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Protecting Your Rights

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FAQs

FAQS ABOUT AUTO ACCIDENTS

There are approximately 12 million car accidents in the United States each year. Take a few minutes to read the answers to these frequently asked questions about auto accidents.

What Should I Do if I Am in an Accident?

  • Stay as calm as possible.
  • Move yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way. Call 911.
  • Assist anyone who is injured. Tell the 911 operator there may be injuries.
  • Get the name, address, phone number, and license number of the other driver and car. Exchange insurance information. Do not discuss the accident (except with the police), but do make notes of anything the other driver says about the accident.
  • Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses.
  • Get photographs of your vehicle, contact your insurance company, and write down everything you remember about the collision as soon as possible.
  • Ask the police officer for a copy of the Driver’s Exchange of Information or the police report case number. Make sure you also know which police department is on scene.
  • Contact FloridaInjuryLawyer.com or another Florida injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

How Are Insurance Claims Handled?

As soon as possible after the accident you should contact your own insurance company to notify them of the car accident. You have the right to call our office at FloridaInjuryLawyer.com for a free consultation before you contact your insurance company. Your own insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills and lost wages up to $10,000 regardless of who is at fault. If the car accident was the other driver’s fault, you have the right to claim damages against the other driver’s insurance company for damage to your vehicle, medical bills which exceed your own PIP coverage, lost wages and other damages.  If you have sustained a permanent injury you have the right to claim damages against the owner and driver of the other vehicle for pain and suffering, mental anguish and other damages.

The Other Driver Had No Insurance Coverage.

If the other driver does not have insurance that fact should be verified in writing. Florida law requires someone involved in a motor vehicle accident to provide insurance coverage documentation within thirty days of a written request. You should review your own policy to determine whether you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM). UM coverage is optional in Florida. UM coverage can benefit you if the other driver had no insurance or had inadequate insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your loss. If you did not have uninsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy it would be advisable to obtain documentation from your insurance company showing that you knowingly rejected that uninsured motorist coverage.

Some insurance companies will tell you that you don’t need an attorney to represent you if you are injured in the accident. This is bad advice. It is best to be cautious and not give an insurance company a phone statement or an in-person official statement about the accident without consulting an injury attorney, such as Mr. McIntyre, at FloridaInjuryLawyer.com so that your rights might be protected.

How Are Property Damage Claims Handled?

If no one is injured you may not need an attorney. If the accident is not your fault, the other driver’s insurance should pay to fix your car, unless it would cost more to fix your car than it is worth. If this is the case, your car is “totaled,” and you should receive the fair market value of your car before the accident. Many repair shops will help you by providing free repair estimates for insurance purposes. If you have your car repaired by the other insurance company you have the right to ask for “loss of use” compensation so that you might obtain other means of transportation while your vehicle is being repaired.

What if I Am Injured?

If you have been injured, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centers will treat your injuries until you have the chance to go to your family physician or to a chiropractor, orthopedic or neurologist.

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you were not injured but your car was damaged, you may not need an attorney. However, if you have been injured or have missed work, you should contact FloridaInjuryLawyer.com to help with your claim. Unfortunately, many insurance companies feel that you, on your own, will not be able to adequately present your case if a lawsuit is necessary and they are apt to try to settle with you for an amount more favorable to them than to you.

How Much Does Mr. McIntyre Charge?

Attorney Joseph C. McIntyre handles all claims on a contingent fee basis. You may no money to Mr. McIntyre up front. There is no attorney’s fee or costs to you unless there is a recovery. If the case settles before a lawsuit is filed or, if a lawsuit is filed, before the defense files its answer to the lawsuit, the attorney receives one-third of the gross recovery. If a lawsuit is filed and the defense files its answer or the time period for them to file an answer expires, then the attorney’s fee rises to 40% of the gross recovery.

If an instrumentality of the State of Florida is a defendant then any attorney’s fee against that defendant is limited to 25%. The attorney’s fees in medical malpractice claims are different and are set forth in the documents you will be provided when you decide to retain an injury lawyer. Also, if the recovery exceeds $1,000,000 then the attorney’s fees are reduced on those sums which exceed a million dollars.

Legal costs such as investigation fees, medical record fees, expert witness fees, or filing fees are deducted from the recovery after the attorney’s fee is calculated. For example, if there is a recovery of $10,000 the attorney would take one third of that amount leaving $6,667. Then, if there are legal costs that have been paid by the attorney, let’s say $500, then that amount would be deducted from the $6,667.

To retain Attorney McIntyre you will sign a Contract for Services as well as a Statement of Client’s Rights for Contingency Fees. Mr. McIntyre will also sign and you will receive a copy of these documents. It is at that time that an attorney-client relationship is established.

What Is My Claim Worth?

The answer depends on a number of different factors. The basics of valuing your claim depend on first, the severity of your injury and the amount of your economic damages you incur, second, the degree to which the other side is legally liable and third, the amount of insurance coverage or assets available to compensate you for your loss. This is a very basic outline and each case is different. There are probably a hundred subparts to each of those factors. Attorney Joe McIntyre will discuss with you the factors that would affect the valuation of your claim.

How Long Will It Take to Settle My Claim?

This is another question that does not lend itself to an easy answer. Attorney McIntyre has settled cases within a few months from the date of the accident and others have taken a good while longer. Some cases can continue for years depending on the circumstances. Mr. McIntyre keeps clients updated on the status of their cases. He gives his cell phone number to clients and picks up that phone whenever possible. If he is not able to take a call, he calls clients back within a few hours. Mr. McIntyre mails copies of all important documents to clients upon their request so they can monitor the status of their case.

Who Do I Talk To?

If you have been in an accident and have questions about whether you need a lawyer or whether you have a right to monetary damages you are welcome to call Attorney Joseph C. McIntyre at 1877 INCOURT (1 877 462-6878) or e-mail us through FloridaInjuryLawyer.com or directly at Joe@FloridaInjuryLawyer.com. Decisions that must be made after an accident are very important. We will be happy to talk to you about your case.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MEDICAL ERRORS

According to a report issued by a federal government task force, somewhere between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year because of mistakes made by their doctors. Given the silence in the press regarding the number of deaths caused by medical errors each year, it could be called a “silent epidemic.”

A “medical mistake” can take several different forms: the failure to properly diagnose a patient’s problem; the failure to choose the correct course of action to treat the problem a patient has; or the failure to properly perform the treatment plan chosen. No matter what form a particular mistake takes, all medical mistakes share one characteristic: They can be deadly.

Unfortunately, many patients and family members of victims do not realize that a medical mistake has occurred. All too often, the injury or even the death caused by a medical error is seen as being the result of the patient’s original illness, not as the result of a preventable error.

There are a number of causes of medical mistakes. First, the increasing prevalence of HMOs means that patients often are not referred to the appropriate specialist until after their condition has worsened and become more difficult to treat. Second, many doctors (particularly young interns) work long hours. Third, there is a shortage of trained nurses. All of these factors add up to a system in which a number of otherwise preventable injuries and deaths are caused by overworked, exhausted, or inexperienced caregivers.

Adverse drug reactions are another source of medical mistakes. The explosion in the number of prescription drugs available means that doctors often prescribe several drugs to the same patient but have no idea how these prescriptions will interact with each other. Sometimes, adverse reactions will harm or even kill a patient.

Medical mistakes can be dangerous, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. Be actively involved in your own care. Ask questions. If you think your doctor may have made a mistake, ask about it. If you still have doubts, get a second and even a third opinion. Pay careful attention to your medications. Read the label and report any ill effect you think the medication might be having on you to your doctor immediately.

If you feel that you or someone you love may have been a victim of a medical mistake, contact us. We will help you determine the best course of legal action. And remember to stay alert. The life you save may be your own.

IDENTITY THEFT

Intent on taking a free ride on the good name and reputation of others, identity thieves obtain personal information and then essentially impersonate their victims as they open credit-card accounts, make purchases, or take out loans. While there is no way to have complete protection against identity theft, these common-sense measures can decrease the odds of becoming a victim:

  • Jealously guard personal information like your Social Security number and account numbers and passwords, divulging it only in a communication that you initiate.
  • Keep your wallet from becoming a gold mine for potential thieves by carrying the minimum in checks, credit cards, or other bank items, and do not keep your Social Security number there.
  • Retrieve your mail promptly and do not leave outgoing mail in your doorway or home mailbox.
  • Tear up private papers like bank statements, receipts, and credit-card applications before throwing them away.
  • Store valuable financial information at home in a place that is not available to prying eyes.
  • Review bank account and credit-card records regularly, as well as your own credit report prepared by a credit bureau, so that you can pick up the first signs of trouble, such as a missing payment or an unauthorized withdrawal.

THANKS FOR THE REFERRALS

Despite this modern age of marketing and advertising, the best source of our new business is word of mouth. Attorney Joe McIntyre is grateful that many of his clients and their families feel confident in recommending him.

WHAT IS “NEGLIGENCE”?

You may have noticed that when a big lawsuit makes the news, the jury in the case is often asked to figure out if one of the parties was “negligent.” But just what does it mean to say someone is negligent, in a legal sense?

The answer is that it means pretty much the same as in everyday conversation — that someone was careless. A basic statement of legal negligence is that a person “did not act as a reasonably prudent person would under the same circumstances.” However, a finding that a person has been legally negligent involves several different elements.

For example, most people would agree that a driver who runs a stop sign and hits a pedestrian was careless, but was he negligent? To find legal negligence, a court or jury must first find that the person “breached” a duty owed to others. In our example, every driver owes a duty to others to be careful when driving a car, and running a stop sign violates this duty.

The negligent act must also cause damage. If the driver broke the pedestrians arm, this injury could mean that the driver was negligent. Finally, the damage caused by the negligence must have been “foreseeable.” Because most people would expect that a driver who runs a stop sign might hit someone, chances are a court would find the driver has been legally negligent.

In real life, most negligence questions are more complicated than this example and may be even more complicated by the fact that sometimes more than one person was negligent. If you have been injured and you think it was someone else’s fault, give us a call.

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