Do I have a Lawsuit?

Law Information

If you have been involved in any type of accident or have suffered damages because of the negligence of others, you must decide if you are going to file a lawsuit. There are three important elements to consider: fault (civil liability), damages, and your chances of collecting money compensation. What follows is a brief explanation of each of these elements.

  • Fault (civil liability)
    An individual, a business entity, or a governmental entity, must be legally responsible for your damages. That is, that the other party was negligent. This means that something was not done correctly or that there was a failure to do something which should have been done. For example, if you slip and fall on the wet and greasy floor of a cruise ship and the employees knew of the danger and ignored it, the cruise ship company is legally responsible to you for your damages because its employees ignored the danger. Even an employee of the same cruise company working on his own ship is entitled to collect money compensation if he slips, falls, and injures himself because of the wet and greasy floor.
    In most states, you can file a lawsuit even when you are partially responsible for your damages. In this case, your money compensation will be reduced according to your percentage of responsibility.
  • Damages
    You must have suffered damages in order to receive money compensation. When you think about your damages remember that they include past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, property damage, etc.
  • Chances of Collecting Money Compensation
    Can the person or entity at fault pay for your damages? If the answer is yes, you should file your lawsuit. Even if the other side does not have much money, there could be insurance coverage or other assets. In certain situations, it is also possible to sue a third party, such as an employer. If a cruise company is involved, collecting your damages is never a problem. All cruise ships companies have plenty of insurance coverage and assets to pay for your damages.
    If you have been involved in an accident, it should be easy to decide to file a lawsuit considering the aforementioned elements: fault, damages, and your chances of collecting money compensation. With the help of an attorney, you can easily find out if you have a viable lawsuit.

Who Pays Your Medical Expenses After An Automobile Accident?

Law Information

The answer to this question always surprises my clients. At the beginning of the seventies, Florida adopted the no fault law as to medical expenses which is still in force today.
The general public knows this type of insurance coverage by several names: a) PIP [personal injury protection], b) No Fault Insurance, c) Mandatory Insurance to obtain your vehicle’s tag. This third name is how the majority of the public is acquainted with it.
The theoretical underpinning of this insurance scheme is based on the following premises:

  1. An automobile accident is a horrible occurrence.
  2. Therefore, we want that all persons be able to pay the related medical expenses irrespective of fault.

The adoption of the philosophy means that you are responsible for the payment of your own medical expenses up to $10,000.00 even if you are not at fault for the accident. Neither the driver at fault nor his insurance company have to pay your first $10,000.00 in medical expenses. For example, “driver at fault” runs a stop sign and fractures his foot. He also causes the other driver a fractured arm.
The insurance company for the other driver will pay his medical expenses up to $10,000.00 and the insurance company for the party at fault is only responsible for the medical expenses that exceed $10,000.00. However, the company for the driver at fault will also have to pay medical expenses for the driver at fault up to $10,000.00.

What happens if the party at fault does not have automobile insurance and the medical expenses exceed $10,000.00?
The answer to this question is very important. The high cost of medical care nowadays virtually guarantees that if a person needs to be hospitalized the $10,000.00 in medical coverage provided by his automobile insurance will be exhausted right away. If the driver at fault does not have insurance and the other driver has health insurance, the other driver will be able to collect from his health insurance his medical expenses over $10,000.00. The driver at fault is personally responsible for all his medical expenses.

What happens if neither driver has automobile insurance?
If they have health insurance, their health insurance companies will pay for their medical bills in accordance with their policies. If they do not have health insurance, both drivers will be responsible for paying their own medical expenses up to $10,000.00 and the driver at fault will be responsible for paying the other driver’s medical expenses over $10,000.00.
Basically, the law makes every driver responsible for his first $10,000.00 in medical expenses irrespective of fault and requires that every driver buy automobile accident insurance to pay his own medical expenses up to $10,000.00.

Is there any logic to this insurance scheme?
No. This is because the driver at fault is not responsible for the first $10,000.00 in medical expenses of the other driver who is the victim of his negligence.

Does this auto insurance scheme make sense from the social point of view?
Yes. The goal of the legislature in enacting this law was to make sure that all parties in an automobile accident, irrespective of fault, could pay their medical expenses. I think this goal was accomplished.

What Negligence Means

Law Information

At one point or another we have all considered filing a claim against somebody for "negligence". This normally occurs after having been involved in an accident. But what exactly does "negligence" mean?

The legal concept of "negligence" has evolved over several centuries. Depending on the case, it can either be easy or difficult to apply. Here we provide a summary of those elements that judicial courts consider when deciding if someone has been "negligent".

  • Incompletion of duties and damages. A person is negligent when they cause harm by not fulfilling their duties towards another person. As an example, we all have to be careful when driving a car. A driver who was not careful and causes an accident is "negligent".
    An important aspect of negligence is its "predictability". A person is guilty of negligence only if the damage caused was a predictable result of his actions.
  • How courts decide. In order to decide if someone has not fulfilled their duties, the courts examine all the facts in the case, so as to fully understand what happened. After they asked themselves what a "reasonable" person would do in the same situation. If the person accused of negligence did exactly what any reasonable person would do in the same situation, they are not guilty. But if the person’s actions were distinct from those of a reasonable person, it is more than likely that they are negligent.
  • A recent example. Pedro was injured after having tripping on a game that had fallen to the ground in a store. Pedro initiated a claim against the store’s owner. The courts ruled in Pedro’s favor because the store employee who had placed the toys on the shelf did a lousy job and therefore had been negligent.

If you are injured in an accident due to somebody else’s negligence, get legal assistance and learn about your rights to receive monetary compensation. But you must move quickly, as the window of opportunity to file a claim is limited.

Don’t Say Anything after an Automobile Accident

General Information Law Information

If you’re involved in an automobile accident you should not discuss with the other driver, nor take responsibility for the accident. What you might say can be used against you, and will be detrimental to your interests. The best thing you can do is to consult with an attorney before saying anything to the other party, or even to your own insurance company. A 15 minute visit with a qualified attorney can save you a lot of money and a lot of headaches.

This blog only provides general information on the subjects covered. Due to the changes in the law, to the exceptions to the general principles of the law, and the variations in the law in different states, seek advice from an attorney before undertaking any lawsuit.