+Q: I was recently involved in a car accident. Is there anything I need to do before I call an attorney?
A: Being involved in an automobile accident can be a very traumatic event. Often times one is under too much emotional stress to realize they are injured or to take important steps necessary to make your claim stronger. If possible, take pictures of any property damage and physical injuries apparent on your person. Also, if you have any doubt regarding whether you are hurt, immediately go to the hospital or an urgent care center.
A: This is a question I hear often and most of the time people are misinformed regarding what that really means. In Florida, drivers are required to carry a certain minimum automobile coverage, which includes $10,000.00 of PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. PIP covers 80% of medicals bills incurred up to $10,000.00 when someone is injured in an automobile accident. However, in 2013, Florida’s PIP law was amended and now requires those injured in automobile accidents to seek care within 14 days of their accident or they will receive no PIP benefits at all. Additionally, that law also states that if there is no diagnosis of an “Emergency Medical Condition” then PIP benefits can be limited to $2,500.00.
+Q: I was in an automobile accident and the other driver had no insurance. Can I still make a claim for my injuries, medical bills and pain and suffering?
A: Florida was recently ranked the 5th highest number of uninsured motorists in the country. In light of that figure, the best way to ensure you are appropriately compensated is by purchasing uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (“UM”). This type of coverage comes into play in those situations where the at-fault party has no insurance or does not have enough coverage to compensate you for your injuries. Also, if a “phantom vehicle” (such as a hit and run) causes your accident, your UM insurance will likely cover that incident.
+Q: I was injured in an accident and have missed a lot of time from work? Can I be compensated for time I miss from work?
A: So long as you file tax returns and can demonstrate through those records that you have lost wages and/or salary due to your accident, you can be compensated for that loss as well. Additionally, if your accident is so severe that you can no longer work at all, Florida law allows a claim for loss of future earning capacity.
A: While at first glance the answer to this question seems obvious, often times these types of claims are difficult to bring because they are tough to prove. Florida law requires proof that the store owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition (such as soda spilled on the floor) that caused the fall. Such notice can be proven by demonstrating that the dangerous condition was around long enough that the store should have known of it or that such a condition occurs regularly that an accident is foreseeable. In sum, simply slipping and falling in a store doesn’t guarantee you have a valid legal claim.
+Q: Lawyers are really expensive! How am I supposed to pay an attorney to represent me if I am injured in an accident?
A: Despite the existence of many commercials and billboards stating: “We don’t get paid unless you get paid”, I still get asked this question often. Personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingent basis, which means we only earn a fee if we are able to obtain a recovery for you. If there is no recovery, you pay nothing, not even costs.
+Q: I always hear people say: “Don’t blow if you are pulled over after you’ve been drinking”, but won’t I lose my license and get arrested if I don’t cooperate with the police?
A: First of all, let it be known that Steinberg Law does not condone drinking and driving. Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous and significantly increases the chances of causing an injury or death. That said, if you are pulled over after having a few drinks, there are certain rights that most people aren’t aware they have. For instance, you have a right to refuse to answer questions asked by law enforcement. Also, you do not have to participate in roadside tests, such as the walk and turn and the finger to nose exercise. And yes, you absolutely have a right not to submit to a Breathalyzer test. If you submit to any of the above tests and “fail”, you will still get arrested, lose your driver’s license and the government will have even more evidence to use against you.
A: Thankfully, the answer is no. However, there are certain situations in which it is allowed. For starters, if you consent to any search, there are no further steps law enforcement needs to take. They can search away. However, if you do not consent to a search, and there aren’t other exigent circumstances (such as your roommate trying to flush a pound of marijuana down the toilet), law enforcement needs probable cause to conduct a search. For example, if you are pulled over and your car reeks of fresh marijuana smoke, your car can be lawfully searched.
+Q: If I am arrested and in custody and the police want to ask me questions, do I have to answer their questions?
A: No. First of all, before law enforcement can interrogate you, they must read you your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. In fact, the second you invoke your right to counsel (“I need to speak with my lawyer”), the police must stop asking you questions immediately. If law enforcement fail to follow those procedures, any and all evidence, including statements and physical evidence, may be inadmissible against you in court.
+Q: I got into trouble when I was younger and I am concerned I may have a hard time finding a job because of my criminal record. Is there anything I can do to clear my record?
A: This is another question that I am asked on a fairly regular basis. In Florida, there are certain criminal arrest records that can be sealed or expunged. First of all, any charge that resulted in a conviction cannot be sealed or expunged. Also, any crimes of a sexual nature or fraud are not eligible to be sealed or expunged. In Florida, you are limited to only one seal or expungement of a record, so choose wisely.
+Q: If an officer wants to stop me while I’m walking on the street and I know I’ve done nothing wrong, should I comply?
A: A law enforcement officer may interfere with your freedom of movement only if he or she has reasonably observed unusual activity suggesting that criminal activity is afoot and that you are involved. However, if that stop does not ultimately lead to probable cause that you have committed or intend to imminently commit a crime, you are free to leave. In reality, it is important to remain calm when dealing with law enforcement and be as polite and respectful as possible.