What is an accident? An accident is an unforeseeable and unexpected turn of events that cause property damage and personal injuries.
Accidents typically occur due to someone’s negligence. As the chart to the right suggests – if you have been injured as the result of an accident and you are not at fault in causing the accident, you should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney as you may have a legitimate claim to compensation.
What To Do If You Are Injured in an Accident
Were you or a loved one hurt or injured in an accident in Pensacola, Florida? The first thing you should do is seek immediate medical attention from a doctor, hospital or medical professional. The next thing that you should do after your initial medical treatment is to look for an aggressive and experienced Pensacola personal injury lawyer who will fight to protect your legal rights. There are many lawyers and law firms in the Pensacola area, but if you want the best service Mr. Ortiz can offer, you should contact us for assistance in your claim. We will be more than happy to give you a free case evaluation to go over your case and help you better understand your legal rights. As your chosen personal injury attorney, Mr. Ortiz will make sure that you know exactly how we will handle your claim and how we will be able to assist you throughout the whole process of obtaining fair and just compensation for your claim.
We take pride in offering quality legal services with the passion to help innocent people who have been hurt because of the carelessness of others. With years as a personal injury lawyer, Mr. Ortiz has already helped dozens of personal injury clients. When you work with an attorney from our law office, you will have someone to fight hard for your rights. Our goal is to achieve the best possible result in your case.
What Is Personal Injury?
Personal Injury damages are physical and mental injuries to your person as a result of an accident due to the negligence or carelessness of another person. The victim has a legal right to recover compensation for his or her damages—including medical bills, lost wages, and other losses—in an insurance claim, settlement, or lawsuit. Making a claim or filing a lawsuit can be a difficult and complicated process. This is why we have lawyers to assist us in the misfortunes that we come across in life’s path. A well-qualified and experienced personal injury attorney will help you recover the losses you suffered as a result of the injuries you suffered in the accident.
If the accident results in the unfortunate death of a victim, then the decedent’s survivors may have a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. Florida laws spell out who is a proper party to a wrongful death claim, and what damages may be available to such parties. You should contact an attorney who understands Florida’s wrongful death rules and regulations.
Types of Personal Injury Practice Areas
If you have suffered an injury from any type of accident, a Pensacola personal injury lawyer at our firm may be able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. This includes a recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, loss of ability to make wages, out-of-pocket losses, and other costs that are related to the accident. Likewise, if you have lost a relative in a fatal accident, we can help you in preparing and filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The following are some of our practice areas that we are have handled in the past:
- Motor vehicle accidents, including car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Railroad accidents
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bicycle accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Birth injuries
- Burn injuries
- Premises liability
- Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents
- Slippery floors accidents
- Staircase accidents
- Falling objects accidents
- Medical and dental accidents
- Assault and battery
- Sexual abuse
- Nursing home neglect and elder abuse
- Dog bites
- Work accidents caused by a third party
- Wrongful death
Dealing With Insurance Companies
It can be extremely frustrating to deal with insurance companies and adjusters in an accident claim, especially when they attempt to lowball you and try to settle your injury claim for an amount which is way less than what you deserve. This makes sense when you look at the business nature of an insurance company—the less they pay you for your claim, the more money they keep for the bottom line and the better it is for business. If you feel overwhelmed in dealing with the insurance company, an experienced lawyer can represent you and fight on your behalf. Whether we are dealing with big or small insurance companies, we never back down from an insurance adjuster’s position because we know how auto insurance companies operate. We know what methods will work for us, and we know how to work to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients. Insurance companies should know that if they do not cooperate with us, we will bring the case to court.
Most personal injury cases involve some sort of negligence. To have a valid case, you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury and that your injury was caused by the negligence of another party. To prove negligence, you must prove four elements:
- Duty of Care. The negligent party had a duty or obligation to act prudently (reasonably) to avoid injuring the other party.
- Breach of Duty. The negligent party knowingly exposed the injured party to a substantial risk of injury or should have realized that there was a significant risk of harm.
- Causation or Direct Cause. The negligent party’s acts or omissions (lack of action) caused the victim injury.
- Damages or Harm. The injured party suffered a financial loss because of the negligent party’s negligence. Examples of monetary loss include medical bills (past, present and future), lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and more.
Additionally, damages are designed to compensate someone for their injury (see the next section).
When you have been hurt or injured in an accident, you are entitled to compensation for damages (the harm caused to you). A skilled attorney can help you recover compensation for your losses in an accident case, which can include:
- Medical expenses (past and present). Medical bills may include the costs for emergency room visits, the emergency room physician, x-rays and other radiology reports, hospital care, surgery, physical therapy, assistive devices, and appointments with approved medical doctors and medical professionals.
- Future medical expenses. If the accident victim can prove that he will need continued medical care as a result of the accident, then he may be able to recover the anticipated cost of future medical bills.
- Lost wages. Injured accident victims may be able to recover compensation for wages lost between the time of the accident and the settlement or conclusion of the lawsuit. If the injured victim was unemployed at the time of the accident, then he may still be awarded lost wages if he can demonstrate earning potential or loss of a job opportunity during this time period.
- Loss of earning capacity. If the plaintiff can show that his ability to earn wages has been reduced or negatively impacted (in other words, that he can only do a job that pays less money than before), compensation may be available for such losses. While past wages are a factor in determining the amount of this award, the insurance adjuster or jury will typically evaluate the amount victim could have earned if the car accident had not occurred.
- Property Damage. Damage to the vehicle or other property.
“Non-Economic” damages award the plaintiff for non-financial losses that typically harder to quantify or put a specific dollar amount on. Such non-monetary losses may include compensation for the following:
- Pain and suffering. This includes compensation for the physical pain and suffering endured as a result of the injuries caused by the accident. In evaluating and awarding damages for pain and suffering, the insurance adjuster or jury will examine the nature of the injury, the extent of the pain, and the length of time the victim is expected to suffer pain.
- Mental anguish. Victims can also be awarded damages for the emotional pain suffered as a result of the accident. Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for embarrassment, nervousness, fright, worry, grief, and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident.
- Loss of consortium. If an accident claim or lawsuit is successful, the spouse of the victim may be able to recover damages for loss of marital benefits—including companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort. An insurance adjuster or jury will typically examine the following factors when awarding damages for loss of consortium: the stability of the marriage, the life expectancy of both partners, the degree to which marital benefits have been lost, and the amount of care and companionship given to the uninjured spouse.
- Punitive damages. If the actions of the defendant were extremely malicious or egregious, the insurance adjuster or jury may compensate the victim with punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior from the defendant (and others similarly situated) in the future.
Liability: Who Is Responsible For Paying Compensation In Connection With The Accident?
Individuals, businesses, insurance companies, and other legal entities may be liable for compensating you for your injuries, depending on the type of accident. For example, attorneys will not typically deal directly with the at-fault driver in an auto accident claim. Instead, a personal injury attorney will more likely work directly with the insurance company of the liable party. However, things may be different in a slip and fall accident case where the property owner did not carry premises liability insurance. In such a case, the attorney may deal directly with the owner of the property if the owner is liable for failing to maintain a safe property.
Types of Personal Injury Claims
Personal injury claims typically fall into three categories: negligence, intentional torts, and strict liability torts. The following is a brief overview:
- Negligence happens when the other party fails to act with reasonable care. For example, imagine you are at a complete stop in your vehicle at a red light when another driver rear-ends you because he is not paying attention. If you suffered physical injuries and mental distress in the crash, you have suffered personal injuries due to the negligence of the at-fault driver. These damages are separate from damage to your car, which is called property damage and not personal injury.
- Intentional torts or harm happen when the other person intentionally sets out to hurt you. Battery, assault, and false imprisonment fall into this category.
- Strict liability means that anyone involved in the production, distribution, or sale of a defective product can be held responsible if the defective product causes harm or injury to someone.
Legal Representation by an Attorney
An experienced attorney will help determine how well you are represented in your insurance claim and assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. An attorney is your representative and acts on your behalf in dealing with the insurance company and the court of law. That is why you should have a good understanding of your attorney’s qualifications, level of experience, and understanding in respect to your issue.
Here is a more detailed list of factors to consider when choosing an attorney:
- Qualifications. The attorney should have the necessary skills and qualifications to handle your type of claim in an insurance claim or lawsuit in court. The attorney should also be admitted to the appropriate state or federal court jurisdiction that will apply to your case.
- Experience. You should determine the amount of experience the attorney has had in his career in handling claims similar to yours. Experience may include handling the same type of accident, similar circumstances, and experience handling similar injuries.
- Loyalty. A lawyer has a duty to avoid conflicts of interest and must be loyal to the interests of his client.
- Aggressiveness. You want an attorney who is excited to go against large corporate entities and governmental agencies, such as large corporations, big insurance companies, and government bodies.
- Communication. You should have effective communication with your lawyer. Open and effective communication is essential, as your attorney needs to know all the important information about the accident, any related injuries, and losses resulting from it that will help him win the case.
- Compensation. Most personal injury lawyers do not ask for a down payment and instead handle injury claims on a contingency fee basis. You should not pay for fees or costs unless you have agreed to do so in writing or are ordered to do so by a court of law.
- Availability. You should be able to reach your attorney’s office by phone during regular office hours. If you cannot speak with the attorney right away, you should still be able to speak with the attorney’s staff and expect a return phone call within a reasonable time.
- Calculation of damages. Your attorney should have the ability to evaluate your claim, assess your chances of success, and be able to calculate an estimate of the losses you suffered because of your injuries.
- Customer satisfaction. Your lawyer should have your best interests at heart.
Benefits of hiring a Pensacola personal injury lawyer:
- Fair Representation. A good attorney will make sure you have a fair opportunity to be heard by the insurance company or in a court of law.
- Settlement. This is especially true in cases where there is insurance coverage available from insurance companies. Most insurance companies do not like to be defendants in court proceedings and are open to settling cases outside of court before a lawsuit has been filed. One of the biggest reasons is that litigation is expensive, and the insurance company would prefer to avoid court case expenses. Your attorney should be familiar with the right time and circumstances to demand a settlement.
- Negotiation. A lawyer should be able to effectively negotiate on your behalf, navigate tricky situations that might arise, and get you the best compensation possible.
- Good knowledge of related laws. Nick Ortiz is very knowledgeable in tort law (accident law), which allows him to assist you in the claims process no matter how complex the case. His knowledge and experience allow him to evaluate your claim to determine the appropriate compensation you deserve.
- Tricky insurance companies. Most insurance companies would love to avoid compensating injury victims. Mr. Ortiz is familiar with the techniques used by insurance companies and he knows how to deal with them effectively.
- Determining the value of your case. Injuries are always compensated with monetary damages. Without the necessary knowledge and experience of similar injuries, getting fair compensation will be difficult if not impossible. Your attorney must be familiar with similar cases and injuries and how insurance companies and courts are compensating such injuries. Only then can you truly know your case valuation, or how much your case is worth?
A personal injury lawyer in Pensacola, Florida with the qualifications outlined above is Nick A. Ortiz with the Ortiz Law Firm. Accident victims should work with an experienced personal injury accident lawyer to get the settlement he deserves. The Ortiz Law Firm is recognized for its ability to achieve excellent case outcomes in personal injury cases. No matter what the details of your accident, we can help you get a recovery and obtain additional assistance for future expenses caused by your injury.
Speak With an AttorneyThe Ortiz Law Firm has helped individuals throughout Florida who find themselves struggling—financially, physically and mentally—as the result of a serious accident. Attorney Nick A. Ortiz has over a decade of experience in representing accident victims, has real trial court experience, and has secured hundreds of thousands in settlements and jury verdicts for his clients.
If you have been injured, give Attorney Nick A. Ortiz a call at (850) 308-8131, we look forward to telling your story.