Your Orlando Personal Injury Case: The Basics
While Orlando may be the city of magic, the Magic, fun, beaches, and games, it still has its fair share of accidents and injuries that, unfortunately, rain on many a parade. When this happens, victims may be left wondering what's next and where to turn to for compensation in the event that they are injured due to another person's carelessness. This article is here to provide general information about personal injury cases in Orlando, to help get the injured get back on the road to recovery.
Your first order of business after any injury is to make sure that your emergency medical needs are attended to. Call 911 if necessary and make your health your number one priority. After addressing those concerns, however, you may wish to jot down notes about the accident, get the contact information of any witnesses, and take photographs of the accident scene. These pieces of information can help preserve and build your case down the road should you elect to take legal action. Check out the FindLaw section on First Steps After An Injury for more tips.
You will likely be dealing in some capacity with insurance companies (yours, the other party's, or both) in the aftermath of a personal injury. In some cases, personal injury claims can be resolved with insurance adjusters to everyone's satisfaction. However, if you run into a problem with an insurer and want to file a complaint, you may do so through the Florida Division of Consumer Services.
Bringing Legal Action
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may consider filing a lawsuit. This will likely be at the Orange County Courthouse on 425 N. Orange Avenue. For amounts in controversy over $15,000, your case will be in the circuit civil court division, for $15,000 or less, in the county civil court division, and for amounts under $5,000 you can be heard in the small claims division.
Keep in mind that there are deadlines within which you must file a suit or be barred forever from doing so. These are called Statutes of Limitations and they vary by state and cause of action. In Orlando and the rest of the state, you generally have four years to being a negligence action. Note, however, that you have shorter periods in some injury actions -- for example, in cases of medical malpractice or wrongful death you have 2 years. Be sure to consult the statute of limitation relevant to your specific case so you don't miss the deadline.
Most personal injury claims are based on one party claiming that the other party was negligent. To act negligently is essentially to act carelessly and for that carelessness to cause or contribute to harm to another.
In many cases, however, both parties are somewhat negligent -- what happens then? In a few states if you are even 1% negligent you are precluded from pursuing a claim. In Orlando and the rest of the Florida, however, you can still pursue your claim even when you were partially at fault, although your recovery will be reduced proportionately. So, for example, if you were 20% at fault and had $10,000 worth of damages, you would still be able to recover $8,000 or 80% from the other party.
What Can You Recover?
Generally in a personal injury action, the party bringing suit requests "damages" (economic recovery) from the defendant. Damages can include such items as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. Refer to the FindLaw section on Injury Damages for more information.
What If Your Injury Happened At Work?
If you sustained your injury while working, your case will likely proceed through the separate workers' compensation system. Be sure to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, but not later than 30 days after it occurs. You may contact the Division of Workers' Compensation Employee Assistance & Ombudsman Office at 800-342-1741 for help, or you may have your question answered by referring to the Frequently Asked Questions.
Getting An Attorney
No matter how or where your injury occurred, you may want to at least consult with an injury attorney to assess your case. In many cases attorneys will offer a free initial consultation and if you decide to work together, will arrange for legal fees on a contingency basis, meaning that fees will be paid out of your recovery.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.