Frequently Asked Questions

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GENERAL PERSONAL INJURY LAW QUESTIONS

I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY, HOW CAN I AFFORD YOUR SERVICES? 

Joseph C. Miller, P.A. charges legal fees only when clients receive compensation for their injuries, and his fee is a percentage of the compensation that is set by the Florida State Bar. Be aware that even if you lose the case, you are still responsible for court costs (such as filing fees), and any amount charged by witnesses to testify in your case.

HOW LONG DOES A PERSONAL INJURY CASE TAKE TO RESOLVE? 

The duration of a case varies significantly depending on the specific circumstances. Six months is a good estimate for a relatively simple case (Auto Accident with a clear at-fault party). However, some of the more complex cases can take a several years or more to resolve.

AUTO ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

I HAVE THE MINIMUM CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE ALLOWED BY FLORIDA LAW, AND SO DOES THE GUY WHO CRASHED INTO ME. HOW WELL AM I COVERED?

The minimum legal auto insurance allowed by the State of Florida gives you $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance.

  • The PDL insurance the other guy has covers the damage done to things; so up to $10,000 worth of thingsdamaged by the accident are covered. If the only thing damaged was your car, that money will go to cover your expenses. But if, for example, he took out a phone pole on the way to your car, part of that money will go to the phone company as well.
  • The PIP insurance you have will cover 80% of your medical bills (after deductible) and 60% of your lost wages up to your $10,000 limit. You are only allowed to pursue compensation from the PIP insurance of the guy who hit you if your injuries from the accident include “permanent injury”, “disfigurement”, or “significant and permanent scarring.”

TRUCK ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

WHAT MAKES TRUCK ACCIDENTS DIFFERENT FROM AUTO ACCIDENTS?

We are talking about semi-trucks, not pickups and SUVs. There are a number of Federal laws regarding how professional truck drivers must behave in order to remain sufficiently alert and aware on the road. In addition, bringing a suit involving a trucking accident often means suing a company, which makes such cases typically far more complex.

WRONGFUL DEATH QUESTIONS

WHO IS ALLOWED TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT?

Florida law allows a wrongful death suit to be filed only by spouses, children, parents, or other relatives or adoptive siblings who were dependent on the deceased for financial or emotional support.

WHAT DAMAGES MAY BE SOUGHT IN A WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT? 

Anyone who benefited from the deceased’s financial support may sue for the loss of that support as well as for medical and/or funeral expenses. In addition:

  • A spouse or child may seek damages for loss of companionship and protection, and for mental pain and suffering.
  • A parent may seek damages for mental pain and suffering, with additional damages awarded if the deceased was their only living child.

DOG BITE INJURY QUESTIONS

IS AN OWNER LIABLE FOR A DOG BITE IF IT'S THE FIRST TIME THAT DOG HAS ATTACKED A HUMAN? 

In the state of Florida, yes. The state has a ‘strict liability’ policy surrounding dogs.

ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS? 

Just one: if the dog attack happened on the owner’s property, the dog was properly fenced in or otherwise contained, a “Beware of Dog” or similar sign was posted, and the victim was 6 years of age or older, the owner is not liable for the damages caused by the attack.

SLIP AND FALL QUESTIONS

WHAT DO I NEED TO PROVE IN A SLIP AND FALL CASE?

In Florida, a Slip and Fall case requires you to prove the following:

  • The owner of the premises owed you a ‘duty of care’ (usually meaning they invited you, even implicitly such as by being ‘open for business’ onto property they control and should safely maintain).
  • They did not, in fact, safely maintain the premises.
  • You were injured due to their failure to safely maintain the premises.

PREMISES LIABILITY QUESTIONS

CAN I REALLY BE SUED BY A TRESPASSER WHO HURT THEMSELVES WHILE, FOR EXAMPLE, ATTEMPTING TO BURGLARIZE MY HOME?

Yes, but only under very limited circumstances. In Florida, the only ‘duty of care’ you owe a trespasser is to “refrain from willful or wonton injury”; which means the burglar can only sue you if, for example, you deliberately set a trap for him that injured him.

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

WHAT MAKES MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS DIFFERENT FROM AUTO ACCIDENTS?

There are several nuances of law that make motorcycle accidents unique, but one of the most critical factors is that in Florida, PIP insurance (see Auto Accident FAQs above) is not required on vehicles with less than four wheels. This means that it in many cases, motorcycle drivers do not have PIP insurance, making it far more difficult to get your medical bills paid if you are injured in a motorcycle accident.

BOATING ACCIDENT QUESTIONS

WHAT MAKES BOATING ACCIDENTS DIFFERENT FROM AUTO ACCIDENTS?

There are several unique factors. The intersections between Admiralty law, Federal law, State law, and local law are extremely complex. Add to that the fact that many boat operators are unskilled, unlicensed, often first-time users with no insurance, and Boating Accidents rapidly ramp up into levels of complexity that require the skilled assistance of an attorney with specific experience in this particular area of the law.

NURSING HOME ABUSE QUESTIONS

WHO IS ALLOWED TO FILE A NURSING HOME ABUSE SUIT?

Florida law only allows a suit to be filed by the resident themselves or by an immediate family member if the resident is physically or mentally incapable of filing a lawsuit on their own behalf.

WHAT DAMAGES MAY BE SOUGHT IN A NURSING HOME ABUSE SUIT? 

In Florida, the damages you can seek in a Nursing Home Abuse suit are limited only by the actual cost of the abuse, with one exception; if a case of abuse causes the death of a resident, the family member filing the suit must choose to pursue the suit only as a Wrongful Death suit or as an Abuse suit. You cannot win damages for both the resident’s pain and suffering (Abuse) and the family’s pain and suffering (Wrongful Death).

CRIME VICTIMS QUESTIONS

DON'T CRIMINALS ALREADY HAVE TO PAY RESTITUTION FOR THEIR CRIMES? 

Yes, but restitution (when it is ordered at all) only pays (at most) for a victim’s immediate crime-related expenses such as medical bills from being assaulted or the value of stolen goods. Damages such as physical pain, mental trauma, and suffering must be sought in a civil case.

BUT DOESN'T THAT MEAN THE CRIMINAL PAYS TWICE FOR THE SAME CRIME?

No. Extensive checks and balances exist within the law to ensure that a criminal does not pay the same cost twice. This does not mean that restitution alone or compensation alone (such as from the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund) accurately measure the true amount of damage caused by the commission of a crime; all three (restitution, compensation, and damages) together, however, do.

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