Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have a case?
Our goal is to determine whether you have a case as soon as possible. Often times a decision will be made at our first meeting whether we will offer you our representation and whether you want us to represent you. Other times, an initial investigation and further review of a case will have to be conducted.
We handle cases on a selective basis so that we can optimize our professional services. In the event we do not accept your case; we will let you know why. If you wish to pursue the matter further, we will recommend that you seek another opinion. We will also advise you of the statute of limitations in your case. This is a time period within which you must resolve your case or initiate legal action to preserve your rights; otherwise, you would be forever barred from pursuing your case.
How long will my case take?
In handling a personal injury case, the extent of your injuries and your course of medical care usually determines how long a case will take. For example, if you suffer soft tissue injuries, you complete your treatment over a period of months and your case settles, then the resolution of your case will be faster than if you have more severe injuries that require surgical intervention and your case winds up in court. Since the healing process takes time, so does the handling of your case. So as you can see, it is difficult to predict how long a case will take; however, you can count on our team to handle your case efficiently when it is ripe for its resolution. Remember, we do not get paid until you get paid and the more we obtain for you, the greater our fee. Therefore, our common goal is to conclude your case at its appropriate time, as realistically as possible and to maximize your recovery.
Workers' compensation cases could last virtually for the rest of your life depending on your medical needs and subject to the statute of limitations. In the event of settlement, your entitlement to benefits will come to an end.
How much time do I have to present my case?
The statute of limitations is a time period within which you must take action in order to preserve your rights in a claim. The statute of limitations varies depending on the case and may be different in each state. Some of the statutes of limitations in Florida are: four (4) years in a personal injury claim; two (2) years in a wrongful death case; (2) years in a claim for medical negligence depending on when the claim was discovered; and, in a workers' compensation claim, it is two (2) years from the date of injury or (1) year from the date of the last authorized disability or medical benefit - whichever occurs later. In the event the statute of limitations expires, your right to a claim will be forever barred.
How much is my Personal Injury case worth?
There are many factors that determine the value of a case. In a personal injury case, there are several issues to consider - First, liability, which is a determination of fault. Second, damages, which is proving your injuries. Third, causation, which is proving that the accident caused the injuries in question.
Liability can be clear where one party's negligence places them completely at fault for the accident and ensuing injuries. Liability can also be comparative meaning that each party shares some degree of negligence. If a party is not at fault, then liability will most likely be denied and no voluntary settlement will be offered. On rare occasions where liability is denied, a nominal amount may be offered in exchange for a release (often called a "nuisance settlement").
Damages are proved by medical documentation. If you are injured, then you need to document your injury through medical care. The more times you treat, the more frequently you treat and the longer you treat often times translate into your degree of injury. However, a severe injury without needed treatment will result in a discounted settlement value. Simply put, if you are in pain, see a doctor. It is important that you see medical specialists as your condition requires - for example, if your injuries involve muscles, tendons and/or bones, they are orthopedic in nature. In that case, you should treat with an orthopedic surgeon. If your injuries include headaches, numbness and/or radiating pain, then you should see a neurologist. It is common for someone with multiple symptoms to treat with doctors of different specialties at the same time.
Causation is the issue of proving that the accident resulted in your injury. This question usually arises in a case where property damages are nominal and the injury is significant or where there is a history of similar pre-existing conditions.
Can a Workers' Compensation claim be settled?
In a workers' compensation case, there is no entitlement to compensation for pain and suffering. The workers' compensation law provides you with disability benefits if you cannot work or if your ability to work is limited. You are also entitled to medical care for your injuries if the treatment is: (1) reasonable, (2) medically necessary, (3) related to your on-the-job injury and (4) approved by the insurance carrier.
Neither the injured employee nor the employer/carrier can ever be compelled to settle a case for a lump sum amount. However, a settlement can occur if the insurance carrier feels they have exposure to pay benefits in the future and want to end their obligation to pay future benefits.
Settlement in a workers' compensation claim is based on a discounted value of the projected future benefits. The greater the future exposure the carrier has, the greater their incentive will be to settle the case. The amount of the future exposure also dictates the value of the case.
Once a workers' compensation case settles, your entitlement to future disability and medical benefits will end.
Will my case settle or go to court?
We cannot predict whether a personal injury case will settle or wind up in front of a jury in a courtroom. Generally, most cases settle out-of-court because settling reduces risk and is cost-effective for all parties. Whether legal action is ultimately necessary to bring your case to its final disposition is something that is determined after the attempt to settle a case is exhausted. Although the majority of cases are settled, we prepare a case as if it were going to trial. That preparation assists in facilitating a settlement.
In a workers' compensation case there is no entitlement to a settlement as stated above. Workers' compensation claims will only go before a Judge of Compensation Claims when benefits are in dispute and cannot be resolved voluntarily or through mediation.
What are the Attorney's Fees and Costs?
As set forth in our Authority to Represent, our fees in a personal injury case are contingent upon the financial recovery in your case. The fees are in accordance with guidelines set by the Florida Supreme Court. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. Therefore, we share a common objective of obtaining a favorable result in your case. Costs are incurred in the pursuit of your case. We do not ask you for a cost deposit up front and we do not bill you for the costs as they are incurred. The costs are reimbursed to us at the end of the case. The most common costs are for investigation and medical records. Our financial arrangement will be clearly and fully explained at the Initial Interview; and several months after your file is opened, a follow-up explanatory letter will be sent to you.
In a workers' compensation case, guideline fees are set by statute and are subject to approval by a Judge of Compensation Claims.
How can you hurt your case?
- You can hurt your case if:
- You are not being totally open and honest with us about the facts of your case, your injuries or any other matter.
- You exaggerate or under-estimate the extent of your injuries.
- You talk to anyone about your case (except us and your doctors).
- You don't ask us questions when you do not understand something about your case.
- You don't respond promptly to us.
- You don't fully cooperate with us in the handling of your case.
What are the Most Important Steps you can take to help us with your case?
- The most important steps you can take in your case are:
- Take care of yourself medically by getting appropriate and timely medical care for your injuries.
- Be open and honest with us and your doctors and anyone else about your case.
- Follow your doctor's instructions.
- If you are able to go about your daily routine (going to work, school, etc.), then give it your best effort without risking further injury to yourself.
- Follow the instructions we give you at the Initial Interview
- Do not change your life just because you have a case.
- Send us copies of any bills (hospital, doctor, prescriptions) that you incur in this case.
- Keep us informed of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all medical providers who treat you for your accident-related injuries.
- Ask us questions when you have them.
- Do not talk to anyone about your case (except us and your doctors)!!!
- Call us immediately if you have another accident!!!
- Notify us immediately of any changes in your address and/or telephone numbers.
We also recommend that you keep a diary of events. It is easier to write something down when it occurs rather than to try to remember it later on. Document daily events that have changed because of your accident and injuries. Document time missed from work. Document your mileage to and from your medical care. Document your medical appointments. Document anything you feel will be relevant to the handling of your case.
We hope that this information will assist you and if you have any additional questions or comments, please call us at your convenience.
The Law Offices of Ricky D. Gordon, P.A. take pride in the fact that we are always accessible by telephone, e-mail, regular mail, and for in-person consultations to discuss your personal injury case and/or workers' compensation claim. Our objective is to be there for our clients when they need us.
Call us at (954) 753-0200 or, if you are calling from outside Broward County, Florida, call—toll-free—(800) 329-0201.
You can also contact us online.
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