Frequently Asked Questions
Auto Accidents FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about car accidents in Florida.
- How soon do I have to file an auto accident claim in Florida?
- Can I still receive a settlement if the accident was partially my fault?
- What compensation does Florida personal injury protection (PIP) coverage provide?
- Will I have to go to court?
- Should I settle directly with the insurance company?
- Important Reminders in an Auto Accident
How soon do I have to file an auto accident claim in Florida?
Florida allows four years to file personal injury claims including those for auto accident cases. Uninsured/underinsured motorist claims must be filed within five years of the date of accident. To ensure you do not lose the right to file a claim, it is important to consult with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident occurs.
Can I still receive a settlement if the accident was partially my fault?
Yes, regardless of your percentage of fault you may be entitled to compensation. Florida requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage that may pay up to $10,000 on any auto accident claim regardless of fault. If the other driver is at fault, you may also be eligible to receive further compensation by filing a property damage or bodily injury claim against the other party.
What compensation does Florida personal injury protection (PIP) coverage provide?
Basic PIP coverage offers compensation for 80 percent of medical costs and necessary remedial treatment and 60 percent of disability benefits for lost gross income and earning capacity up to a limit of $10,000. Florida PIP coverage also pays a one-time $5,000 death benefit.
Will I have to go to court?
The majority of personal injury and auto accident claims settle out of court. However, in certain cases going to trial may be the best, or only, option. Therefore, it is important to hire a personal injury attorney who is both an experienced negotiator and litigator.
Should I settle directly with the insurance company?
The insurance companies may offer you a quick settlement soon after the accident. However, in most cases, it may not be in your best interests to settle so quickly. Before you sign any documents or accept offers from the insurance company, it is best to first consult with an attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Once you accept a settlement offer, you lose the right to submit further claims, which may be a problem if your injuries worsen or your expenses are higher than anticipated.
Call today for a free consultation with an experienced legal team
Call Largey Law today at 352.508.1485 or contact the firm online to schedule a free initial consultation. Attorney Christopher Largey represents clients in personal injury cases in Leesburg, Lady Lake, Tavares, Clermont, Mount Dora, Beverly Hills, Homosassa, Inverness and all surrounding areas. Our firm has three convenient locations for its clients — one within the historic Jennings House in Tavares, one in Clermont and another office in downtown Inverness. We also offer weekend and evening appointments, and are happy to meet with you in your home or healthcare facility if necessary.
Criminal Defense FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about criminal law in Florida.
- What does being “Mirandized” mean?
- What happens if the arresting officer did not read me my Miranda rights?
- I am being investigated by law enforcement. If I retain a lawyer, won’t it make me look guilty?
- What does probable cause for arrest mean?
- Do I have a right to a bond? Furthermore what if the judge sets an unreasonable bond?
- Should I accept a plea or take my case to trial?
- What does burden of proof mean and how does it affect my case?
- Do I have to testify in my criminal case?
- How will a felony conviction affect my life?
- How do I appeal an unjust verdict?
Miranda v. Arizona was a landmark 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that law enforcement officers have a duty to inform defendants of certain constitutional rights during an arrest. The Miranda warnings include:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
If you are in police custody, officers are not supposed to question you unless you voluntarily waive your Miranda rights.
Your case does not go away. However, your responses to questions police asked you during the time you were not Mirandized may be suppressed — meaning they will not be allowed as evidence against you. The burden is on the state to establish that you understood and voluntarily waived your Miranda rights.
The state cannot use the fact that you retained an attorney as evidence against you. By hiring a lawyer, you are merely exercising a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. As a practical matter, law enforcement officers already suspect you of the crime, or they would not be investigating you. It is vital that you exercise your right to legal counsel. A good criminal defense attorney will make sure police officers follow the rules during their investigation and will prevent improperly obtained evidence from being used against you.
Police need probable cause to stop you, to search your home or vehicle, or to arrest you. The standard arises from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Probable cause means that the stop, search or arrest was based on enough information to lead a prudent person to believe that the arrested person had committed or was committing a crime.
A bond is meant to ensure that you will show up for your court appearances. You can be denied bond if the judge believes you are likely to flee the jurisdiction or that you pose a danger to yourself or others. If the judge sets your bond at an unreasonably high amount, our lawyers schedule a hearing and present evidence that supports reducing your bond.
This is often an extremely difficult decision for a defendant to make. You have the right to a trial, and so you never are compelled to accept a plea deal offered by the prosecution. Generally, it makes sense to go to trial if the prosecution is unwilling to negotiate a fair deal or does not have enough evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, a plea bargain that minimizes or avoids jail time or reduces the charge can make more sense than taking the risk of a conviction at trial, especially when the prosecution has powerful evidence against you.
The prosecution has the burden of proof. That means you do not have to prove you are innocent. The state must prove you are guilty. The standard of proof in criminal court is that the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher threshold than in civil cases.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right against self-incrimination. You cannot be forced to make statements during your prosecution or testify at your trial. However, you have the right to testify in your own defense if you wish to. This is an important decision. You and your lawyer thoroughly should discuss if taking the stand is in your best interest under the facts of your case. The biggest downside of testifying is that the state has the right to cross-examine you after you give your direct testimony.
A felony conviction can have many negative consequences, including:
- Barring you from voting in certain elections
- Prohibiting you from possessing a firearm
- Triggering deportation or removal proceedings
- Preventing you from obtaining permanent residency or U.S. citizenship
- Interfering with your employment opportunities
An appeal gives you the opportunity to have the judgment of the trial court reviewed by a higher court. You have a very narrow window in which to file your appeal, so it is imperative that you seek legal counsel immediately after the conclusion of your trial.
Get the answers you need
Learn about your rights and options if you have been arrested. Call Largey Law at 352.508.1485 or contact the firm online to discuss your case at a free initial consultation. Our legal team is available to help you in the evenings and on weekends, and we make appointments at your home or at the jail, if necessary. Our offices are in Tavares, Inverness and Clermont, and we serve clients throughout Central Florida. Se habla español.