Our Personal Injury FAQs

When you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you have lots of questions about how to hold the at-fault party responsible and how to get the money you need for the medical bills that are piling up. Read our FAQs to learn the basics and then call us if you have more questions. We are happy to help you get on the road to recovery.

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  • How Long Until My Personal Injury Case Is Settled?

    Hour glass pink sand

    How Long Until My Personal Injury Case Is Settled?

    You have been injured, you are seeing a doctor and following their treatment plan, you have missed some work and maybe are still out of work and you are wondering when, if ever, your case will be settled and you will be compensated. You have waited months and are starting to think there will never be an end.

    You, the client, will have to show extreme patience, your case may take 6 months or it could be several years. Do you want a quick result or the best result?  A personal injury case can best be described as a marathon not a sprint. There is a steady pace to the case but a long way to the finish line.

    So Why Does A Personal Injury Case Take So Long?

    The most important part of an injury claim is your medical treatment. In order to gauge how much your case is worth, an attorney will need to know the complete cost of your medical treatment. If you are still treating, it is difficult to tell how much money will be necessary to complete your treatment. Will you need future treatment or surgery? If so, those costs need to be calculated in and if they are unknown and arise after you settle, you could be out a substantial amount of money due to having to pay for that treatment or surgery. Patience and concentrating on getting better should be your goals. 

    An attorney will need to have a full picture of your medical history and future in order to properly negotiate with the insurance company. Insurance will demand documentation to back up any claims and demands for compensation. In addition, it will take time to realize the full extent of possible lost wages. 

    Quick Case Outline

    Your case will begin with your treatment. Making sure you are getting the medical care you need. It may take months to fully recover and have a doctor state that you have completed treatment. It may take a year or two to reach that point, but a full picture of medical cost and future medical care is necessary to not only make sure you are better but also that you are compensated for all the cost that medical care brings along. 

    Your attorney will also be negotiating with the insurance company. Your attorney will share medical records and demand what they and you believe to be a reasonable amount. Negotiations may take a few months, may take a year. 

    If the insurance company is unreasonable and will only provide a small settlement, then you may need to file a lawsuit. Taking a case to trial could add on another year or two to your timeline due to everything that will have to be done before trial, including depositions, mediations and the probable delay tactics of the defense attorneys. 

    So What Can I Do?

    You should concentrate on getting better physically, mentally and getting your life back on track. Allow an attorney to handle your case and take that burden from you. An attorney will help getting you paid for lost wages and medical bills and will fight for you against the insurance company. 

    If You Have Any Questions Regarding An Injury 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 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.

  • 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.  

  • 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.

  • Can I Sue the City of Jacksonville or the Sheriff's Office?

    Can I Sue the City of Jacksonville or the Sheriff's Office?

    Yes, but it depends. An often spoken phrase by lawyers, caused probably by the fact that we spend so much of our time arguing over exactly what a law or rule may mean. Below I will try to explain the basics of a tort claim against the City of Jacksonville and/or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. If you have any further questions please feel free to call me. 

    Ok, so why does it "depend"? 

    Because our government agencies are provided sovereign immunity.

    What is sovereign immunity and what is its purpose?

    Sovereign immunity prohibits/restricts tort suits against the government; the government cannot be sued without its consent. 

    Reasons for sovereign immunity:

    • Separation of powers
      • Government affairs must be protected from interference by courts and plaintiffs. 
      • Separation of powers concerns prohibits the judicial branch from interfering with the discretionary functions of the legislative or executive branch absent a violation or constitutional or statutory right.
    • Protects the discretion of governmental authorities in decision-making. 
      • Government administration would be disrupted if the state could be sued at the instance of every citizen. 
      • Governmental decision-making requires flexibility and discretion. 
    • Regulates the fiscal impact of tort damage awards on the public treasury.

    Sounds like that's a wrap, can't sue the City, your out of luck. But of course "it depends". Fortunately, the Florida Constitution specifically provides the legislature the power to pass laws providing for a waiver of sovereign immunity. 

    Article X, Section 13 of the Florida Constitution states; "Provision may be made by general law for bringing suit against the state as to all liabilities now existing or hereafter originating."

    The Florida legislature passed Section 768.28, F.S., allowing for a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. The statutes begins by stating:

    In accordance with s. 13, Art. X of the State Constitution, the state, for itself and for its agencies or subdivisions, hereby waives sovereign immunity for liability for torts, but only to the extent specified in this act. Actions at law against the state or any of its agencies or subdivisions to recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its agencies or subdivisions for injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision while acting within the scope of the employee’s office or employment under circumstances in which the state or such agency or subdivision, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant, in accordance with the general laws of this state, may be prosecuted subject to the limitations specified in this act. 

    So what can the City of Jacksonville be sued for?

    • To recover damages in tort for money damages against the state or its agencies or subdivisions.
    • For injury or loss of property, personal injury, or death.
    • Caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the agency or subdivision.
    • While acting within the scope of the employee’s office or employment.

    Claims can be for a number of reasons, including wrongful arrest, personal injury or wrongful death. 

    Now again, these are just the basics, there are always questions as to who or what qualifies as an agency or subdivision of the state, what is "within the scope of the employee’s office or employment", is the particular individual (employee) liable and numerous other issues. This is why it is recommended to speak to an attorney if you believe you have a case against the City of Jacksonville or the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

    Please follow up and read my post "4 Need to Know Rules Before You Sue The City of Jacksonville."

    If You Have Questions About a Claim Against a City or the State of 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 a premises liability claim?

    Unless you are a lawyer, the term premises liability may be unfamiliar to you. However, you have probably heard of lawsuits related to slip and fall accidents in hotel lobbies, dog bite injuries in public parks, and injuries sustained in parking garage stairwell falls. These are all examples of possible premises liability claims. The law says that property owners must make a reasonable effort to keep their premises safe for guests and visitors. When they fail to do so and someone is injured, the property owner is responsible for any financial losses the victim suffers.

    How Do You Prove Premises Liability?

    Like other personal injury claims, premises liability claims are based on negligence. In order to prove a claim, you must show that the property owner was negligent in some way. For example, if a parking garage owner knew that a stairwell had a burned-out lightbulb and you fell down the stairs, he would be considered negligent. You must also show that his negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. In our example, you would have to produce evidence from a doctor stating that your injury—broken bone, traumatic brain injury, back injury, etc.—was caused by the fall down the stairs. Finally, you would have to show that you were in the parking garage for a legitimate reason, such as parking your car, and not to make mischief. Trespassers are generally not covered under premises liability claims.

    Types of Premises Liability Claims

    Premises liability claims can be made against homeowners, business owners, municipalities, and others. Some common claims include the following:

    • Slip and fall. When property conditions cause you to slip or trip and fall, the owner may be liable. However, you must show that he knew or should have known about the dangerous conditions and that he failed to correct them. These accidents occur on wet floors, icy sidewalks, floors with unsecured rugs, stairs with broken handrails or missing steps, and broken or uneven surfaces.
       
    • Dog bite. If you are bitten by a dog—even it is the first time the dog has been reported for biting—you can hold the dog’s owner responsible for your injuries. Exceptions to the law include people who purposely tease or provoke dogs and people who are unlawfully on the property when they are bitten.
       
    • Inadequate building security. If you are assaulted or a loved one is killed by an intruder and it can be proven that building security was lax, you may be able to hold the building owner responsible for your losses.
       
    • Swimming pool accidents. There is no shortage of swimming pools in Florida, and owners are required by law to keep them safe and secured. If a pool is left accessible and a child is injured or killed, the owner may be liable. Swimming pool owners must also keep the pool deck safe and could be liable for guests’ slip and fall accidents.

    Premises liability claims are usually paid by insurance policies, such as a homeowner’s or business owner’s liability coverage.

    These Are Not Easy Claims to Win

    Premises liability claims often come down to the victim’s word against the property owner’s. If you suffered because of a property owner’s negligence, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. Call the Clifton Law Office to find out if we can help you recover damages when you are injured.

  • What should I do after I am injured in a car accident in Florida?

    Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to make decisions after a Florida car accident. For some victims, decisions are made for them as they are rushed off in ambulances or rescue helicopters. If you are conscious after a crash, you should have these steps in mind to protect your welfare and your potential for a financial recovery.

    Safety First

    The very first thing you should do is make sure you are not in danger of further injury by moving your car off the road, turning off the ignition, turning on your hazard lights, and putting out warning cones, if you have them. Once you have taken those steps, we recommend doing the following:

    • Call for help. Even if damage and injuries seem minor, call 911 and report the accident. If there appear to be any injuries at all, it is a good idea to request an ambulance. When the police arrive, they will investigate the accident and write a report that could be helpful if you need to file a claim or have cause to sue the other driver later on.
       
    • Gather information. Even though it should be in the police report, get the names and contact information for anyone else involved in the accident as well as any witnesses that are around. If others at the scene are uncooperative, be sure to at least get the license plate numbers and the police officer’s name and badge number.
       
    • Take photos. Taking photos with your cell phone will help document the scene and the damage done to your vehicle before the site is cleaned up. This can help experts determine how the accident occurred if fault becomes an issue later on. You can also get photos of license plates and the surrounding area for additional information.
       
    • Watch what you say. No matter what happened, avoid saying anything that could be construed as admitting fault. Something as simple as apologizing could be taken to mean you caused the accident. Other than answering the police officer’s questions and sharing your name and contact information, you do not need to say anything else.
       
    • Notify your insurance company. Let your insurance agent know as soon as possible about the accident. If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, do not agree to sign anything and do not allow them to record a statement from you.
       
    • Call an attorney. If you are injured in the accident, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney to discuss your claim. Medical bills can pile up quickly and you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver. The sooner you call an attorney, the better.

    The Clifton Law Office Is Here for You

    You may be told by the responding officer or by your insurance agent that, because Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents, there is no need to call an attorney. However, there are exceptions to the no-fault law that are best discussed with a local personal injury attorney. Call us or connect with us through the form on this page to learn more.