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Common Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions many of our clients ask regarding their personal injury claim. At the initial consultation, these areas are typically covered by the attorney. These questions and answers are not meant to be and should not be construed as legal advice. Please call our offices for more detailed information regarding your personal injury claim.

  1. Why do I need an attorney?
  2. Should I talk with an attorney right away?
  3. What types of personal injury cases does SeifertMiller handle?
  4. How can I afford to hire an attorney?
  5. Who will pay my medical bills?
  6. Should I settle my claim if the insurance company offers to pay my bills?
  7. Tell me how much my claim is worth.
  8. Will I have to file a lawsuit to recover?
  9. Are there time limits on personal injury claims?
  10. How long will it take to resolve my claim?
  11. What about claims with my own insurance company?
  12. What are some examples of claims against my own insurance company?
  13. Am I required to give a statement to my insurance company?
  14. Do I have to pay my attorney in an insurance dispute?

 

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1. Why do I need an attorney?
When you are injured because of some other party's carelessness, adjusters representing the insurance company are professionally trained to resolve your claim at the lowest cost to the company. These professionals are not looking out for your best interests. The claims process can be complicated. They will be taking statements, gathering evidence and talking with witnesses. It is in your best interest to have a professional working on your side. The attorneys at SM will be happy to talk with you about your personal injury claim and would be privileged to represent and guide you through the process.

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2. Should I talk with an attorney right away?
You have certain valuable legal rights when you are involved in an accident. It is very important for you to protect those rights. Speaking with an attorney at your earliest convenience may assist you and help you understand your rights under your any insurance policy you may have as well as the policy of the person or company at fault. The insurance company will want to take your statement and gather evidence. It is important for you to have legal representation at this time. The attorney can protect your interests and advise you with regard to statements to the insurance company and can also begin to investigate the facts of the accident, locate witnesses and assist you in filling out necessary forms and documents.

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3. What types of personal injury cases does SeifertMiller handle?
The attorneys at SM handle a wide range of personal injury matters. These include injuries or deaths resulting from automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, negligent maintenance of property, negligent security, slip and falls, medical malpractice, boating accidents and even dog bites. We aggressively pursue the party at fault to effect a resolution of the claim on behalf of our clients and look forward to talking with you about your claim.

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4. How can I afford to hire an attorney?
The attorneys at SM accept personal injury cases on a contingency fee contract basis. This means that unless our office recovers on your behalf, you do not owe us any attorney fees. If there is a recovery on your behalf, the attorney fee is based on a percentage of the gross recovery. Typically, the fee is 33 1/3% of the gross recovery if a lawsuit does not need to be filed. If a claim is contested and a lawsuit is required, the fee is typically 40% of the gross recovery. In addition to fees, there are certain costs which are also deducted from the gross recovery if we are successful in resolving your claim. The amount of the costs vary from case to case and depend on the amount of medical or other records which need to be gathered as well as the complexity of the case and if a lawsuit needs to be filed. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. In almost all cases, SM will advance the costs and deduct these expenses (you are provided an itemization at the close your case) from the gross recovery. This type of contract has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court and is the way most trial lawyers handle fees and costs in personal injury matters.

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5. Who will pay my medical bills?
If you are involved in an automobile accident and you own a vehicle, your automobile insurance company will pay your medical bills at 80% and your verifiable lost wages at 60%, unless you have elected a deductible or have purchased supplemental coverage. The at-fault party is responsible for the remainder of these expenses. This is because Florida is a no-fault state. No-fault policies will vary and our attorneys will answer any questions you may have. Our office will assist you in filling out the necessary forms to make sure your bills are paid and will also represent you in any action to recover payment for those bills if any claim is denied or reduced by your insurance carrier. If you are injured in any other type of accident, we will determine if there is any insurance to cover your medical expenses, including any policies of the at fault party, or, if none, your own health coverage.

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6. Should I settle my claim if the insurance company offers to pay my bills?
If you are injured in an automobile accident, you should have competent legal representation to make sure your medical bills and lost wages are paid correctly by your own insurance carrier. More importantly, if you are injured as a result of any type of accident, you can rest assured the insurance company of the at fault party will want to try to resolve your claim for the least amount possible, perhaps by offering to pay your medical bills. You should always consult an attorney before agreeing to do this because your claim, in all likelihood, will have a value greater than just the medical bills you have accumulated. Remember, the at fault party will be represented by professionals who are trained in resolving claims. So should you.

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7. Tell me how much my claim is worth.
This is a difficult question to answer because every personal injury claim is different. In fact, you should be wary of any attorney who tells you initially how much your claim is worth. Generally speaking, however, your personal injury claim will consist of: 1.) All past and future medical expenses you have accumulated and/or paid. This includes pharmacy bills, physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses; 2.) All past and future wage loss or loss of earning capacity as a result of the accident; and 3.) Pain and suffering for your injuries. Our office will advise and guide you at the appropriate time regarding the value of your claim based upon a thorough review of your medical records, our knowledge of jury verdicts and settlements in cases similar to yours, as well as the particular facts of your case, including the strengths and weakness of witnesses, evidence and other matters.

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8. Will I have to file a lawsuit to recover?
The attorneys at SM are committed to aggressively representing your interests, which include the filing of lawsuits and litigation of cases to jury verdict when necessary. In fact, each claim is handled from the beginning as if it will be tried by a jury. Although our office only represents people who have been injured, many of the attorneys at SM have had experience trying cases on behalf of insurance companies and know how these cases are defended in court. Sometimes your claim can be successfully resolved through a negotiated settlement with the at fault insurance carrier or party. Many clients prefer their claim be resolved without filing a lawsuit if possible because it may be less expensive and time consuming, less stressful, and the element of risk is eliminated. At SM, we will provide you with our opinion on how your case should be resolved and whether it is advisable to present your case to a jury or to settle your claim through negotiations. Most of the time, we will exhaust the possibility of negotiating a settlement on your behalf before filing a lawsuit because it is generally less expensive for our clients to do so. We will always get your permission before a lawsuit is filed and the decision on how the case is resolved is ultimately yours to make.

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9. Are there time limits on personal injury claims?
Your personal injury claim will be controlled by a statute of limitations. This means your claim must be either resolved or a lawsuit filed before the end of the statutory period. Generally, there is a four year statute of limitations in personal injury claims, two years for wrongful death claims and two years for medical malpractice claims. There are other time frames which may govern your claim, as well as technicalities involved in these statutes which may alter or change those times. The applicable statute governing a particular claim should be discussed with an attorney. That is why it is important you contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

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10. How long will it take to resolve my claim?
This will depend on how long you need to treat with your doctor for the injuries received in the accident. We cannot resolve your case until we know the extent and nature of your injuries, the diagnosis assigned to you and they type of care and treatment, if any, you will require in the future. Of course, the length of your treatment will vary depending on your injury. However we will do our best to promptly begin negotiations once we have received all relevant information from your treating physicians. If a lawsuit is filed, your case will take longer to resolve due to the scheduling of depositions, hearings and the judge's trial docket.

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11. What about claims with my own insurance company?
Insurance companies may not pay claims that are legitimate or refuse to pay the full amount of a claim they are obligated to pay under your policy. When this happens, or when you feel your own insurance company is not being cooperative or fair with you or is taking too long to try to resolve claims, you should contact an attorney. Our office handles these types of disputes and will be happy to consult with you.

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12. What are some examples of claims against my own insurance company?
Insurance disputes may arise under you automobile (PIP) no-fault policies or your homeowner policy. There may also be claims denied or not fully paid under your health/major medical PPO or HMO plans as well as plans covered by ERISA, or covering life and disability.

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13. Am I required to give a statement to my insurance company?
Most insurance policies have a requirement of cooperation in the investigation of claims. This means they are allowed to talk with you and you are required to provide reasonable information upon request. However, you are allowed to have counsel involved in the statement should you choose and the insurance company should not be allowed to harass or intimidate you in this process. If you feel this is occurring, you should contact an attorney. Our office will be happy to talk with you.

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14. Do I have to pay my attorney in an insurance dispute?
If our office prevails in a dispute with your insurance company, in almost all cases, the company is required to pay our attorney fee as well as costs. If this is the case, no portion of your benefits will be reduced to pay the legal fees or costs.

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