It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of litigants are unrepresented because they can’t afford to hire an attorney. However, this does not have to be you if you were injured in accident and are now seeking help navigating the legal system to recover medical costs, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering.
Worrying that an attorney is unaffordable, on top of the unexpected medical costs and time away from work that your injuries have caused, is understandable but misplaced. Generally, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney does not cost the client anything upfront.
At The Watson Firm, PLLC, our attorneys do not get paid unless our client gets paid, meaning nothing is paid to the firm until the case is settled or judgment is paid out.
Personal Injury Attorneys Offer Free Evaluations
Meeting with an experienced attorney at The Watson Firm, PLLC for the first time costs you nothing but your time. This means you can meet with an experienced attorney for a free evaluation, during which you will have the opportunity to explain your injuries and what caused them in full detail.
When preparing for your free evaluation, it is important to have the facts of your case as straight as you can. To properly evaluate your case, the attorney will want to know the following:
- Who is liable for the injury
- Material facts of your case
- The severity of the injury
- The economic value of the case
Who Is Liable for the Injury?
Determining who is liable for your injury is the most important factor in your case. Not only does it help determine whether there is a need for further evaluation, but it also helps determine who the counterparties should be.
Liability refers to the party that caused your injury and holding the right party liable can make or break a case. For example, if there is evidence that you contributed or caused the incident that resulted in your injury, an attorney will be discouraged from taking your case. However, Florida is a comparative negligence state, so just because you may have contributed to the incident does not mean the law will bar you from recovering damages from the other party or parties.
Florida law provides that if a plaintiff (the person suing) contributed to the incident at issue in the lawsuit, damages will be reduced proportionately to their fault. This means that your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault in causing the incident. So, for example, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages by a jury but you are found to be 10% at fault for the accident, you will receive a judgment for $90,000 in damages.
Material Facts of the Case
Once liability is properly established, the personal injury attorney will begin looking further into the details of your case. For example, the attorney will ask you to walk through the incident top to bottom and may interrupt with clarifying questions. The purpose of this is to determine whether the case is provable in court. Having a resulting injury from an incident is not enough to rise to the level of proving that someone’s negligence caused the injury. So, the attorney will ask questions to determine whether the level of negligence required to win in court is met or surpassed. They also want to make sure the statute of limitations has not expired, meaning you have missed your window of opportunity to take legal action after an accident.
Statute of Limitations
Florida law provides a statute of limitations of four years for most personal injury claims. However, this may be two to five years depending on the facts of your case, so it is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible after the incident occurs to ensure you have time to take legal action. It is important to remember that the statute of limitations begins to run on the date that the injury occurred (i.e., the date of the incident).
Severity of the Injury
There are different levels of injury. Personal injury claims can arise from a minor wound that resulted in medical bills, or it could be considered a catastrophic injury, which is the most severe personal injury claim. The severity of the injury plays into how much time you are required to take off work, how many medical bills you incurred, and how much emotional and physical damage you sustained.
Florida law holds that a catastrophic injury is one that causes permanent impairment, including but not necessarily limited to:
- Paralysis (either full or partial) or other significant spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Severe or traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of or injuries to the reproductive organs that prevent childbirth or the ability to become a natural parent
- Loss of other organs
Economic Value of the Claim
The monetary value of your case is not only of interest to you but also to a personal injury attorney because they work on a contingency fee. As such, they will want to know all details, including medical bills, lost wages, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
The purpose of this step is for an attorney to determine if there is likely to be a fair return on investment. Personal injury attorneys, as discussed above, don't get paid until you do, so they want to make sure that putting in the work will result in payment, not only for you but also for them.
Personal Injury Attorneys Work on a Contingency Fee
Experienced personal injury attorneys, including those at The Watson Firm, PLLC, virtually always represent clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney does all the work without invoicing the client monthly for the accumulated costs, and if the case loses, you pay the attorney nothing. In addition to waiting to be paid for their work, personal injury attorneys generally also agree to pay the running costs of the personal injury claim, which includes court filing fees, expert witness fees, travel expenses, and more. All of this can add up quickly, so a contingency case can cost an attorney a lot of upfront money. As a result, they want to see the damages that might be awarded and how much they could receive after the case is done.
Contingency Fee Cap
A contingency fee cap of 33 1/3% is placed on a settlement of up to $1 million for a personal injury case that settles before the defendant answers the complaint. For settlements that exceed $1 million in these cases, the cap is incrementally reduced by 10%.
For a personal injury case that is settled after the defendant answers the complaint or that goes to trial and is awarded a judgment from the court, the contingency cap is 40% on up to $1 million. The cap is reduced incrementally for settlements or judgments entered under this scenario that exceed $1 million.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney at The Watson Firm, PLLC
If you have sustained an injury caused by third-party negligence, do not wait to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for help navigating the justice system. Our attorneys at The Watson Firm, PLLC will evaluate your case for free, and we won’t charge any upfront fees. To put it simply: You don’t pay unless we win your case.
Contact our team today by dialing (850) 607-2929 or contact us online for a free consultation.