Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
Dedicated to Making Sure You Get the Care and Compensation You Need and Deserve
At the Rinaldo Law Group, we focus our attention on helping people who have been injured because of another’s negligence or reckless misconduct. We know that the crash which caused your injury wasn’t your fault, and we believe justice and fairness mean that the responsible party should provide compensation to cover your medical care and lost income, and to make up for the pain, inconvenience and disruption to your life they have caused. Our experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers are dedicated to achieving that goal. Call our office for a free consultation if you have suffered from a car crash, slip and fall or any injury caused by the negligence of another.
- Bicycle Accident
- Brain Injury
- Burn Injury
- Car Accident
- Catastrophic Injury
- Child Injury
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk Driving Accident
- Medical Malpractice
- Motorcycle Accident
- Negligent Security
- Pedestrian Accident
- Premises Liability
- Spine Injury
- Truck Accident
- Uninsured Driver Accident
- Wrongful Burial & Cremation
- Wrongful Death
Should I File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
After an accident, very often, filing a lawsuit is the last thing on your mind, especially if your injuries are severe. However, if you believe that another person’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries, it may be a very good idea to seek compensation; you almost certainly have serious medical bills to pay, among other damages you may have sustained. There are countless myths about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida, but looking past the misinformation may be the way you get closure on your injuries.
No Injuries Too Minor
One of the most pervasive personal injury myths in Florida is that even if you are injured, it must be particularly serious in order to merit a lawsuit. While there are standards below which an attorney may not take a case, there is no specific level of injury that you must have sustained in order to be able to file suit. There is a serious injury threshold in auto accident cases, but that is the exception, rather than the rule. Auto accident cases must usually be handled through one’s own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, but if a serious injury has occurred, the option of a lawsuit is also available.
Another myth that often ties into the belief that one’s injuries are minor is the idea that one’s insurance will cover everything, especially in auto accident cases. In reality, insurance companies are in the business of paying as little as possible, and especially will try to get away with paying pennies on the dollar to those not represented by experienced attorneys. In addition, Florida law holds explicitly that PIP coverage does not have to pay all your bills – it must cover “80 percent of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary” care and procedures. The remaining 20 percent can add up monetarily.
No One Is Being Punished
The other common type of myth that injured people may believe about filing suit is that they will somehow be punishing the allegedly negligent person. While many injured victims want closure or justice, they may not want to be the reason for that person’s financial troubles. They may worry about ‘ruining lives,’ despite the damage potentially done to their own. They may also worry about being perceived as greedy, given that pop culture so often paints plaintiffs as money-grubbing or manipulative.
In reality, however, the strong majority of personal injury claims (either in settlement or at trial) are paid by insurers, not individuals, and no one simply receives money because they file a claim. Success in court or with your insurer requires good enough evidence to convince the authority that your claim has merit. There is no greed involved in wanting justice, especially not if your bills are severe and you have no other way to cover them. An accident victim should not wind up in penury through no fault of their own, so the best way to combat that is to hold negligent actors accountable.
What Damages Can I Recover In A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you are injured in an accident, and you can establish that the harm you suffered was caused by another person’s negligence, you may be able to receive monetary damages. However, every case is different, and the fact pattern that can lead to a significant recovery in one case may lead to very little in another. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you to get an idea of what your options may be and what you might be entitled to.
Compensatory damages are those that are granted in every case where someone prevails at trial, designed to directly compensate a plaintiff for what they have lost following the accident. They can be divided into two sub-categories – economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the tangible losses that you can quantify easily, such as medical bills, damage to your vehicle or to any other property, loss of earnings (if you are unable to work, you can usually tangibly demonstrate the amount of pay that you would lose), and other tangible monetary losses. They compensate a person for direct financial hardship.
Non-economic damages are the other subcategory of compensatory damages. They cover the losses that a plaintiff suffers that are more difficult to define in monetary terms – for example, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or a loss of consortium, which is the loss of a relationship between spouses (normally referring to intimate marital relations). These damages often require testimony of an expert, who can shed light on the specific facts necessary to arrive at an appropriate amount. However, it is worth noting that when it comes to mental anguish, Florida requires that there be an “impact” before a plaintiff can recover. In other words, mental pain and suffering is not compensable if it is not directly and immediately linked to a physical injury.
The other type of damages that one may be able to recover in a personal injury lawsuit is called punitive damages. The word “punitive” means “to punish,” and that is what punitive damages are for – to punish a defendant who has acted in a particularly egregious manner. Punitive damages are not granted very often, because Florida law establishes that a defendant has to have acted in a truly inappropriate manner – generally, the intentional infliction of harm, or recklessness.
Florida law holds that when punitive damages are warranted, they cannot be more than three times the amount of compensatory damages received by each plaintiff, or $500,000, whichever is greater. There are exceptions to this, but they are extremely rare, to the point where a judge might have one case of this sort in a career. In recent years, Florida has lifted the damage caps on compensatory damages in personal injury cases, except for those dealing with medical malpractice, but punitive damages still have a cap because without it, there would be no limit on what a jury chose to award.
Experienced and Dedicated Tampa Injury Lawyers
If you have been involved in an accident of some kind, the temptation to ignore filing suit may be strong – physical and emotional recovery is understandably most people’s first priority. However, it is a good idea to explore the possibility of filing suit, both for the compensation you may need, and for the possibility of closure. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group have years of experience in this type of case, and we are happy to try and assist you with yours. Contact us today for a free consultation.