 
    • Current offense that by it’s nature or conduct present a serious potential risk or physical force against the person or property of another. 
    • Offenses for which a guideline enhancement was applied to the offense level for the use or threatened use of force or firearm.

    If You Have Questions Regarding A Federal Criminal Case

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online, or you can call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • Do I Need To Payback My Health Insurance?

    Hand Holding Stack of $100 Bills

    Do I Need To Payback My Health Insurance?

    The simple answer is often times "yes". The amount you owe will depend on the details of your insurance contract or certain provisions of state and federal law if you have Medicare or Medicaid. 

    Often times when someone is injured in an accident, their own health insurance will kick in and cover the cost for their medical care, as it should. Many personal injury cases could take months and often years to resolve. While both sides try to figure out an agreement on liability and damages, the injured party can not just wait for medical care. This is why your health insurance picks up the cost.

    However, your health insurer will also have a lien or right to reimbursement, meaning that when you settle your case or receive a jury award, you will also need to pay back your insurance. 

    How a Lawyer Helps

    Part of the lawyers responsibility in resolving a claim is to make sure all liens are also paid off. The last thing a client needs is to have received money and then get hit with a bill for past medical care. Your lawyer should review all insurance contracts you have entered, assist in having your bills paid and upon resolution of your case, a lawyer can negotiate with your health insurance and health care providers on any outstanding bills and liens. This could result in you paying less then what may be initially owed. 

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding a Car Accident In Florida or Any Other Injury

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.  

  • Can My Driver's License Be Suspended For Possession of Weed?

    Large Marijuana Plant

    Can My Driver's License Be Suspended For Possession of Weed?

    Yes, even a small bit of marijuana.
     
    Any person over the age of 18 convicted of possessing, selling, or trafficking a controlled substance, or convicted of conspiring to commit these offenses, will have his or her driver’s license suspended for one year.  However, the judge may direct the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) to issue a driver’s license restricted to business or employment purposes. A person who loses his or her license in this manner may petition for restoration after six months have passed. 
     
    License suspension under this provision can only be applied to a conviction for an offense specifically listed in the statute (possession, sale, trafficking, conspiracy).  Other offenses which are not specifically listed but are drug-related (such as the manufacture or purchase of drugs) will not trigger this suspension. 

    Important Issues To Consider 

    • Even a conviction to a charge as petty as misdemeanor possession of marijuana will trigger this suspension.  Although the judge has no discretion to waive the automatic suspension if the defendant has been convicted of an enumerated drug offense, the court may have discretion, depending on the case, to withhold adjudication.  A withhold if possible is significantly preferable to an adjudication, given that it does not trigger the automatic license suspension.  
    • It is important to remember that only the enumerated crimes trigger the automatic suspension.  The driving privilege should not be suspended merely because the conviction is drug-related.   
    • Additionally, a person convicted of a felony for the possession of a controlled substance will have his or her driving privilege revoked if, at the time of the possession, the person was in control of a motor vehicle.  If a person has his or her driving privilege revoked under this rule, he or she will not be eligible to receive a hardship license during the revocation period.

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Criminal Case

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • What is a Withhold of Adjudication?

    Legal books on library table

    What is a Withhold of Adjudication?

    A withhold of adjudication of guilt is unique to Florida.  When a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial, like in any other state the judge can adjudicate the defendant guilty.  However, for certain offenses the judge may instead withhold an adjudication of guilt.  A withhold of adjudication is often referred to simply as a “withhold.”  
     
    A court can withhold adjudication upon finding that “the defendant is not likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct and that the ends of justice and the welfare of society do not require that the defendant presently suffer the penalty imposed by law.” A person with a withhold can lawfully deny having been convicted of the crime; cannot be impeached with the crime when testifying in future court proceedings; and, if adjudication is withheld in a felony case, will not lose the right to vote. In other words, as a general matter a withhold is not a conviction for purposes of Florida law.   

    No Witholds in Certain Felonies

    Florida statute prohibits the imposition of a withhold for defendants charged with a capita felony, a life felony or a 1st degree felony.

    Witholds are allowed in 2nd and 3rd degree felonies if:

    • the client doesn't have (for 2nd degree felony) any prior felony withholds or (for 3rd degree felony) two prior felony witholds AND
    • the state attorney agrees to it and provides a written explanation OR
    • the Court feels that doing so is justified based upon factors explained in Florida Statute 921.0026

    Important Issues in a Withhold of Adjudication

    • The withhold will appear on background checks and on your records, however, you can petition to have a withhold sealed from your criminal record
    • A withhold means you were not convicted of the charges, it does not mean you were found not guilty or the charges were dropped
    • There are still certain employment fields, including nursing and the military, where even a withhold could your prevent you from being eligible to work
    • Once you get a withhold, you are less likely to be offered another if charged for a crime in the future
    • You can not be sentenced to prison if you receive a withhold, however you can serve a county jail sentence
    • You will not lose your right to vote
    • You are not a convicted felon

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Criminal Case

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

     
     

  • Do I Need Uninsured Motorist - UM - Coverage In Florida?

    Back Tail Ligth of Classic Car

    Do I Need Uninsured Motorist - UM - Coverage In Florida? 

    In most car accident cases, you would seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company, but what if the other driver doesn't have insurance. 

    This is why having UM coverage is important. You purchase UM coverage through your own insurance policy and it protects you from a situation where the other driver doesn't have insurance or the other driver's insurance limits are too low to cover your damages. UM provides compensation to a person who is seriously injured or killed due to the negligence of an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

    You are not required to have UM coverage in Florida and you can deny it when you sign up for your policy. However, it is a low cost coverage that can have a significant value if you are unfortunately seriously hurt in a car accident.

    What Can I Do If I'm Hit By An Uninsured Motorist?

    • You can try to sue the person personally, but often if a person has no insurance, they probably don't have any assets either. 
    • If you have UM coverage, you then file a claim with your own insurance company.

    What Is Stacking? 

    Stacking is a way for you to get as much benefit as possible out of their UM coverage. A person under one insurance policy that owns two or more vehicles can combine or stack the coverage for each vehicle insured on the policy. 

    For example, I have two vehicles. I have $100,000 in UM coverage on each vehicle and chose to have this coverage stacked, meaning I now have $200,000 in available coverage if I'm seriously injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. It took me only a couple minutes to get this done. 

    How Do I Check To See If I Have UM?

    Most insurance companies have a client section on their website. You are looking for your policy's declaration page. This page will show you all the details of your coverage, including how much bodily injury coverage you have, if you have UM coverage and if your UM coverage is stacked. If you can not find a copy of this on your insurance company's webpage, call them and ask for a copy of your declaration page. 

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding UM Coverage Or A Car Accident In Florida

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883

     

  • How long do I have to file a lawsuit for car accident?

    Classic Clock

    How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a car accident in Jacksonville, Florida?

    After suffering an injury due to a car accident, it is wise to consult with an attorney as soon as possible about your options. There is a statute of limitations regarding how long you have the right to file a lawsuit and claim damages. The statute of limitations exists so cases are brought forth when there is fresh, reliable information. The witnesses’ memories are clearer, documents are more readily available, and the events are more recent.

    In Florida, you have 4 years from the date of the injury to bring an action on a motor vehicle accident. There are different time periods for different injuries, for example wrongful death claims must be brought within 2 years. In a lawsuit against the state or city, you have to provide the required notice of claim within 3 years after such claim accrues.

    The date of injury is when a personal knows or should have known of the injury or date of the wrongful or negligent act. 

    There may be times when circumstances prevent a case from moving forward, and it is not the victims fault. A statute of limitations can be "tolled" to allow a temporary pause on time in the interest of justice. This can be due to the mental competency of a victim or their age as a minor. 

    This answer involves motor vehicle accidents; different statutes, rules, "tolling" examples and numerous other factors can play into an injury case. If you have been in a car accident or slip and fall, are a victim of medical malpractice, injured because of someone else negligence or a victim of sexual or physical abuse you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to better understand the time limitations in your particular case. Most attorney's offer free consultations so you have nothing to lose by making a phone call and everything to lose by waiting and being unsure.

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding a Car Accident In Florida or Any Other Injury

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883 

     

  • What Is The Right Way To Install A Child Seat?

    Stuffed Animal Giraffe in Baby Seat

    What Is The Right Way To Install A Child Seat?

    I can remember when my wife was pregnant and we were doing all the planning for the arrival of our first son. Painting his future room, putting together a crib, assembling the stroller and trying to make sure we would have everything ready. Little did we know how much we really didn't know.

    We bought car seats for both vehicles and then I Googled the laws and proper way to install the seat. Thank goodness I came across an event being held by Safe Kids Northeast Florida, where I was able to drive over, have some one install the seat and show me the right way to install it (there is a bit more than just buckling it in. A lot to do with angles and balance). 

    I know we were all raised driving in the front passenger seat and raising hell, but the laws have changed and it is best to understand what is expected of you as a responsible parent. 

    Florida Law Regarding Child Restraints – Car Seats and Booster Seats

    Florida law requires:

    • Children age 5 and under to be secured properly in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device.
    • Children ages 0 to 3 must be in child restraint devices of a separate carrier or a vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat.
    • Children age 4 and 5 must be in a separate carrier, integrated child seat or booster seat.

    The best child seat is one that fits your child, fits your car and that drivers will use correctly every time. Read the car seat’s instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner manual when you install a car seat.

    Remember to check for car seat and booster seat recalls.

    Local fire stations will assist you if you need help. 

    In the beaches area you can reach out to: 

    South Beach Fire Station
    2500 South Beach Parkway
    Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

    Or, you can call (904) 247-6201 to make an appointment at:

    Station 1
    325 2nd Avenue South
    Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

    There is no charge for this service.

    Safe Kids Northeast Florida Is Great

    Safe Kids Northeast Florida/Wolfson Children's Hospital
    Cynthia Dennis, Coordinator
    Phone: 904.202.4302
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Florida Highway Patrol Can Also Assist

    Just contact your local station. 

    If You Have Any Further Questions 

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • Do I Have a Good Car Accident Case?

    Smashed Front Car Light

    Do I Have a Good Car Accident Case?

    There are a number of factors an attorney will consider when reviewing a potential client's case. All personal injury lawsuits can be broken down to two separate and distinct issues - Liability and Damages. 

    Liability

    The most important factor is liability. In order for a plaintiff to recover damages for a personal injury, they have to prove that the injuries they suffered were due to the negligence of another party. Simply put, who is at "fault"

    Sometimes fault is obvious, for example, if you are hit by a drunk driver or another person attacks you and causes injury. Other times it may not be so clear, perhaps both parties were partially at fault. In Florida, if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident or injury, they are not allowed to seek or recover damages. The less they are at fault, the more they can potentially recover in an injury claim.

    Economic Damages

    When the accident was someone else's fault, you may be able to recover economic damages. A personal injury attorney will look for:

    • property damage
    • medical expenses (past and future)
    • lost wages
    • future earnings

    Determining the amount of damages you are owed will primarily depend on the extent of your injuries and your medical bills. If the other party is 100 percent at fault for your injuries and they have enough insurance, you should receive damages for the total amount of your medical bills. For a car accident, there are exceptions to the no-fault law. If you suffered permanent injuries, a loved one died, or your medical bills are expected to exceed $10,000, you may be able to sue the other driver for compensation if he or she was found to be at fault. In this case, your compensation would come from that driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) policy..

    Non-Economic Damages

    In addition to the economic damages, an injured party may also receive compensation for non-economic damages, including: 

    • Pain and suffering
    • Emotional distress 
    • Loss of enjoyment of life 
    • Loss of consortium 

    What’s My Case Worth?

    The truth is that the value of your case is dependent on quite a few factors. Even after all the numbers are added up in the damages discussed above, there is no mathematical formula that can be used to determine the exact value of your case. Every case is different, and the people dealing with your case such as the other driver’s insurance company or the jury your case is tried in front of will have different judgments on its value. Be careful if an attorney overpromises how much you could earn for your case. Estimates made based on the value of cases similar to yours may not always be accurate. 

    If You Have Questions About a Car Accident or Any Other Injury You Suffered

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.