If you or a loved one has recently been hurt in an accident, you might be wondering what to do about the medical bills that have begun piling up. You might also be unsure about your legal options or how to move forward with a case to receive compensation for your injuries. Fortunately, a Jacksonville personal injury attorney can help you fight for your legal rights and obtain the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyers of The Law Offices of Randy Reep
Attorney Randy Reep, along with his team of lawyers, provides each and every client with personalized representation. At the Law Offices of Randy Reep, we pride ourselves on our unique ability to truly connect with our clients and give them top-notch legal representation.
We understand how challenging the days following a severe accident or injury are—and we are committed to helping our clients navigate the legal aspects of this difficult time period in their lives. Our attorneys are aggressive advocates for justice who have successfully helped many individuals receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
If you were injured and believe someone else was at fault for your injuries, we would be happy to speak with you and help you learn more about your legal options.
An Introduction to Personal Injury Cases
Before you can determine if you should pursue a personal injury case, you must first understand what a personal injury case is. It is also helpful to understand the litigation process involved in filing a personal injury case so that you know what to expect after you hire an attorney in Jacksonville, FL and as your case moves forward.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
When someone is harmed due to an accident or an injury, they can file a personal injury lawsuit to compensate for the harm they suffered. Typically, the injured person will need to prove that the other party’s negligence caused their injury. For example, if you were shopping at a store and slipped and fell, the store may be legally liable for your injuries if they were negligent in some way.
The term “personal injury lawsuit” refers to the legal dispute between the injured party and the at-fault party. In some cases, a Jacksonville injury attorney can settle with the other party (often through their insurance carrier) without the need to formally file the case.
However, you may not be offered a settlement, or if you are, you may not think it is worth accepting. In that case, your Jacksonville personal injury attorneys can file your lawsuit in court and begin the litigation process on your behalf. If you believe you may have a personal injury case, it is always a good idea to speak with a local personal injury lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida as soon as possible.
What Types of Personal Injury Cases Are There?
When most people think of personal injury cases, car accidents and slip and fall accidents are often the first things to come to mind. However, there are many other different types of cases that involve the pursuit of compensation for personal injuries caused by the fault of another party.
Some other examples of personal injury cases include nursing home or assisted living facility injury cases, medical malpractice cases, motorcycle accident cases, and dog bite cases. If you have been injured due to the fault of someone else, you should meet with attorneys in Jacksonville to learn more about whether you may have a personal injury case.
Car Accident Personal Injury Cases
Car accidents on the roadway are, unfortunately, a common occurrence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 38,680 deaths occurred in the United States in 2020 caused by motor vehicle accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also found that the main factors contributing to these fatalities on the roadway were speeding, impaired driving, and failure to wear a seat belt. Even though Americans were driving less often in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is still the highest number of fatalities on the roadway since 2007.
Although car accidents are common, you are never truly prepared for the aftermath of a serious collision on the roadway. After a car accident, the most important thing to do is seek medical care if you are injured.
Suppose the negligence of another driver caused the car accident. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation that includes payment of past and future medical bills for your injuries. You may also be entitled to compensation for time off work due to your injuries and, in some cases, compensation for future lost wages.
Slip and Fall Cases
Injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident can range from minor to very severe—potentially even requiring surgery to heal fully. Slip and fall cases are typically premise liability cases. The plaintiff (injured person) must prove specific facts or elements of the law to hold someone else legally responsible for their injuries.
One of the first steps in assessing a slip and fall case is determining who is liable for the injuries. There are two main ways for your attorneys in Jacksonville, Florida to prove that another party was negligent; and therefore, at fault for your slip and fall injuries.
Proving Legal Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
The first way to prove legal liability in this type of case is to demonstrate that the property owner should have noticed a dangerous condition and should have repaired it or otherwise removed it—but failed to do so. Under this theory of negligence, the main question is whether or not a reasonable person would have considered the condition hazardous and whether they had a reasonable opportunity to fix the situation before your accident.
Another way to prove that the property owner was negligent and legally responsible for your injuries is to demonstrate that they caused the dangerous condition on the property—and also that it was reasonably foreseeable that a person could slip and fall as a result. If you can prove these facts, then your case should be successful.
When proving liability in premise liability cases, keep in mind that it does not necessarily need to be the individual property owner who should have noticed the dangerous condition or who caused the dangerous condition. Rather, an agent or employee of the property owner could have acted negligently on their behalf—still leaving them liable for your injuries.
Other Considerations in Slip and Fall Cases
When filing a premise liability lawsuit, the proper party or parties must be named the defendants in your lawsuit. For this reason, it is to your benefit to hire an attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, who has experience handling premises liability lawsuits. In your case, the defendant or defendants may be an individual property owner, a corporation, or a business. Your lawyer will be able to investigate the matter and ensure that the proper parties are named in the lawsuit.
Another thing that you should be aware of when it comes to premise liability cases involving slip and fall accidents is that the defendant may use the defense that you were at fault for your own injury. This theory is referred to as comparative fault. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that your ability to receive compensation for your injuries is reduced by your percentage of fault.
Motorcycle Accident Cases
Accidents on the roadways that involve motorcycles can be particularly dangerous and deadly. Injuries resulting from these types of accidents can be catastrophic and life-changing. For this reason, it is beneficial for you to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida to learn more about your legal options if you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 84,000 motorcyclists were injured on the roadways in the United States in 2019. Additionally, 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in collisions this same year. Of all motor vehicle accident fatalities for 2019, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of these deaths.
Personal Injury Lawsuits for Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists who have been injured in a collision on the roadways can pursue a claim for damages to receive compensation for their injuries. Experienced lawyers in Jacksonville, FL can help injured motorcyclists achieve a settlement or award to compensate them for expenses, like their medical bills.
Other damages that can be recovered include lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Although many cases settle before going to court, your motorcycle accident attorneys in Jacksonville, Florida can take your case to trial if necessary to fight for your legal right to compensation for your injuries.
Nursing Home Injury Cases
Another type of personal injury case involves injuries sustained in nursing homes, typically by elderly residents. When the nursing home (or its staff members) are negligent or reckless while taking care of the residents or patients, they can be held legally liable for the injuries caused by these actions or omissions.
An attorney in Jacksonville, FL can help you or your loved one if you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse is occurring. Be sure to contact a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options moving forward.
Dog Bite Cases
In Florida, when a dog bites and injures someone, the owner of the dog may be held legally liable for their injuries. Florida law states that a dog owner will be liable for injuries caused to another person when their dog bites another person, and the person is either in a public place or lawfully in a private place. This can include the property of the dog owner.
Florida’s dog bite laws involve strict liability. Strict liability for these cases means that the dog owner is liable if their dog bites another person, even if the owner did not have any prior knowledge or warning that their dog could possibly become vicious and bite.
Keep in mind that Florida’s strict liability dog bite law only applies to injuries caused by a bite from a dog. If you were injured in some other way by a dog—for example, falling and hurting yourself while being chased by a dog—then the standard negligence laws apply to your personal injury case.
Medical Malpractice Cases
Another type of personal injury case is a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice cases involve injuries caused by doctors or other medical providers. To be successful in these cases, you will need to prove that a physician did not meet the appropriate standard of care, which caused your injuries.
Establishing Medical Negligence
The majority of medical malpractice cases are brought under a theory of negligence, in that the medical professional was negligent while treating the patient. In order to successfully establish medical negligence, as the plaintiff, you must prove:
- There was a duty of care owed to the patient (plaintiff) by the health care professional;
- The applicable standard of care, and that the health care professional deviated from that standard of care, constituting a breach of the duty owed to the patient;
- The causal connection between the deviation from the standard of care by the health care professional and the patient’s injury;
- That the patient suffered an injury.
For a medical professional to be found negligent in a malpractice case, the plaintiff must show that the medical professional’s conduct was below a standard of care that is generally accepted. Since the plaintiff has the burden of proof at trial, he or she will need to establish the standard of care that should have been applied.
Establishing the Standard of Care
To establish the standard of care, the plaintiff will need the testimony of another medical expert. The testifying expert must be qualified in the same area of medicine as the medical professional defendant.
The expert must testify regarding the standard of care commonly met and accepted by those in that profession. Additionally, to prove their case, the plaintiff will also need to demonstrate that the medical professional defendant failed to meet the appropriate standard of care.
Medical malpractice cases can be highly complex and expensive since an expert witness must establish the standard of care and how the defendant breached that standard. If your personal injuries occurred as a result of medical malpractice, be sure to confirm that any personal injury attorney you are thinking about hiring actually handles medical malpractice cases prior to scheduling a consultation.
What Should I Do After Suffering a Personal Injury?
If you or a loved one has been injured due to someone else’s fault, you should consider meeting with an attorney in Jacksonville to determine if you have a personal injury case. Since these types of accidents and injuries are usually unexpected, you might not be prepared for what to do next. Below are some steps to take following an injury so that you can protect yourself and your legal right to compensation.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured in An Accident?
If you are hurt in an accident, the most important thing to do is to seek medical treatment immediately. After an accident, it is crucial to be checked out by a doctor, even if you do not think you suffered any major injuries.
It is not unusual for people to be involved in an accident and go home, thinking they are fine and not realizing until later that they actually suffered significant injuries. Adrenaline can cause you to fail to notice pain and other symptoms immediately following the accident. When it comes to your health, it is better to err on the side of caution and seek medical treatment.
Document As Much as Possible
After receiving any necessary emergency medical care following an accident or injury—or if your injuries are not severe enough to need emergency care—it is helpful to take pictures of the accident scene. If there were any witnesses to the accident or injury incident, be sure to obtain and write down their contact information. Your Jacksonville personal injury lawyers may need to contact these witnesses down the road for your personal injury case.
Be Prepared for Phone Calls from Insurance Adjusters
In some cases, an insurance adjuster working with the insurance carrier for the at-fault party may contact you shortly after the accident. The insurance adjuster may offer you a settlement in order to get the matter resolved quickly. While a settlement offer may seem like a fair amount of money at the time, there can be severe consequences to hastily accepting the offer.
For example, suppose you were offered a settlement of $5,000 a day or two after the accident to resolve the matter entirely. If you did not suffer any major injuries and currently feel just fine—that offer might seem like a pretty good deal.
However, if you accepted the offer and realized after another week or two that you were still in pain and needed to go visit your doctor, you cannot turn around and make the other insurance company pay your bills. It is almost always a better idea to hold off on agreeing to an early settlement until you have had a chance to get medical treatment and learn more about the severity of any possible injuries. Additionally, it can be beneficial to speak with a law firm of attorneys in Jacksonville about your case just to learn more about its true value.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney – Jacksonville, Florida
Finally, once you have gotten any urgent medical treatment and gathered and documented any available information from the scene of the incident, it is time to think about hiring a personal injury lawyer Jacksonville. Even if you are not sure if you want to pursue a personal injury case, a personal injury lawyer in Jacksonville, FL can meet with you and explain your legal options to you, so that you can make a fully informed decision.
How Do I Choose the Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Jacksonville, FL?
When you are ready to hire an attorney to represent you in your personal injury case, it is essential to do your research beforehand. While there are many lawyers in Jacksonville, FL, you will want to find the one that is the best fit for you and for your case.
How to Research and Choose a Personal Injury Attorney
Finding the best personal injury lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida may seem like a difficult task. Before you make the decision of who to hire to represent you, you should do some basic research to ensure that you are making the right choice.
What to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most critical factors in choosing a personal injury attorney is their experience level. Some attorneys in Jacksonville, FL practice in every possible area of the law, while others narrow down their practice areas and focus their efforts on handling matters within this narrowed down category.
Experience and Skills
When looking for a personal injury attorney, you should consider their experience level with cases similar to yours. This does not necessarily mean hiring the oldest attorney you can find. In fact, many younger attorneys have focused their practice in just a few limited areas of law—such as personal injury— and have extensive litigation experience in court.
The Location of The Law Office
Another factor to consider when choosing a personal injury lawyer for your case is the location of the law office of the attorneys in Jacksonville, FL. The location of your attorney’s office is important for two reasons.
First, you will likely need to go to their office from time to time throughout your case, so you do not want to choose a lawyer at a law firm that is far away from you and an inconvenience to travel to. The second reason the location is important is that you will want to choose an attorney local to you who is familiar with the court in which your case will be filed.
It is advantageous for you to choose a lawyer familiar with the local court rules and the judges who may be assigned to your case. If you live in the Jacksonville area, choosing a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, FL is an excellent idea.
Read Reviews from Past Clients
You should also consider the reputation of the attorney and their law firm. Looking online for reviews is a great place to start finding out about other people’s experiences with that attorney. Online reviews and reviews from trusted family and friends can be very useful for helping you find the best personal injury lawyer Jacksonville, FL.
However, keep in mind that some negative reviews that you see might be from people who lost their cases and blame the lawyer for the loss. More than likely, it was not the lawyer’s fault the case was unsuccessful—sometimes, the facts fall more in favor of the other side. No lawyer can give a 100% guarantee of success for any case.
Determine How Much It Will Cost to Hire the Attorney
In general, when looking for an attorney, you will need to consider your budget. Some attorneys charge higher hourly rates than others, so you will need to make sure that you hire an attorney in Jacksonville, Florida that does not charge more than you can afford.
However, when it comes to personal injury cases, most lawyers accept these cases on a contingency basis. This fee arrangement means that you will not pay any money upfront. You will only owe attorney fees for your case if it is successful and your lawyer achieves a settlement offer or a trial award in your favor. Attorney fees and costs will be paid as a specific percentage of your settlement or award—one that you will have agreed upon together before your attorney begins representing you.
At The Law Offices of Randy Reep, we do not charge any upfront fees for personal injury cases, and we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. You will only need to pay us if we successfully achieve a settlement or trial award for you.
What Do I Need to do Before My Consultation with a Jacksonville Attorney?
Once you have done your research and decided to schedule a consultation with a lawyer in Jacksonville, FL, you might be wondering how to prepare for the meeting. In order to make the most of your time, there are a few things you can do beforehand to prepare.
Find Out Whether You Will Be Charged a Consultation Fee
First, you should know whether or not there will be a fee for the consultation. Most personal injury attorneys in Jacksonville, Florida do not charge a personal injury case consultation fee since these cases are typically handled on a contingency fee basis.
Our personal injury consultations are always free at The Law Offices of Randy Reep. We also offer free consultations for many other types of cases, including family law, bankruptcy, and DUI and criminal cases. If you are thinking about moving forward with a personal injury case, we would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss how we can help you get compensation for your injuries.
What to Bring to the Meeting with Your Personal Injury Lawyer
Prior to your initial consultation with an accident lawyer in Jacksonville, FL, it is helpful to gather some important documents. These documents include any of the medical records that you can obtain, police reports, pictures or video taken of the scene of the accident and your injuries, and any documents with names and contact information for any witnesses. You should also bring in copies of any insurance policies that you have so that your Jacksonville lawyers have this information if needed for your case.
Medical Bills and Treatment Records
It is also helpful to bring in any medical bills that you have received for treatment for your injuries. If you do not have medical bills or records yet, you should make a list of doctors and providers you have seen for treatment. In that case, your Jacksonville, Florida attorneys will have you sign a consent form to authorize your lawyers to order your medical records directly from the medical providers.
Health Insurance Documents and Information
Additionally, if you have health insurance or Medicare, you should bring in your insurance card and information for your Jacksonville, FL lawyers to make a copy of for your file. If your case settles, your attorneys will need to determine if any of your medical bills were paid for by your health insurance carrier. If so, typically, you will need to reimburse your health insurance carrier for the bills that they paid if you recover compensation from the at-fault party for them.
What Are the Next Steps After Hiring a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney?
Now that you have hired a personal injury attorney to handle your case, you may be wondering what to expect going forward. Hiring an attorney has many benefits.
One of these benefits is that you will no longer have to speak with insurance companies or handle other time-consuming tasks related to your case. Your personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, Florida will now address these types of matters on your behalf.
What Can I Expect After I Hire a Jacksonville, Florida Attorney to Handle My Case?
If you choose to move forward with your claim for personal injuries after your consultation with a personal injury attorney in Jacksonville, FL, the process will be easier and less stressful for you if you have an idea of what to expect. Of course, the next steps for your case will depend on what stage of the case you are in when you hire your attorney.
The best time to hire a personal injury attorney is as soon as possible after the accident. When you hire an attorney shortly after your accident or injury, you can take some of the stress off your plate and focus on healing from your injuries. Your Jacksonville lawyer will deal with the insurance companies for you and put together your case.
Settling Your Personal Injury Case
When you have finished receiving medical treatment, typically, your lawyer will order all of your medical records and bills. After this task has been completed, your lawyer will review all of the facts of your case and evaluate its value.
Next, your lawyer will put together a settlement demand package to send to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier or attorney. Often, this will include copies of your medical records and bills and other supporting documents that help prove your case. From there, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement in your case.
As the client, you will always have final approval regarding any settlement offers. Your lawyer will be able to offer you guidance and advice about the fairness of any offers. He or she can help you decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer by providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision—but it will ultimately be your choice.
While each case is different, many personal injury cases settle during this phase of the process. Simply hiring a personal injury attorney to handle your case does not necessarily mean that your case will go to trial. You may be able to reach a settlement with the other side that you feel is fair and fully compensates you for your injuries.
What Will Happen If Your Case Does Not Settle
If you do not want to accept the final settlement offer or if there is no offer made at all, the next step, generally, is for your lawyer to draft a complaint. Your lawyer will then file the complaint in the appropriate court.
Filing a Complaint for Your Personal Injury Case
A complaint is a legal pleading that sets forth some of the basic facts of your lawsuit, along with your allegations against the at-fault party, who will be the defendant of the case. Depending on the facts of your case and who was at fault for your accident or injuries, your Jacksonville, FL attorney will file the complaint against another individual, corporation, government entity, or business. As the injured party filing the lawsuit, you will become the plaintiff of the case.
Generally, your personal injury case will be filed in civil court, either in the county in which the defendant resides or in the county in which the accident occurred. If you have questions regarding the initial case filing process, your lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida will be able to help you better understand the process.
What Should I Expect If My Personal Injury Case Goes to Trial?
At some point in the negotiation process, your attorney in Jacksonville, FL may advise you that the other party, through their attorney or insurance company, has tendered their final settlement offer. Typically, at this stage in the process, you will need to either accept their last settlement offer and resolve your case or file a complaint in civil court and move forward with litigation.
Before you make a final decision, you can certainly discuss the settlement offer with your attorney in Jacksonville, FL. Your lawyer will be able to give you their assessment of the settlement offer, including how fair they believe the offer is considering the facts of your case and what the risks will be of filing the lawsuit and going forward with litigation.
It is crucial that you make a fully informed decision about whether or not to accept the offer since rejecting it can mean that any settlement is completely off the table, and your case must go to trial.
What Happens in the Discovery Phase of Litigation?
After your personal injury attorney files your complaint in the appropriate civil court, the at-fault party or parties (defendants) must file an answer to the complaint with the court. The defendant’s answer will include responses to the allegations in your complaint, and they will admit or deny some (or all) of your allegations and facts stated in the complaint.
The Defendant Must Answer Your Complaint and May Raise Affirmative Defenses
The defendant’s answer may also contain affirmative defenses. Affirmative defenses that the defendant may raise in a personal injury case include contributory negligence/comparative fault, and assumption of the risk.
Essentially, a defendant will raise an affirmative defense if there are facts that tend to show that you also contributed to your injury in some way. If you are found to share some of the fault for your injuries, then an eventual award of compensation at trial will be reduced in accordance with the percentage of your fault.
The Discovery Phase of Litigation
The next stage of litigation of your case involves exchanging information between you, the plaintiff, and the other party, the defendant. This practice is referred to as discovery. During this stage of the process, you will likely send the other party questions which they must answer under oath, called interrogatories. The other party will also send interrogatories to you.
Additionally, both parties will also typically send each other requests for production. Requests for production require the parties to produce any documents, pictures, video, and other items that are asked for.
The discovery phase may also include depositions to be taken of the parties and witnesses of the accident and other individuals who have information relevant to your case. Following the discovery phase, your case will ultimately be set for trial.
The Trial Phase and Conclusion of Your Case
After your lawyers handle some preliminary matters before the court, the day of your trial will finally arrive. Your lawyer will present your case before the court, with either a jury or the judge as the fact finders. The other party will also get to put on their defense in court.
After the trial has concluded, either the judge or jury will reach a decision regarding liability. If the defendant is found not to be legally liable for your injuries, your attorney can file an appeal.
The Law Offices of Randy Reep – Personal Injury in Jacksonville, Florida
Since the litigation process can be complicated, it is always best to have an experienced and skilled attorney on your side. The personal injury attorneys of The Law Offices of Randy Reep have the expertise and knowledge needed to successfully handle your personal injury case from start to finish. We know what it takes to fight aggressively for the best results for our clients. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you obtain compensation for your personal injuries.