Insurance companies and personal injury attorneys aren’t exactly known for getting along. It’s time to change that perception. I’m here to help sell their product by telling you there is
The Difference Between A “claim” And A “lawsuit”
Many of the people who seek help from the attorneys at our firm are facing a situation that they’ve never been in before. They’ve been in an accident. They’re injured. Some of them have already been in contact with insurance company representatives; people trained in tactics to help save the company that they work for money. They’ve come to realize that if they’re going to be treated fairly, they need the help of someone who knows the system that they unfortunately find themselves in.
One of our first jobs as personal injury attorneys is to help our clients feel at ease by explaining the process to them. It’s a common misconception that retaining an attorney is synonymous with filing a lawsuit. In fact, in the beginning stages of a personal injury case, the court system is not involved in the process. Before the courts become involved, there is often a period of negotiation that takes place. We call this the “claim” stage. While our clients undergo medical treatment and focus on getting better, we deal with insurance company representatives on their behalf. We thwart their attempts to minimize our clients’ injuries, or assign blame to them. We do all in our power to ensure that our clients are treated fairly and justly.
However, sometimes these negotiations break down. Insurance companies know that if they simply stick to their guns and refuse to offer a fair amount, our clients’ only recourse is to file a lawsuit. That means submitting paperwork at the local courthouse to initiate formal legal proceedings.
When Is The Right Time To File A Lawsuit?
The “right” time to file a lawsuit is different in every case. It’s often difficult to know the extent of our client’s injuries until their doctors have determined that they’ve reached “maximum medical improvement.” This basically means that there is nothing more that a physician can do to permanently improve the client’s medical state. Once a client reaches maximum medical improvement, we can get a more accurate sense of their past and future damages. We consult with our clients and use the knowledge that comes from years of experience to make a monetary demand to the at-fault party or their insurer. It may seem crass to boil physical pain down to a dollar figure. When posed the question “would you rather be completely healed, or receive a sum of money,” most would chose to be healed. The unfortunate reality is that money is the only viable form of relief that is available to someone who is injured due to someone else’s negligence.
We often begin to consider a lawsuit as the result of an impasse in negotiations. The insurance company has offered as much as they’re willing to offer, and our client is left to decide whether or not the amount offered is an amount they’re willing to accept. If we feel that the insurance company is not making an offer that fairly compensates our client for the injuries they sustained, we often recommend filing a lawsuit. However, the final decision to file or not file suit ultimately rests with our clients.
What Will Happen After A Lawsuit Is Filed?
Before a lawsuit is filed, our clients’ responsibilities are limited. We take care of dealing with the legal matters and negotiations so that our clients can concentrate on treating and getting better. However, the filing of a lawsuit triggers the beginning of a process known as “discovery.” Discovery allows each party to a lawsuit to obtain evidence from the other party by means of legal requests. Common discovery devices include interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, and depositions. Soon after the filing of a lawsuit, our clients can expect that an attorney working for the opposing party will use these devices in an attempt to gather information.
Interrogatories are sets of written questions sent from one party to a lawsuit to another. The party who receives a set of interrogatories is required to answer the questions within a certain period of time. The interrogatories are signed and sworn to by the party answering them, and may be relied upon to clarify facts relevant to the lawsuit as the case progresses.
Requests For Production
A request for production is a legal request for documents and other tangible items. The request is sent from one party to another and the receiving party must provide copies of the requested materials within a specified timeframe. The materials requested must in some way pertain to the subject matter of the lawsuit.
Requests For Admissions
A request for admissions is a list of statements prepared by one party to a lawsuit and sent to another. The receiving party is called upon to either admit or deny each statement. The intended purpose of the request is to reduce the number of issues that are in dispute in the lawsuit. If the receiving party does not respond to the request within a timely manner, all of the statements in the request are deemed admitted.
A deposition is a legal process by which an attorney representing a party in a lawsuit can require sworn testimony from a person with the relevant information concerning the lawsuit. This is typically done face-to-face, where an attorney is asking questions directly of the person who they are deposing. Depositions are conducted outside of court and are recorded so that the testimony can be preserved in the form of a written transcript. The information gathered during depositions gives all parties to the lawsuit a fair preview of the testimony that may be provided by the deposed witness.
Answering the discovery requests outlined above can be a difficult and confusing process. However the attorneys of our firm are experienced and skilled in handling such matters. We provide our clients with assistance during every step of the process. We assist in preparing answers to each request, make sure that they are answered in a timely manner, and stop opposing counsel from overreaching in their requests. Requests that are deemed improper can be objected to and brought before a judge for consideration.
Insurance companies know that some people will not be willing to go forward with filing a lawsuit because filing a lawsuit takes time, energy, and money. Although answering the requests does require client involvement, we take steps to make the process run as smoothly as possible. In personal injury cases, we pay all costs associated with the lawsuit while the case is pending on our clients’ behalf. Should we fail to make a recovery for our client, they bear no responsibility for repaying those costs to us.
It’s our hope that our clients’ claims are resolved without the need to file a lawsuit. However, should we feel that someone we represent is not being dealt with fairly, we are always willing to take that step on their behalf and fight for the justice they deserve.
We’re often embarrassed and generally try to brush off a fall in public; however, we caution you against making a hasty exit. You may not realize the extent of your injuries at the scene of a slip and fall accident. There are steps you should take directly after the incident to protect yourself.
- Call for help and seek treatment. Look around you and call out to anyone in the immediate area. If necessary, call 911.
- Take photos. If possible, get photographs of the area documenting why you fell. For example, if you fell in water, take pictures of the water; if you tripped over an item, photograph the item. In general, take pictures that show the conditions around and the location of the fall. This is important to do before a representative of the store cleans up the evidence.
- Report the fall. Report the fall to store management. Do not sign any form unless you verify the entire form is accurate. If there is written documentation, request a copy.
- Gather witness information. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses to your fall.
- Look for cameras. Look to see if there are any cameras in the area of your fall and ask the store for a copy of the video if there is one. Access to video from the accident scene is most beneficial; however, if you don’t acquire the video quickly after the incident, there is a chance that it will not be available at a later date.
- Contact an attorney. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you are able. The advice of a professional that handles slip and fall accidents on a regular basis can help you recover due compensation.
Store owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by their negligence. If an injured person can prove that the store owner had knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused the fall or that the store owner should have had knowledge of the dangerous condition, the store owner could owe the injured party damages that include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
If you have experienced a fall due to someone else’s negligence, it costs you nothing to have your case evaluated by one of Grall Law Group’s premises liability attorneys. To find out how we can help you, contact our Personal Injury team at 772-773-6697.
As we approach Christmas and the New Year, I’m sure you’ve experienced the holiday hustle and you’re more than ready for the celebrations to get here. But now is the time to be on high alert. Here are some items to consider while shopping, cooking, or entertaining.
Last Minute Shopping
Last minute holiday shopping can be a dangerous endeavor. Parking lots are packed and holiday shoppers are in a frenzy to find the perfect gifts for their friends and family members. Be patient and be aware; consider your surroundings. These tips may be helpful to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you:
- Avoid distracted driving. Drivers have a lot on their minds during the holidays, and with the constant buzz of the holiday coupon notifications and package delivery texts, it’s tempting to pick up your phone while driving. Get to your destination safely before checking your phone. There isn’t a holiday deal that’s worth an accident.
- Use designated crosswalks when crossing streets and walkways. Distracted drivers and busy parking lots make it difficult to get from your car to the store and back. Use the designated walking areas and make eye contact with drivers before crossing their paths, so they will be more aware of your presence and make smart decisions.
- Always wear a seat belt – even when driving in a parking lot. Parking lots can be more dangerous than the roadways this time of year. You may not be able to avoid an accident, but you can avoid injuries by always wearing your seat belt and asking your passengers to do the same. And don’t forget about the kids – even if it’s a short distance between stops, it is necessary to have a child passenger strapped into their car seat or booster with a seat belt at all times.
- Report potential hazards to the proper authorities. If you witness an accident waiting to happen, tell someone who can help. For example, if you’re in the mall and see a spill on the floor, locate a store employee and stand with them while they clean it up. This will keep them on top of the task and prevent other people from falling in the mess in the meantime.
Memories are made over the preparation of holiday meals, but holiday kitchens can become chaotic. Everyone tends to gather in the kitchen, so the space can get tight quickly. Here’s a list of safety tips to keep those kitchen memories joyous:
- Always use oven mitts when handling hot items. This should be common sense, but chaos and noise can interfere with common sense.
- If there is a kitchen fire, do not throw water on it – smother it. Cover the fire with a large pot lid or soup pan. If you have an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. Whenever possible, keep a fire extinguisher nearby and give your guests a tour of the safety devices available.
- Do not wear loose clothing when cooking near hot surfaces or open flames. Not only could a low hanging sleeve catch fire over the stove, but it could end up in your potatoes during dinner. If you’re involved with the food preparation, it’s best to tuck away excess material to avoid fires, burns, and unnecessary dry cleaning bills.
- Keep your knives sharp. Believe it or not, dull knives are more likely to lead to an injury than a sharp knife, and if your can opener breaks, go to the store and buy a new one. Do not attempt to open canned food with a knife.
- Mop it up! If something spills, clean it up before you or someone else slips and falls.
It’s always an honor to host during the holidays, but with great honor comes great responsibility. You want your guests to be comfortable and safe. Needless to say, considerable planning and preparation must go into hosting to ensure that guests have a memorable time related to the joy and cheerfulness of the season. Below is a list of safety tips to remember before inviting guests into your home this Christmas:
- To reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents, keep walkways in your home and yard free of holiday lights and other decorations. If a person trips and falls on electric cords or is injured due to a hazardous situation, you could be liable since as the property owners you must take reasonable measures to ensure that your property is safe and hazard-free. Don’t forget the path to the entrance of your home. Be sure it is well lit and free from any tripping hazards.
- Do not leave gifts with small pieces lying around. Small children will inevitably put found items in their mouths, and choking is the leading cause of toy-related deaths. You won’t be able to keep an eye on all of the children all the time, so do a sweep of the house before guests arrive to ensure a safe environment for infants and toddlers.
- Designate a driver. Encourage your guests to designate a driver before they arrive or provide some type of alternate transportation if alcohol will be served. The consequences of drunk driving are life-changing and not worth the risk. Not only does drunk driving result in liability for any alcohol-related accidents, but it can also result in jail time. If you are hosting a holiday party, do not let party guests get behind the wheel if they are intoxicated.
At Grall Law Group, we love Christmas and the joy it brings to our community. We celebrate the New Year, as each year brings new opportunity. We want you to have a happy and safe holiday season. If you or a loved one suffers an injury due to the fault of someone else over the holidays, we want to be there to help. Give us a call for a free consultation – 772-773-6697. We will discuss your legal options and fight for the compensation you deserve. Grall Law Group, your personal injury attorneys, wishes everyone a happy, and safe, holiday season!
How many people do you know who don’t own a smartphone? Chances are, very few. These powerful mobile devices have become ubiquitous in the U.S. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own one. Just six years ago, it was 35%. Gone are the days where phones were primarily used for mere verbal communication. Now over three-quarters of the population can text, email, access the internet, get directions, take pictures, post to social media, and play video games from the palm of their hand. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that this increase in smartphone ownership means that more people than ever are using their phones while driving.
Reliable research on phone use while driving is difficult to come by. That’s because most of the data currently available requires people to self-report the behavior. However, newer studies that use smartphones themselves to analyze their usage indicate that an alarming number of people use their phones while behind the wheel. One such study conducted by Zendrive analyzed over three million anonymous drivers over a three month period. The study found that, on average, those drivers used their phones during 88 out of 100 trips. During an hour-long trip, drivers spent an average of 3.5 minutes using their phones. That’s scary if you consider that at 55 mph you can travel 80 feet, about the size of a high school basketball court, in one second. That means a text that takes four seconds to read will keep the readers eyes off the road for a distance the length of a football field.
In representing those injured in auto accidents, we’ve seen first-hand the increase in distracted driving incidents caused by phone use. Invariably during our consultations we find ourselves asking clients “was the other driver using their phone at the time of the accident?” With increasing regularity, the answer to that question is “yes.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving. Those figures include some distractions that were not smartphone related, however, it’s easy to argue the numbers are artificially low since crash investigations don’t reliably uncover all instances of distracted driving.
Crash report investigations that don’t result in death are surprisingly lacking in detail. If involved in accident, you may assume that any officers that report to the scene are conducting an investigation that includes analyzing physical evidence, interviewing witnesses, and taking down witnesses’ contact information. Often, you’d be wrong. To the extent that you’re able, it’s best to write down the names and contact information of everyone who may have relevant information about how the accident occurred. If the officer tells you that they believe the other driver was distracted by a phone or other device at the time of the accident, ask them why they believe that. Such information may be crucial in demonstrating the fault of the distracted driver.
Another common misconception is that the reporting officer will gain access to the at-fault driver’s phone or phone records to determine if the device was used at the time of the accident. However, investigating officers are not permitted access to such information without a warrant. Absent evidence of criminal activity, a warrant cannot be issued.
By now, most Americans have been made aware that phone use while driving is dangerous. Still for some, the urge to stay in the loop is too strong ignore. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, contact our office today for a free consultation – 772-773-6697.
We hear it all of the time: “My page is set to private” or “I don’t see what the big deal is about posting on Facebook.” The reality is, when you have a personal injury claim, everything that you do is heavily scrutinized by insurance adjusters and defense attorneys with one goal – limiting the amount of money paid out on your claim. Keep in mind, the defense isn’t going to use your photos or posts that highlight how you’ve been struggling since the accident. They will attempt to selectively utilize the photos or posts that make it seem like you’ve been feeling fantastic since the accident. Heck, they may even try to make it seem like your life is better off because of the accident.
An example might help to make this more real:
- A car accident just totaled your car. It wasn’t your fault and your body hurts all over. You go straight to social media and tell the world about how upset you are about the accident. You loved that car. It is going to cost you a lot of money to replace it. The comments start pouring in with people hoping that you are okay. You provide a response we have seen numerous times, downplaying your injuries, “I’m fine, I’m just angry about my car.” You decline medical treatment because you expect that your injuries will go away. Unfortunately, as the days go on your symptoms get worse. You finally go to the doctor ten days after the accident when you realize you are not getting better.
- You have tried to do everything the only way you know how: not complaining about your injuries, not running up medical bills, not rushing into a claim against the defendant. The defendant’s insurance adjuster should send you a thank you card. Don’t get me wrong, what you have done is commendable. Unfortunately, your commendable actions can and will be used against you.
We negotiate personal injury claims on a daily basis. We hear the same arguments over and over from insurance adjusters and defense attorneys in these situations – “She must not have been that hurt.” “He didn’t even go to the hospital by ambulance.” “She didn’t get treatment for ten days.”
With social media, these arguments become much stronger because now the injured person himself is on record minimizing his own injuries. “He said he was fine after the accident on _______ (insert social media site here).” “He posted pictures of himself smiling while holding his child a week after this accident. There is no way he injured his shoulder in this accident. In fact, he probably hurt his shoulder while lifting his child.”
As silly as it may seem, these arguments, when presented to a jury that does not know you, may be very persuasive.
If possible, try to avoid social media altogether following an accident. If that is too much to ask, try to avoid posts about the accident, your injuries, and photographs of yourself. And it’s not just your posts. Posts of your friends and family may also be used against you. The best advice is to request that people close to you also refrain from posting about your accident and injuries.
Social media accounts with public settings are readily accessible to those searching for information to use against you. Even when your accounts are set to private, some courts are granting access to defense attorneys.
Social media can be a great tool for interacting with others. It can also be a great tool for the defense. Avoiding social media traps is critical to ensuring that you obtain the recovery you are entitled to under the law. Contact the personal injury lawyers at Grall Law Group for a free consultation.
Sen. Tom Lee of Tampa and Rep. Erin Grall of Vero Beach have filed legislation to have Florida join 48 other states that require motorists to carry bodily injury insurance. The bodily injury requirement would replace the mandate that forces drivers to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage, whether they need it or not.
Florida’s auto insurance laws – with coverage set at 1970s rates – have inadequate financial responsibility requirements. As a result, residents and businesses needlessly pay millions of dollars a year in higher taxes and higher insurance premiums. Drivers and taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab for the treatment and care of victims of negligent drivers who are either uninsured or, more commonly, underinsured.
The Florida Justice Association supports this legislation and we need your help to pass the bills. If you have clients, or have had to turn down potential clients, who have been negatively impacted by the state’s auto insurance laws, we need them to share their stories. If you would like to play a role, or have clients who would like to get involved.
The Florida coastline sees far more motorcyclists than most other states. The sunny, warm weather and beautiful landscape draw more bikers every year. However, since 2002, when the Florida helmet law was repealed, the number of accidents causing traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries increases every year exponentially. Nationwide, 93,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents in 2012, and nearly 5,000 ended in death.
These sobering numbers define the vulnerabilities of motorcyclists in Florida. With far less protection than riding in an enclosed vehicle, motorcycle riders are at greater risk of serious injury or death in the event of a collision with another vehicle or object. Nevertheless, those responsible for a motorcycle accident need to be held responsible for their negligence. This is why you need a focused and experienced personal injury attorney.
What Compensation Can a Skilled Attorney Get For Me?
Grall Law Group understands the risks that motorcyclists take and the fact that they are barely of any consequence to anyone on the road besides themselves. Distracted car drivers and poor road maintenance can make for a treacherous path for motorcyclists. Bike wrecks are often far more detrimental than car wrecks, and the pain and suffering, expenses, and lost wages can quickly increase to an inconceivable amount. You may be owed for some or all of the following:
- lost wages
- future earning potential
- medical bills
- rehabilitation and physical therapy
- special equipment
- physical impairment or disfigurement
- pain and suffering
- emotional/mental anguish
- wrongful death
Aside from getting you compensation for your losses, we will make you feel like family. We want to get to know you and listen to your case. We then work hard to get you the compensation that you deserve. However, in order to do our job effectively, we need you to take action immediately. The situation under which you were injured must be scrutinized and evaluated, and the longer you wait to call our law office, the harder it is to evaluate the conditions of the motorcycle accident.
How Do I know I’m Choosing a Good Lawyer?
Grall Law Group is a family business and is focused on helping clients with personal injury claims. Unlike other law offices that juggle many different areas of law, we have committed our entire office to helping victims with sensitive matters such as traumatic injury and family affairs. We know what a serious injury does to the family unit and that you may feel disconnected from the lawyers popping up on the internet searches. You do not want to feel vulnerable or unsure who to trust. If you have suffered a personal injury, call us immediately at 772-773-6697. Rest assured you have an compassionate and skilled lawyer working to bring justice to you and your family.
It can happen at any moment: suddenly you are injured and rushed to the hospital because of someone else’s negligence. Home and business owners need to take precautions to protect the safety of those on the premises. A fall, slipping or tripping, a dog bite, swimming pool accident, unsafe walkway or stairs, inadequate security, malfunctioning elevator – if you have an accident or sustain an injury because of a property owner’s negligence, you may have a premises liability case. Call Grall Law Group to schedule a consultation. Time is of the essence when dealing with a personal injury claim.
What are my First Steps in Pursuing a Premises Liability Claim?
Because the circumstances under which you were injured must be inspected, assessed and investigated, it is crucial that you begin the legal process as soon as possible. Grall Law Group strives to ensure that your right to pursue financial compensation is protected. If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, be sure to:
- Write down the details of your accident as best as you remember.
- Return to the accident site or send someone trusted in your place to protect any evidence and locate any witnesses who can help prove your case.
- Be sure to keep your medical records on hand after your accident.
- Notify people who may be responsible for your injury.
Grall Law Group can execute this process for you or help you to carry out the necessary steps in filing a premises liability claim. Call our office immediately so that precious time does not slip away. You deserve and require financial compensation. Let us work on this for you.
How Can I Get in Touch with Grall Law Group?
The attorneys at Grall Law Group understand the difficult time that you are going through. Unlike other law offices that juggle many different areas of law, the team at Grall Law Group only focuses in personal injury and criminal defense. We are committed to helping with sensitive matters such as traumatic injury and family affairs. If you should have any doubts, please refer to our list of credentials and then call us immediately at 772-773-6697. Rest assured you have an experienced and determined lawyer who has handled hundreds of cases just like yours working to bring justice to you and your family.