Your best friend calls you from Tampa General Hospital. She was just injured at the Hillsborough River while engaging in another one of her weekly "extreme sporting activities." Something about Class II rapids, rough waters, and some idiot in a canoe not following safety rules. She'll never learn, will she? You let her rant on for several minutes before you start doing your own research.
You pull out your smartphone and search for information. There are so many types of personal injury scenarios in Tampa. Let's see, work injures, defective products, medical malpractice, dog bites -- the list is virtually endless.
Here's some general information to help guide you through the process of a personal injury case in Hillsborough County.
Seek Medical Attention
If you are injured, no matter what the circumstances, talk to your doctor. Your health should always come first and foremost. Try not to minimize any pain or suffering you're feeling. If you get hurt at work, contact the Florida Division of Workers' Compensation.
Begin to collect evidence to help your case. Speak to witnesses, keep a journal, and take photos. Here are some things to think about:
Contact a Lawyer
If you aren't sure what to do, a lawyer may be able to help. Lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, you don't pay anything upfront. The lawyer only gets paid if you win your case. A settlement is considered a "win" and your attorney will most likely be entitled to collect their fees.
General Outline of a Florida Personal Injury Case
Unless you have been a party to a lawsuit before, it is difficult to know what to expect when you have been injured in a collision or incident. Here's a general description:
Florida's Negligence Laws: Pure Comparative Negligence
In order to win your case, you must prove the defendant was negligent or "at fault" for your injuries. There are a number of different ways to prove fault. It will depend on the particular circumstances.
Florida uses a pure comparative negligence rule. If you are partially responsible for the incident that caused your injuries, then your potential award at trial is reduced.
Basically, you can recover even if you are 99 percent at fault, although your recovery is reduced by your degree of fault. Here, it would be 1 percent of the jury's verdict (because you are 99% at fault).
What kind of damages can I claim in a lawsuit?
If you can prove another person was at fault for injuring you, you may be entitled to be compensated for your losses. Here are some examples:
The Clock is Ticking...
The standard time limit for most personal injury claims in Florida is four years from the date of the incident causing the harm. There are some exceptions for minors and mentally impaired persons. Remember, even if you have a legitimate claim you may be unable to ever receive compensation for an accident if you file too late.
If you do decide to sue, your lawyer will provide details about where and when to appear in court. Here's a list of courthouses in Tampa.
Keep in mind, what happens in court is nothing like what you see on television. Tough-as-nails Judge Judy won't be presiding over your case, nor will you encounter Spencer Tracy on your jury of 12 angry men. Personal injury cases can be long and drawn out and many times, uneventful. For more information, speak to your attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.