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2020 Guide to Making a Personal Injury Claim in Tampa

— July 17, 2020

A lawyer can help you assess your claim, identify and gather relevant evidence, calculate your potential damages, negotiate your settlement, and draft and file your claim.

Unfortunately, personal injury accidents happen every day and can occur in nearly any place at any time. Personal injuries can arise in the workplace, on the road, in a grocery store, or even in a hospital. Regardless of where your accident or injury occurred, navigating the personal injury claims process can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. And on top of that, you will often still need to worry about recovering from your injuries. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in Tampa, Florida, it may be time to start thinking about making a personal injury claim. But where do you begin?

This guide will discuss how to make a personal injury claim in Tampa. For more detailed information and to discuss your particular personal injury case, contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer today to get the process started. 

Tampa Personal Injury Claims Process: An Overview

If you have sustained injuries due to the fault of another party, you may have a potential personal injury claim. Common situations that may lead to a personal injury case include: 

  • Workplace accidents, 
  • Car accidents,
  • Dog bites,
  • Slip and fall accidents, 
  • Medical malpractice, and 
  • Assault. 

If any of the above apply to you, you may be able to initiate a personal injury lawsuit.

Person at bottom of stairs; image by Free-Photos, via
Person at bottom of stairs; image by Free-Photos, via

People often think of a personal injury claim as just the court trial. However, there are many other crucial steps in making a personal injury claim. In fact, in most situations, you may not even need to reach trial to fully resolve your claim. 

Below are the steps that you will most likely need to take to successfully make your personal injury claim: 

  • Take any necessary steps at the accident scene;
  • Seek immediate medical attention;
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer; 
  • Attempt to negotiate a settlement; and
  • File a lawsuit (if necessary).

Let’s discuss each of these steps in more detail below. 

Take Any Necessary Steps at the Accident Scene

There are certain steps that should be taken immediately at the scene of an accident if you are physically able. 

For example, according to Florida law, you must immediately report to the police or Florida Highway Patrol any accident that results in the following: 

  • Death, 
  • Injury, or 
  • Property damage of over $500. 

This is important to create a written record of the accident as soon as possible after it occurs.

In other scenarios, such as a slip and fall accident, reporting may not be statutorily required. However, you should still make and file a written report with the business before leaving. Just as with a car accident, you need to create a written record containing as many facts about the accident as possible. 

Additionally, it is also important to gather as much relevant evidence at the scene of the accident as possible. Very often, some of the best evidence will be present at the accident scene. But as time passes, less and less evidence will exist. Types of evidence you should collect at the accident scene, where possible, include: 

  • Photos, 
  • Witness statements, and
  • Identification information of other parties involved. 

Making sure to gather this crucial evidence can help improve your chances of bringing a successful personal injury claim. 

Seek Immediate Medical Attention to Assess Your Injuries

An often overlooked but essential step in the personal injury claims process is to seek immediate medical attention. This will allow you to get a proper diagnosis of any injuries that may exist. It will also provide proof as to the extent and severity of your injuries. This can be used later in the claims process to help determine what monetary damages may exist. 

Even if you do not notice any physical pain in the immediate aftermath of your accident or injury, it is still important that you seek an opinion from a medical profession. Some injuries, while still serious, may not be noticeable immediately. Examples of these non-visible, “hidden,” or delayed injuries include: 

  • Whiplash, 
  • Concussion,
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI), 
  • PTSD, and
  • Spinal cord trauma.

Failure to promptly and properly address the types of injuries above may lead to worsening of any damage that exists. It can even result in more long-term effects. Additionally, failure to seek medical attention after your accident may result in an inability to prove to the opposing party what damages you may ultimately be entitled to. Thus, it is extremely important to take this step and seek medical attention as soon as practicable. 

Once you’ve sought initial advice and assessment from a medical professional, you should continue monitoring how you feel. If you notice any changes in your condition in the coming days, weeks, and months, you should follow up with your doctor to assess the progression of your recovery. 

Contact a Lawyer

After you’ve taken the first step of assessing your injuries, you should then look into hiring an attorney to help you with the rest of the claims process. 

Hiring an attorney is never necessary in moving forward with a personal injury claim. Nevertheless, having an attorney in your corner will often be a great asset to your case. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with: 

  • Gathering evidence, 
  • Calculating damages, 
  • Negotiating with opposing parties, 
  • Filing your lawsuit, and 
  • Handling trial. 

Florida personal injury law can be intricate and difficult to understand. However, a personal injury lawyer, with extensive experience and knowledge of the law, can help make a complicated process feel more manageable.

Attempt to Negotiate a Settlement

Once you have all the information you need to bring a personal injury claim, there is one final step that you should take before actually filing your claim. It is generally recommended that parties attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement before moving forward with filing an action. 

Often, it is actually preferred for all parties involved to avoid going to court over a personal injury claim. This is because litigating a personal injury claim to conclusion can be a long, expensive, and emotionally draining process. In fact, it has been reported that up to 97 percent of all civil cases are resolved before trial. 

Resolving a personal injury dispute through negotiations and settlement can save you valuable time and expense that you can ultimately put toward what matters most—working on your recovery. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with opposing parties, their attorneys, and insurance companies to work toward getting you a fair settlement that will allow you to recover from your injuries, all while avoiding the time and expense that litigation will almost certainly bring. 

File a Lawsuit (If Necessary)

In some cases, despite your best efforts or those of your lawyer, you may not be able to reach an agreeable settlement. If that is the case, then the next step will be to file a lawsuit against the opposing party or parties. 

If you have taken the appropriate steps up through this point, you should have all the information you will need to move forward with filing your claim. Beware, however, of the statute of limitations for filing such an action. In Florida, depending on the types of personal injury claim you are bringing, the statute of limitations will generally be either two or four years. 

This means that you must file your claim within two or four years of the date the cause of action arose. Failure to do so could result in waiving your right to bring your legal claim at all. 

Thus, it is crucial that you have an attorney work with you throughout your case. They can ensure that the proper procedure is followed so that you can successfully bring your claim. 

How an Injury Lawyer Can Help

While this guide gives a broad overview of personal injury claims in Tampa, Florida, there are still many intricacies that make this an extremely difficult process. If you have sustained injuries in an accident in Florida, strongly consider reaching out to an experienced legal professional to help you with your claim. 

A lawyer can help you assess your claim, identify and gather relevant evidence, calculate your potential damages, negotiate your settlement, and draft and file your claim. The benefits of having a lawyer in your corner advocating on your behalf cannot be overstated. 

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