Our Frequently Asked Questions section has been sorted by topic to help you get the answers you need. Click on one of the topics below to be taken to that section. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.
- General Questions
- Auto Accident Questions
- Motorcycle Accident Questions
- Trucking Accident Questions
- Work Accident Questions
- Social Security Disability Questions
How will I pay for my legal fees?
We take cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that you pay no fees or costs unless and until we make a recovery for you.
How do you decide whether or not you will take my case?
Once we receive initial information from you about your case, you may be asked to schedule an appointment with an attorney in our firm to meet and further discuss your case. During that free initial consultation we will ask you to bring all documentation concerning your accident, such as a police report, policies of insurance, photographs and medical records and bills (if you have them). We will review the documentation and gather further information from you regarding the facts surrounding your accident. We will also answer your questions at that time. We review each case on an individual basis. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to take every case. However, if after meeting with you and reviewing your case, we feel we can be of service to you, we will take your case. If we can not take your case, we may be able to refer you to other lawyers we know who can help.
How much is my case worth?
The value of each case is different and must be evaluated separately. We have over 30 years of experience handling accident and injury cases and take a great deal of time to properly evaluate your case. A person who has been injured through the negligence of another may recover for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and, in many cases the value of your past and future pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-economic damages. Additionally, if you have a spouse and/or children, they may have a claim in their own right for their loss of your consortium (companionship, services, comfort) due to the injuries you suffered. However, you must know that there is never any guarantee of any recovery.
If I am in an automobile accident, what should I do?
Florida law requires that you remain at the scene of an accident until the police arrives to help in the preparation of an accident report. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you get home from the scene, or as soon as possible. In order to prove your case, you have the burden of presenting evidence to establish your claim, therefore, preservation of evidence is crucial. Such evidence may consist of documentation of the physical evidence at the accident site, of the vehicles involved in the accident and of your medical injuries. You may not know the legal requirements necessary to prove your case and therefore, we recommend that you contact an attorney immediately to be advised of your legal rights.
Who will pay to fix the damage to my vehicle?
That depends on what type of insurance coverage you have or the insurance coverage of the person that caused the accident. Call the other driver’s insurance company and request that your car be fixed. Only discuss property damage issues with them. Do not give any statements or discuss how the accident happened or your injuries. Check your policy to see whether you have rental car coverage, towing and what deductibles apply. It may be in your best interest to retain the services of a lawyer with experience in handling auto accident claims as they are familiar with the terms of different insurance policies and regularly negotiate the resolution of property damage claims with many different insurance companies.
Who will pay my medical bills and lost wages?
There may be many sources from which to get your medical bills paid and, depending on the types of insurance, they each take different priority. For instance, in Florida, you are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This is generally in the amount of $10,000 and may have different deductible amounts. This money is available to pay for medical bills and/or lost wages. However, unless you instruct your insurance carrier to reserve your PIP for your lost wages, they will pay it to the first medical bills they receive. There may also be other insurance available to pay for your medical bills including medical payments coverage, health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or disability insurance. If you are in an automobile accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss how the relevant state laws and policies of insurance apply to recover damages for your injuries.
What if the person that caused the accident does not have insurance?
Unfortunately, nearly 20% of Florida’s drivers do not have any form of automobile insurance. If you purchased Uninsured Motorist Coverage from your insurance carrier, you may look to your own insurance company to pay you for the damages caused by the negligence of the uninsured motorist carrier. We caution you, however, in negotiating your claim with your insurance company yourself as, even though they are your insurance company, (to pay the least amount of money out on claims) their interest is directly opposite to what is in your best interest, (to obtain a just settlement to compensate you fairly for all of your damages). We recommend you obtain legal counsel before attempting to negotiate your claims directly with your own insurance company.
The insurance company wants to take my recorded statement. What is that?
We do not recommend that you give a recorded statement to anyone, other than your own insurance carrier. Many insurance policies require the insured (you) to “cooperate” with their investigation of the accident. This recording can and will be used as evidence against you if you pursue a claim regarding your accident, therefore, we would advise you obtain legal counsel before giving any such statement.
When there is a motorcycle accident related injury or death in Florida, who is allowed to sue?
If any party other than the motorcycle driver involved in the Florida motorcycle accident is at fault, the motorcycle driver and/or that person’s surviving family members may pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages and compensation.
If the motorcycle driver is at fault, then anyone else injured or killed in the Florida motorcycle accident – including the motorcyclist’s passenger and/or people in other vehicles and their surviving family members — may pursue a lawsuit against the motorcycle operator. Any other person injured by a motorcyclist, such as a pedestrian, can recover damages against the motorcycle operator and any other responsible party.
When a motorcycle accident happens in Florida, which parties involved may be held responsible?
Defendants in Florida motorcycle accident cases may include the motorcycle driver, other motor vehicle operators, property owners where dangerous conditions may exist (on both public and private properties), mechanical repair and service shops, as well as motorcycle, tire, and parts manufacturers. Any of these parties may be held liable in a Florida court of law. A lawsuit seeks to identify and hold responsible any persons or entities whose wrongful conduct or negligence may have contributed to injury and/or death resulting from a Florida motorcycle accident.
Why is it so important for me to have my Florida motorcycle accident case investigated?
Motorcyclists may sometimes run up against the bias that because they operate a motorcycle in Florida, they are the ones who cause accidents and they are responsible for their own injuries. The reality is that sometimes the motorcyclist did nothing to cause the accident, and the liability lies with another driver or other entities whose conduct or negligence contributed to the Florida motorcycle accident. A proper examination brings forth the true facts of the case including the conditions at the Florida motorcycle accident scene; details of how, when, why, what, and who was involved in the accident; as well as witness statements and reports from law enforcement and other agencies involved in the investigation.
How important is it for me to consult a Florida motorcycle accident lawyer regarding my motorcycle accident case?
It is very important, particularly if the Florida motorcycle accident you were involved in resulted in your own injuries or in serious injury or death to other drivers and passengers involved. Motorcyclists often get blamed when they are involved in serious motor vehicle accidents — and the opposing side will be looking for evidence to support that claim, whether it’s entirely true or not. An experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney can investigate your case and compile the necessary legal documentation and evidence that will support you in your injury claims.
How are accidents involving commercial trucks different from car accidents?
The size of tractor trailers puts passenger cars at a serious disadvantage. Some tractor trailers can weigh over 80,000 pounds. When something that size collides with an automobile, the injuries to the occupants can be devastating and deadly.
In addition, there are sections of the Vehicle Code applicable to trucking companies and commercial truck drivers, as well as training and licensing requirements specific for truck drivers making their defense in truck accident cases more difficult and, therefore, better for plaintiffs.
What is the federal government doing about tractor trailers and highway safety?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration controls specific regulations that trucking companies are required to follow . These complex regulations were put in place to protect accident victims of their own pockets.
Are there any additional safety laws related to trucks and truck drivers?
Yes. Specific laws and regulations are in place to protect passenger vehicle drivers and occupants from the actions of negligent truck drivers and trucking companies. State and Federal rules specify, for example, how many hours and days truck drivers can stay on the road before taking a break, the proper loading of cargo and weight the driver is carrying, and speeds for safely traveling and passing other vehicles on the highway.
What damages can I recover in a truck accident injury case?
Plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for past and future wages lost and medical expenses. You may also be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of the truck accident. Punitive damages are possible if the conduct of the person at-fault is proven to be particularly reckless.
If I am injured, how will I pay for my medical bills? Who is responsible?
The trucking company more than likely will not pay your medical costs right away. Your own insurance may cover some of your expenses, including some medical bills and funeral costs if a loved one died. We urge you NOT to give a statement to your insurance company or to the trucking company, nor to sign any release forms, before consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney. Your actions could be used against you to limit you are awarded.
What is the time frame to bring an injury or death case based on a truck accident?
In the state of Florida, a truck accident case must be brought within four years of the date of the accident. If someone died, the wrongful death lawsuit must be brought within two years of the date of the decedent’s death.
How long do I have if I have been injured at work to report it to my employer?
You should report your work accident or injury to your employer right away. Failure to report your injury within 30 days may be used as a defense against your claim.
Will I be paid for the time I lose from work because of my work injury?
Wage replacement benefits will start on the eighth (8) day that the injured employee is unable to work. You will not receive wage replacement benefits for the first seven (7) days of work missed, unless you are out of work for more than 21 days due to the work accident. If your disability requires you to miss more than twenty-one (21) days, you are paid from the date of the accident.
How much will I be paid for my lost wages?
In most cases, the wage-replacement benefits will equal two-thirds (2/3) of your pre-injury regular weekly wage (AWW), but the benefit will not be higher than Florida’s average weekly wage. Checks are usually paid on a bi-weekly basis until you are released to work by your physician. If you continue to lose wages after returning to work or being released to work, you may be entitled to wage-replacement benefits at a lower rate.
What is AWW (Average Weekly Wage)?
Your Average Weekly Wage is determined by wages you earned in the 13 weeks prior to the date of your work accident. To be sure this amount is calculated correctly by the employer/insurance carrier so that you are paid the correct amount, you may want to contact Daniel L. Hightower, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Will my medical bills and prescriptions be paid?
All reasonable, necessary and authorized medical bills, prescriptions and out-of-pocket expenses will be paid by your employer/insurance carrier.
Do I get to choose the doctor I treat with?
You must see physicians that are authorized by the workers’ compensation insurance company. However, you are allowed a one-time change in your authorized treating physician.
How much is my case worth?
To determine how much your case might be worth we analyze multiple factors including your age, wages, future expected wages, job type, injury type, level of education and training, and future estimated medical care and therapy.
What if I’m not able to return to my current line of work because of my injury?
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, if you are unable to return to employment earning wages similar to your pre-injury wages, then you may be entitled to retraining at the State’s expense. The retraining program has to be approved by the Division of Workers’ Compensation Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services. Often employees who are approved for retraining are also entitled to temporary total disability benefits for up to one year while they are pursuing retraining.
If retraining is not a viable option and you are unable to obtain any kind of employment, then you may be eligible for disability payments. These can be temporary, while you are still recovering from your injury, or permanent. Your entitlement to disability benefits would depend on the specific facts of your case and so the assessment must be made on a case-by-case basis.
There are limited options available and each case is different. Please contact us to discuss the options available to you.
What does TTD (Temporary Total Disabled) mean?
TTD means an injured worker is totally unable to work during the recovery and improvement process. TTD benefits are the wage-loss benefits that are provided as a result of your work injury that temporarily prevents you from returning to work and you have not reached MMI.
What does MMI mean?
Maximum Medical Improvement – The point at which you have improved as much as the doctors expect you to improve medically.
What does TPD (Temporary Partial Disability) mean?
TPD means an injured worker is partially unable to work during the recovery and improvement process. TPD benefits are the wage-loss benefits that are provided when the doctor releases you to return to work and you have not reached MMI and you earn less than 80% of the pre-injury wage. The benefit is equal to 80% of the difference between 80% of the pre-injury wage and the post-injury wage.
What does PTD (Permanent Total Disability) mean?
When an injured worker’s recovery has progressed as far as medical treatment can take it, the worker is said to have reached MMI. After that, temporary benefits are no longer payable, and some workers whose permanent physical restrictions prevent them from returning to work may be entitled to PTD benefits for loss of wage earning capacity. The requirements for these benefits change depending on the year you were injured. If you are PTD you may qualify for Social Security benefits, as well. Please read our information regarding Social Security Disability claims and contact us.
What if I am having problems receiving benefits or getting prescriptions authorized and paid for? Is your AWW rate correct?
Contact Daniel L. Hightower for a free consultation to evaluate your case.
When Should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you think you may be entitled to disability benefits, you should apply as soon as possible. In some instances, Social Security will pay benefits up to 12 months before your application. If you wait until next month to apply, you could lose out on several hundred dollars worth of past benefits.