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F.A.Q.

SHOULD I TAKE PHOTOS OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE?

Yes. If you are physically able, take photographs of the accident scene. If you do not have a camera, remember your cell phone probably has the ability to take photos. If not, ask a bystander to take photographs and email them to you. The longer you wait the chances are the scene of the incident may change. For example, a store employee may clean up a spill that caused you to slip and fall. A motorist may move his car making it difficult to prove who was at fault for the accident.

WHAT SHOULD I PHOTOGRAPH?

In a slip and fall case, photograph what caused you to fall. Also photograph the surrounding area. In a motor vehicle crash, photograph the damage to all of the vehicles, and again photograph the surrounding area. Also photograph any individuals involved in an accident and any witnesses. In any accident, make sure you photograph any visible injuries to your body, and then again several days later as bruises may become more visible.

SHOULD I GET WITNESS STATEMENTS?

If a witness supports your version of the events and confirms that someone other than you was at fault, take their names, phone numbers, email addresses, and see if they will write a note detailing their observations and have them sign it. Also write down any statements of apologies or admissions of mistakes made by the person at fault, and if he or she will sign and date their admissions of guilt. If others hear these statements, ask them to sign and date a note detailing what they heard.

WHAT SHOULD I SAY IF I AM INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT?

Be careful what you say. Do not say anything that implies that you were wholly or even partially responsible for the accident. Do not say that you could have done something to prevent an accident. Even if at the time of the incident you do not feel injured, do not say you are not injured. It is very common to not notice injuries or feel pain until many hours after an accident. Some injuries are not apparent until days later. If asked if you are injured, just say you are not sure, and will get checked out later by your family doctor or the at the emergency room. If you are injured at the scene of the accident then you should request medical attention immediately.

SHOULD I GET MEDICAL ATTENTION?

If you believe you may be injured, seek a medical examination immediately. If you are seriously injured and can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment, go to the emergency room of your local hospital or to an urgent care facility. Make sure you are as descriptive as possible to the nurse and doctor regarding you injuries and how you got them (example: I slipped on a foreign substance, I tripped on a cracked sidewalk, I was struck from behind while stopped at a red light, etc.)

HOW MUCH IS MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE WORTH?

The value of your injury is based on several criteria:

  • Past medical bills incurred
  • Future medical bills you may need in the future
  • Past Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Capacity in the Future
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Any comparative negligence on your part

While an attorney can never predict exactly what a jury will award, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will be able to ascertain a case’s value based on his years of experience in handling similar cases as well as utilizing various services which report on verdicts and settlements for cases with similar fact patterns in your jurisdiction.

THE PERSON OR COMPANY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACCIDENT DOES NOT HAVE INSURANCE, SHOULD I STILL PURSUE A CLAIM?

In all likelihood, it would not be beneficial to pursue a claim against a party without insurance. However, always consult with an attorney before abandoning a claim since an attorney may be able to track down hidden assets or find other defendants with deeper pockets who share legal responsibility. Also, if you carry UM (uninsured motorist) coverage with your automobile insurance you may still be entitled to receiving compensation for your damages.

WILL I HAVE TO GO TO COURT IF I WANT TO RECOVER MONETARY DAMAGES?

The majority of cases are able to be resolved without the need of filing a lawsuit. Other cases, due to conflicting statements as to liability or because of questions concerning the amount of damages, may need a lawsuit to be filed. Although a lawsuit is filed, many cases still are resolved prior to reaching the steps of the court house.

WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY OFFERS ME A CHECK RIGHT AWAY?

Before you cash any checks or sign any documents be sure that you are aware of your legal rights and options. Accepting a check may mean that you are giving up your right to sue later on if you need extra medical care or you have to miss a lot of work. Consult an attorney before you negotiate with the insurance company.

WHAT IS A "STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?"

A statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on pursuing a legal remedy in relation to wrongful conduct. After the expiration of the statutory period, unless a legal exception applies, the injured person loses the right to file a lawsuit seeking money damages or other relief.

WHAT IS A STATUTE OF REPOSE?

A statute of repose is different from a statute of limitations, in that after the statutory period has expired it is not possible to file a lawsuit even if an injury occurs after that time. For example, if there is a twenty year statute of repose on the manufacture of aircraft, a claim cannot be filed against the manufacturer more than twenty years after the date of manufacture, even if a design or manufacturing defect is responsible for a later accident.

WHEN DOES THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OR THE TIME TO FILE A LAWSUIT BEGIN TO RUN?

A statute of limitations is said to start running at the time a claim accrues. Ordinarily, that is the time at which an injury is suffered.

CAN A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS BE TOLLED OR EXTENDED?

It may be possible to avoid the harsh result of a statute of limitation by arguing that the statute has been "tolled". When it is said that a statute is "tolled", it means that something has stopped the statute from running for a period of time. Typical reasons for tolling a statute of limitations include minority (the victim of the injury was a minor at the time the injury occurred), mental incompetence (the victim of the injury was not mentally competent at the time the injury occurred), and the defendant's bankruptcy (the "automatic stay" in bankruptcy ordinarily tolls the statute of limitations until such time as the bankruptcy is resolved or the stay is lifted). With the exception of medical malpractice actions, most claims for injuries sustained by a minor as a result of negligence must be brought within four years of the date of the injury. For injuries to a child under the age of eight resulting from medical malpractice, under Florida law the child must file suit by his or her eighth birthday or within the standard limitations period outlined above, whichever time period is greater.

WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE?

Negligence is the legal term for any careless behavior that causes, or contributes to an accident. For example, a person is negligent if he neglected to stop at a stop sign and, as a result, hit your car as you were coming through the intersection. A person can be considered negligent whenever he or she had a duty to act carefully and failed to do so. (Generally, we all have an obligation to act with ordinary and reasonable care in any given situation -- that is, in a manner that will not foreseeably injure those around us.) For most types of accidents, a person must be found negligent in order to be held legally responsible for another person's injuries. If a person behaves negligently and that behavior causes you harm, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries.

WHAT DOES MMI STAND FOR AND WHAT DOES MMI AND PERMANENT IMPAIRMENT RATING MEAN?

MMI stands for Maximum Medical Improvement. At the conclusion of your treatment with a doctor, we will request that he or she provide us with a final narrative report summarizing your medical treatment and condition. Once a physician has decided you are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), if your injuries have left you with an condition that will leave you with permanent physical limitations or a permanent anatomical defect, and the need for future treatment, you doctor will assign you with a permanent impairment rating. This is generally done pursuant to The American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines. A permanent impairment is required in order to be entitled to pain and suffering damages if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. While not required in a slip and fall case, it is helpful for an attorney to have in order to maximize your recovery.

CAN THE TIME I HAVE TO SUE BE LIMITED BY CONTRACT?

It is often possible to shorten a statutory limitations period by contract. For example, an employment contract might require that any claim relating to the employment relationship, including wrongful termination, be filed within one year of the claimed wrongful conduct. Courts often uphold these clauses, particularly in the context of business transactions, even though they provide for a shorter limitations period than the statute of limitations would otherwise apply.

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MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

CAN I RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEDICAL BILLS I INCUR IF IT’S MY FAULT FOR GETTING INJURED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?

Yes, if your car is licensed in the State of Florida. Then your automobile insurance coverage (also known as PIP coverage) will pay 80% of your medical bills (and 60% of your lost wages) up to $10,000.00 subject to any deductible you may have. You also may be entitled to coverage for the other 20% of medical bills incurred (and 40% of lost wages) if you also carry “med pay coverage.”

CAN I RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR MY LOST WAGES I INCUR IF IT’S MY FAULT FOR GETTING INJURED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?

Yes, if your car is licensed in the State of Florida. Then your automobile insurance coverage (also known as PIP coverage) will pay 60% of your lost wages (and 80% of your medical bills) up to $10,000.00 subject to any deductible you may have. You also may be entitled to coverage for the other 40% of your lost wages (and 20% of your medical bills incurred) if you also carry “med pay coverage.”

DO I NEED TO CALL THE POLICE IF THE DAMAGE TO MY CAR IS MINOR, I DO NOT BELIEVE I AM HURT, AND THE OTHER DRIVER HAS INDICATED IT’S HIS FAULT AND HE GIVES ME HIS INSURANCE INFORMATION?

YES! CALL THE POLICE. Do not agree with the at-fault driver if he wants to keep the police and insurance companies out of the matter. After the vehicles are moved, and if no police come and give the at-fault driver a traffic citation, the at –fault driver may change his story, making it difficult for you to prove he was at fault for the accident. Furthermore, it is very common to not notice injuries or feel pain until many hours after an accident, and sometimes days later. Failing to have documentation from a police officer at the scene of an accident may also make it difficult to support a claim for injuries.

HOW SOON DO I NEED TO BRING MY LEGAL CLAIM AGAINST THE OTHER DRIVER?

It is best to speak with an attorney right away. The time limits for taking legal action vary by state. In the state of Florida you have four years from the date of the crash in which to file a lawsuit.

WHAT IF THE OTHER DRIVER, WHO CAUSED THE ACCIDENT, HAS NO INSURANCE?

Even though your state may require all drivers to carry a certain level of auto insurance, that doesn’t mean that everyone follows the law. Florida does not require a driver to carry insurance to cover an injured persons medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering damages. This is why it is very important for Florida motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage so they are covered for these losses in the event they are injured by a motorist who is uninsured and who is carrying inadequate insurance coverage for the type of injuries you have suffered. Even if you are not carrying uninsured motorist coverage, consult with an attorney before abandoning a claim since an attorney may be able to track down hidden assets or find other defendants with deeper pockets who share legal responsibility.

ARE THERE PARTIES OTHER THAN THE AT-FAULT DRIVER AGAINST WHOM I CAN TAKE LEGAL ACTION?

In the State of Florida, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for damages. Therefore, if the owner of the car is different from the driver, and he has insurance, you may be entitled to damages under his insurance policy. Furthermore, if the accident occurred because the other driver was drunk, and a business served alcohol to the visibly intoxicated driver before the accident, the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol may be liable for your damages. If a defect in one of the autos caused or worsened the accident, the vehicle manufacturer may be responsible for the injuries that resulted. If a third party left debris in the road or caused one of the drivers involved in the accident to undertake a risky driving maneuver to avoid collision, these parties may also be responsible. Always consult an attorney to make sure you have pursued all avenues of recovery. WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENCE? You have four years to bring a personal injury claim.

SLIP/TRIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS/PREMISES LIABILITY

CAN I RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT FOR MEDICAL BILLS I INCUR IF IT’S MY FAULT FOR GETTING INJURED ON SOMEONE ELSE’S PROPERTY?

Yes, sometimes. Ask the homeowner or property owner for the name of their insurance company, the policy number, claim number if a claim has already been set up, and a telephone number for their agent or claims adjuster. Then contact the agent or adjuster and find out if they have “med pay coverage.” This type of coverage will pay for your medical bills, up to a certain amount, even if you are at fault for the accident.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO PROVE TO HOLD A PROPERTY OWNER NEGLIGENT FOR MY FALL AND RESULTING INJURIES?

You will need to prove that your fall was caused by negligence on the part of the homeowner, business, or governmental entity responsible for maintaining the property. One key factor will be proving that the condition that caused you to fall had been on the premises for a significant length of time that the party knew or should have known of its existence. There might not be any negligence if the dangerous condition that led you to fall did not exist until shortly before your accident.

WHAT IS AN "INVITEE?"

Florida has defined an invitee as someone who is either a public invitee or a business visitor. A public invitee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. A business visitor is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of land.

WHAT IS THE STANDARD OF CARE OWED TO AN INVITEE?

To use reasonable care in keeping and maintaining the premises in a reasonably safe condition; and to give the invitee warning of concealed perils which are known or should be known to the landowner, and which are unknown to the invite and cannot be discovered by him through the exercise of due care.

WHAT IS THE DUTY OF A LANDLORD?

A lessor of a residential dwelling has a duty to reasonably inspect the premises before allowing the lessee to take possession. The landlord must repair any dangerous condition that he knows or should know about after a reasonable inspection, or the landlord must warn the tenant of such condition before the tenant takes possession of the premises. Furthermore, the landlord has a continuing duty to repair the premises upon notice from the tenant of dangerous conditions that can cause injury to the tenant of others.

CAN A PERSON RECOVER FROM A STORE FOR INJURIES SUSTAINED WHEN HE OR SHE SLIPPED ON A SPILLED LIQUID AND FELL?

Whether a person (classified as an invitee) injured in a slip and fall accident at a retail store can recover from that store depends on the specific facts of the case. Generally, stores have a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property, including the floors, reasonably safe for customers. The store has a duty to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions and to make them safe, and employees should routinely inspect areas the public uses to discover any potentially dangerous conditions, such as a spill. If the spilled liquid was so obvious and visible that the customer should reasonably have seen it, the store does not have a duty to warn. However, a spill might not be considered obvious if a store's display distracts a customer and the customer does not see the spill.

IF A PROPERTY OWNER VIOLATED A BUILDING REGULATION, CAN A PLAINTIFF USE THIS EVIDENCE TO PROVE HIS OR HER SLIP AND FALL CASE?

Yes. If a property owner violated a relevant building code regulation or statute, the plaintiff can use this evidence to establish negligence on the part of the property owner. A property owner must comply with applicable building codes. For example, building codes often dictate where handrails must be installed and how high they should be. If you fall on a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack of the handrail caused your injuries, the fact that the property owner violated the applicable building regulation can be used to establish negligence.

WHO ARE POTENTIAL RESPONSIBLE PARTIES IN A SLIP AND FALL CASE?

There may be more than one person or entity that may be held responsible for injuries you suffered in a slip and fall accident. For example, if a store rents retail space from a property owner, both the owner and the store (the tenant) may be named as defendants. In that example, the tenant store is the possessor of the property. In addition, if the property owner tasked a management company with managing or maintaining the property, that management company may also be named as a defendant.

CAN MY RECOVERY BE REDUCED IF I AM FOUND TO BE PARTIALLY AT FAULT FOR MY SLIP AND FALL INJURIES?

Yes. If an injured person is partially at fault for his or her own injury, but the landowner is also at fault, he or she might still be able to recover from the landowner, but the amount of damages may be reduced by the percentage that you are found liable.

WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER IN A SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT CASE?

A slip and fall case is a type of personal injury case. As with other personal injury cases, you may be able to recover damages for your out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, the cost of prescription drugs, physical therapy and medical equipment. If you have to miss work because of your injuries, you may also be able to recover lost wages you have incurred and may reasonably incur in the future. If you will need to have medical treatment in the future, you may be able to recover the expenses that you may reasonably incur. You may also be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and physical impairment you have incurred or will incur in the future.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENCE?

You have four years to bring a personal injury claim.

DOG BITE/ANIMAL ATTACKS

IF A DOG BITES ME, IS THE OWNER OF A DOG RESPONSIBLE IF IT’S THE DOG’S FIRST ATTACK?

Yes. In the state of Florida, the owner of a dog is held strictly liable for any attacks or bites by his dog regardless of any prior notice of the dog’s viciousness. The only defenses available is if a “Bad Dog” sign was clearly visible or if the dog was provoked.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENCE?

You have four years to bring a personal injury claim.

MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

I DO NOT BELIEVE I GOT PROPER MEDICAL CARE FROM MY PHYSICIAN, BUT I AM OK NOW, DO I HAVE CLAIM FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Medical malpractice cases tend to be expensive and difficult to win. Most attorneys specializing in medical malpractice cases will not even represent a client unless they have been left with a catastrophic permanent injury as a result of negligent care received from a doctor. The fact that a medical procedure failed to deliver a desired result is not on its known enough to establish medical malpractice. You must show that the quality of care provided was below the standard of care in the community.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

You have 2 years from the date of the act giving rise to injury, or within two years from the date the injury was or should have been detected, but no malpractice action may be commenced more than four years following the act giving rise to the injury. These limitations apply to minors aged eight or older.

GENERAL NEGLIGENCE

I BELIEVE I RECEIVED FOOD POISONING FROM A MEAL I HAD AT A RESTAURANT, IS THIS WORTH PURSUING?

Food poisoning cases often are not worth pursuing. Even if you suspect that a particular restaurant meal was to blame, it’s very difficult to prove, and food poisoning typically passes in a day or so. However, if you have a life-threatening infection, such as salmonella or E. coli, your case may be worth pursing and you should contact an attorney.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR NEGLIGENCE?

You have four years to bring a personal injury claim.

WRONGFUL DEATH

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?

An action for wrongful death must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues.

WHO CAN BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH ACTION?

The personal representative must seek recovery for the claims of the estate and each individual survivor. All of the survivors and the decedent’s estate seeking recovery in the wrongful death action must be identified in the complaint and their relationships must be alleged. Individuals generally who may be entitled to claim damages for the loss of a loved one, would be the decedent’s spouse, children of the decedent, parent’s of a deceased child under 25 (however if the child was over 25, they can only recover if there were no other survivors), adopted children, children born out of wedlock of a mother but not a father, a posthumous child (a child who is unborn at the time of the parent’s death) and decedent’s blood relatives and siblings.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DAMAGES I MAY BE ENTITLED TO IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?

Each survivor in a wrongful death action may recover the value of lost support and services. A surviving spouse, minor children, and in some cases adult children, may recover damages for loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance. The surviving spouse, minor children, adult children when there is no surviving spouse of the decedent, each parent of a deceased minor child and the parents of an adult child when there are no other survivors may recover for their pain and suffering caused by the decedent’s death. A survivor who has paid all or part of the medical and funeral expenses that were incurred as a result of the decedent’s injury or death may be awarded an amount to compensate him for that expense. The estate may recover the “future accumulations” for the estate; i.e., the present value of the decedent’s probable future net earnings. Punitive damages may also be recovered.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

WHAT MUST I PROVE IN A PRODUCTS LIABILITY ACTION?

You must prove that (1) a defect was present in the product; (2) that the defect in the product caused your injuries; and (3) that the defect in the product existed at the time the manufacturer, retailer, or supplier parted with possession of the product.

WHO CAN I SUE IN A PRODUCT LIABILITY CASE?

In addition to the manufacturer of the product, other potential entities to sue may include the retailer, wholesaler, and distributor of the product.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIM?

You have four years to file a product liability action.

VARIOUS OTHER STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR FRAUD?

You have four years to bring a claim for fraud.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR LIBEL, SLANDER, OR DEFAMATION?

You have two years to bring an action for libel, slander, or defamation.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR DAMAGES TO PERSONAL PROPERTY?

You have four years to bring an action for damages to personal property.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS IN FLORIDA, OR THE AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE TO BRING A CLAIM FOR DAMAGES ARISING FROM A CONTRACT?

For written contracts it is 5 years, and four years for an oral contract. Actions for specific performance must be commenced within one year.

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Location: Regions Bank Building | 450 North Park Road | Suite 800 - Penthouse Hollywood, FL 33021
Phone: (954) 923-3603 Fax: (954) 923-3803 Email the firm

The Law Office of Steven S. Farbman, P.A. is available to represent people in Hollywood and throughout South Florida, including Hallandale, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Dania Beach, Pembroke Pines, Miami, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Hialeah, Coral Springs, Delray Beach, Plantation, Davie, Sunny Isles and all cities within Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County, FL, and nationwide.