Articles Tagged with Fort Myers personal injury lawyer

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Fort Myers personal injury lawyerMedical bills are one of the central claims filed in virtually any Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit. But if you don’t have health insurance (or enough health insurance) while your personal injury claim is pending, you could well find yourself with something called a hospital lien.

As our Southwest Florida personal injury lawyers can explain, a hospital lien – sometimes called a medical lien – is basically when a healthcare provider is granted payment rights for services rendered to a patient with a pending personal injury case. This seems fair enough: You get treatment at the hospital after a car accident, file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, and providers are ultimately paid from the amount collected in that case. (You likely even signed discharge paperwork granting them permission to send in a claim against any court-awarded costs to pay medical debts related to your treatment.)

Where it can get a bit dicey is in determinations about how much is “reasonable.” Healthcare providers may have one idea about what’s “reasonable,” and the auto insurer(s) involved may have quite another. It’s a major issue because, in the Sunshine State, hospital liens are often given priority over any and all other recoverable damages – including lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc. That means they may argue that they are first in line when it comes to getting paid.

Who can you trust to advocate for you during these negotiations? Your Fort Myers personal injury lawyer’s at Garvin Injury Law. Not only do we understand what is considered reasonable for services rendered, we know what insurers are likely to agree on and whether the injured party may face challenges in actually collecting that sum. We’re also skilled in negotiating with hospitals and other healthcare providers on this front.

Also worth noting: Florida does it a bit differently than other states. While most other places have a single hospital lien statute, Florida allows each county to enact its own hospital lien statutes. (The state used to have a single health care lien law, but it was deemed unconstitutional in the 2012 Florida Supreme Court ruling in Shands Teaching Hosp. & Clinics, Inc. v. Mercury Ins. Co. of Fla.) What this ultimately means is there can be a big difference between when you might expect in Monroe County or Collier County versus what you might expect in Lee County or Sarasota County. Some counties don’t allow medical liens at all, while some do require they be filed in short order. Continue reading

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Fort Myers personal injury lawyerThe plan was a sun-soaked, fun-filled getaway in sublime Southwest Florida. What happened was a Florida car accident. As longtime Fort Myers personal injury lawyers, we recognize there are unique concerns when visitors and vacationers from out-of-town are involved in a Florida crash. There are logistical challenges, often higher expenses, insurance questions, and uncertainty as to the full scope of your rights.

It’s important for injured tourists and vacationers to seek legal advice and representation from a local injury attorney. While there are many factors that can play into the question of jurisdiction in civil cases, personal injury claims stemming from car accidents are most often handled in the court system where the crash occurred, also known as “venue”. So if the collision happened in Fort Myers, it’s probably going to be a Fort Myers personal injury lawyer who will be the best qualified to act as your advocate – particularly if the matter gets to the point of needing to file a lawsuit.

Many civil claims stemming from Florida car accidents can be resolved without litigation. But there are complications when one of those involved isn’t a Florida resident because the Sunshine State has unique statutes pertaining to auto insurance. Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to crashes, which means all motorists (save for motorcyclists) should be covered by their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage up to $10,000. It’s only if crash victims’ injuries meet the statutory threshold of severity outlined in F.S. 627.737 that they can step outside that no-fault system and pursue damages from at-fault parties. But tourists from other states or countries may not be required to carry PIP. What happens to them?

Questions like this are why it’s important to work with a local Fort Myers personal injury lawyer post-crash – even if you weren’t seriously hurt. It can help make for much smoother negotiations with insurers.

Notable Florida Car Accident Statistics

Florida is known for being a tourism hot spot. The University of Central Florida reports there were nearly 138 million total visitors to Florida in 2022 – a 13 percent increase from the year before. Most of those are from other states, but about 7 million are from overseas and 2.8 million from Canada. Not every single tourist is driving, but many are – and this contributes not only to the number of annual car accidents, but also the complications that can arise when non-residents are involved in crashes.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports there were nearly 392,000 total Florida car accidents last year, resulting in nearly 3,500 deaths and 250,000 injuries.

Just in Lee County alone in 2022, there were:

  • 15,282 reported crashes
  • 135 fatal accidents, resulting in 125 deaths
  • 8,847 crash-related injuries reported in 5,831 accidents
  • 319 bicycle accidents reported, 0 of which resulted in deaths
  • 333 motorcycle accidents, in which 29 people on motorcycles died
  • 334 pedestrian accidents reported, with 33 people killed in those
  • 4,191 hit-and-run crashes reported – in which 11 people died and nearly 800 were injured

The first thing anyone – Florida resident or not – should do after a Florida car accident is seek medical attention. If you’re in a position to do so, exchange contact and insurance information with the other motorist. Take their name, phone number, address, license plate number, insurance policy number and carrier, and jot down the make/model/color of their vehicle. Take photographs of your vehicles, the scene, any injuries. Report the accident to authorities, as well as your own auto insurer. If your injuries require a trip to the hospital (or worse), it’s a good idea to reach out to a local injury lawyer. At the very least, this will give you an idea of what to expect and on what issues specific to your case local legal advice may be beneficial.

Challenges for Non-Residents Injured in Florida Crashes

Common questions relating to challenges of non-Floridians injured in a car accident in Florida: Continue reading

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Florida injury lawsuitsOnce again, tort reform has made it tougher for victims of Florida car accidents to sue and collect fair damages for their losses. In order to get this passed the legislature has inaccurately pointed the finger at the allegation of frivolous Florida injury lawsuits and sky-high compensation payouts as the cause of high customer insurance premiums.

Reality check: Insurers are doing just fine. They even contributed $7 plus million to Florida politicians last year. Furthermore, the amount of insurance premiums paid by customers has little to do with accident claim payouts. It has a lot more to do with insurer profit margins.

Time and again, we’ve seen legislation enacted that makes it harder to sue and collect fair compensation against negligent motorists, businesses, and doctors – but fails to lower insurance premiums. Take for instance the Florida law passed in 2003 to limit medical malpractice pain-and-suffering damage payouts. At the time, state lawmakers insisted there was a “crisis” facing medical malpractice insurers that forced the industry to charge doctors super high premiums, to the point doctors had no choice but to relocate their practices out-of-state. This was all justified by basically arguing that greedy patients and plaintiff lawyers were exploiting medical malpractice insurance for big bucks. In a 2014 overturning of those damage caps, the Florida Supreme Court blasted lawmakers for their initial reasons for passing the law – while also noting it never made a dent in doctors’ insurance bills. In Estate of McCall v. U.S., the Court called the lawmakers’ justifications “arbitrary” and “irrational,” and an “offense to the fundamental notion of equal justice under the law.” In that 5-2 opinion, the court noted the effect of saving a modest amount for many meant imposing devastating costs on the few – namely those catastrophically injured. “If there ever was an alleged medical malpractice crisis” in the first place, the Court remarked skeptically in its reversal, there wasn’t one anymore.

But state lawmakers haven’t stopped trying to use this as a justification for ongoing efforts to make life easier for insurers. In the years since, they’ve continued pressing measures reducing both liability and damage awards for dangerous property conditions, car accidents, and work injuries. They’ve also targeted payouts from life and health insurance.

Now, proponents of this new law have promised that it will help eliminate the so-called “tort tax” imposed on citizens – something that doesn’t actually exist.

As you can imagine, our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers are among the many trial lawyers who strongly opposed this legislation. We believe that these new laws will disenfranchise people who have suffered serious injuries because of someone else’s wrongdoing. It’s not just lawyers, though. Other vocal opponents include doctors, bicyclists, and previous car accident victims – many of whom showed up in significant numbers at state committee hearings on the issue.

What Exactly Will this the Law Do?

The legislation – House Bill 837 and Senate Bill 236 – has made it more difficult to file, win, and fairly collect on well-founded Florida injury lawsuits. These bills were fast-tracked by lawmakers and quickly signed into law by Governor Desantis.
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Southwest Florida personal injury lawyerWhen it comes to civil litigation, there are many similarities and differences between Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases. As longtime South Florida injury attorneys, we will do our best to explain some of these – and why they matter.

Let’s start with some of the ways in which personal injury cases and wrongful death cases are analogous. To start, they are both torts, which are claims stemming from a wrongful act that resulted in legal liability. They can result from the same types of accidents, including:

  • Car accidents.
  • Slip, trip and fall accidents.
  • Medical malpractice.
  • Dangerous/defective products.
  • Dangerous property/premises liability.
  • Nursing home neglect and abuse.
  • Workplace accidents.

Both are claims for which civil litigants can pursue damages (financial compensation for losses). Further, both have a set period of time in which they can be filed, called a statute of limitations.

But there are numerous key differences, namely who files the claim, what type of damages they can collect and how much time they have to pursue it. Continue reading

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Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit

Aside from how much money a case is worth, Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit plaintiffs often want to know how long their case will take to resolve. Most are not thrilled to hear the ever-popular lawyer answer: It depends. But the truth is that determining how long a case will take to resolve can be more of an art than a science. First, know that settlements can often be preferable to litigation. They take less time and tend to use fewer resources. You may never even need to file a lawsuit if your injury attorney can successfully negotiate a fair resolution with the insurer(s) involved. While this is oversimplified for purposes of making this a brief blog post; for a settlement to be reached, both sides need to agree on two main issues: Liability and fair value.

Liability refers to which party is legally responsible for paying. Florida follows a system of “pure comparative fault,” essentially meaning a plaintiff (the person filing the case) could be 99 percent liable – and still collect the remaining 1 percent of damages from the other at-fault party. However, your damage award is going to be proportionately reduced by your degree of fault. So if you are 40 percent liable, your total damages will be reduced by 40 percent.

Fair value refers to how much your case is reasonably worth in light of the severity of your injuries, how much physical pain you suffered, the totality of your medical expenses (past and future), the time you had to take off work, the impact to your future wage-earning capabilities and the extent to which this has impacted your personal life. Understand that for cases involving serious injuries, it is probably impossible to resolve in less than a few months because it is going to take at least that long (usually longer) to accurately determine the full severity of your injuries, the long-term estimate of future medical expenses and how these injuries are going to impact the rest of your life.

It should go without saying that you or your attorney will need to prove causation, that is that the injury for which you are seeking “fair value” was actually caused by (or made worse as a result of) the crash or incident. This is an often contested area as many of us have some evidence of the natural aging process going on in our body at a time that we may become injured.

Needless to say, there can be more than a few points of disagreement. When those differences cannot be resolved, cases end up going to trial.

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Fort Myers car accident lawyer

The novel coronavirus pandemic is dominating headlines – not to mention the lives of most Americans right now. But how might COVID-19 impact your Fort Myers car accident claim?

Our personal injury lawyers know several elements of your case could be affected by the pandemic, but the most important things to know are: You should not delay seeking medical treatment or consulting with an attorney. These are the quickest ways to jeopardize your health and reduce the value of your claim.

The silver lining in all of this is that with reduced traffic on the roads, we may see fewer crashes in total. However, pending cases will still proceed (even if delayed) and a crash during the pandemic is not impossible either.

That said, you should be aware of a few things that might be different. It is important to stay informed as we navigate this once-in-a-century national and global crisis. Continue reading

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Florida impact ruleMental and emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, anger, fear, and insomnia, are common experiences among those who have suffered a personal injury. Florida is one of just five remaining states that subscribe to something called the impact rule when weighing claims of emotional distress.

Also known as the physical impact rule (or Florida impact rule), it requires plaintiffs who are seeking financial compensation for non-economic damages (namely, emotional distress) to prove they also experienced some physical impact or that their emotional injuries somehow physically manifested. There are some exceptions to this rule such as a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress which we fill further detail below.

South Florida personal injury lawyers frequently request compensation for emotional distress as an element in injury lawsuits, but claims that solely involve emotional distress can be a bit trickier. This is not to say it is impossible, and the Florida Supreme Court has in recent years relaxed the guidelines for applying the impact rule. Still, it is important for anyone considering filing a claim for emotional distress in Florida to understand a bit about the legal standards that must be met. Continue reading

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Florida lawmakers are seeking to limit the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered by plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits.Fort Myers personal injury lawyer

Specifically, HB 17 would impose a $1 million cap on payments made to injury claimants for intangible losses like pain and suffering, emotional anguish and loss of life enjoyment. While it’s true these losses are more subjective than things like medical bills or lost income, they are no less worthy of compensation.

As long-time Fort Myers personal injury lawyers, we know tort reform efforts like this are nothing new in Florida. Insurers and big corporations have lobbied intensely for them for decades. Proponents argue reform is necessary to keep consumers’ insurance rates in check and prevent frivolous claims and outrageous damage awards.

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