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Here at Sinclair Law, it happens every day. We answer the phone or someone walks in and the first thing they say is “I’m not sure if you can help me or not” or some words to that effect. The truth is, many times, people are not sure if they a need an attorney to help them with a personal injury case or if they even have grounds to file a claim.

The frequency that we hear this question has caused me to pause and ask myself “How many people who should be receiving compensation never even bother to seek professional advice?” As someone that has dedicated their life to protecting the rights of the little guy, against the big money establishment, this is not something fun to contemplate.

So, in the hopes of helping those who have been unjustly injured find hope and those that we sadly can’t help, we here at Sinclair Law have prepared a checklist of sorts that can help you decide if you should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.

Have You Suffered an Injury?

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the first question you need to ask yourself is “Have I suffered an injury?”

To file a personal injury claim, either you or your loved ones must have suffered a physical or emotional injury.

As examples:

If you have been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault or were attacked by your neighbor’s dog and required medical treatment, then you would have a strong claim. However, if your dog was attacked or you were not injured in the accident then you probably don’t.

Under Florida law, dogs are considered property and of course, cars are property. You cannot file a personal injury claim for damages against property.

Was Someone Else at Fault?

This is a slightly more complicated question. In some cases, fault is obvious, but in others not so apparent. If someone runs a red light and hits you then the fault is clearly theirs. However, if someone loses control of their bike and strikes your car due to unmarked roadwork, then fault can become a little more complicated to establish.

The services of a personal injury attorney and the professionals they work with would need to be consulted.

Have You Already Accepted a Settlement Offer?

This is a major question that could easily have been top of the list. In the majority of cases, once you have accepted a settlement offer, from a negligent party or their insurance company, you cannot file any further claims against them.

When Did, the Accident Occur?

Under Florida Statutes Annotated section 95.11(3) personal injury claims made on the basis of negligence are limited to a 4-year statute of limitations. However, if your injury occurred on a cruise ship that time limit could be as short as 6 months.

Did Your Injury Result in Monetary Losses?

Lost wages, medical bills, loss of productivity can all be considered as monetary losses. These are normally the easiest to prove and can greatly bolster a personal injury claim. This doesn’t mean that they are the only damages that are recoverable, but they are simplest claims to prove.

Wrongful Death Claims

These are often the saddest and most complicated cases to put together, but also some of the most rewarding, on our part, to settle. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, due to the negligence of others, you should definitely seek legal advice.

Hopefully, these questions will be of some help to you in deciding if you should seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney. The main points to take away from this are that if you don’t ask, you won’t know. Never accept an offer from an insurance company -anyone else for that matter- never sign any paperwork, until you seen the advice of an attorney.