To date, Aaron & Elissa have secured millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Potential clients often have questions as they explore their options and find the firm that best fits their needs. Aaron Warner, the firm’s Founding Partner, answers our most frequently asked questions.
Personal Injury FAQ
Do I have a good case?
At Warner & Fitzmartin, we will meet with you in a 100% free and confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case. No personal injury case is the same, and it is important to delve into the details of your particular case, from your injuries and damages, and to how the incident happened. Our lawyers have handled thousands of cases, each with different fact patterns and complexities, and will be able to advise you further regarding the merits of your case at the initial meeting.
How long will my personal injury case take from start to finish?
Since every personal injury case is different, the timeframe for resolving your case will be based on your individual needs. While some clients may be able to resolve their cases in a few short months, others may take years to resolve, whether because of the severity of their injuries or due to needing to file a lawsuit. The attorneys at Warner & Fitzmartin will guide you on the typical timeline for case resolution and will be able to give you more specific details as your case and medical treatment progresses.
How does the attorney get paid?
At Warner & Fitzmartin, we typically operate under a contingency fee contract. In its simplest terms, this means that we do not get paid an attorney’s fee unless we obtain a recovery on your case. Since there is no up-front cost for attorney’s fees, there is no risk to you to sign up as a client.
What should I do after an accident?
- Call the police and insist on completion of a report
- Document the scene and your injuries with photos and video if you’re able
- Get medical attention
- Call a skilled personal injury lawyer
What not to do after an accident
- Exchange information and leave the scene
- Make statements admitting fault such as apologizing
- Accept a payment from any insurance company without understanding the rights you’re giving up
- Talk to the insurance company without first hiring a lawyer
Common lies insurance companies and insurance agents tell people:
- You Have “Full Coverage”
– In Florida, the only automobile insurance coverages that are required are property damage coverage in the amount of $10,000, and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in the amount of $10,000. If you cause an accident, property damage coverage pays out to fix the other person’s car. If you are involved in an accident and sustain injuries, your PIP insurance will cover up to the first $10,000 of your medical bills whether you caused the accident or not. Neither of these insurances protect you if you cause an accident resulting in injury to another (for this, you need “bodily injury” coverage on your policy), or protect you if another uninsured person causes an accident resulting in injury to you (for this, you need “uninsured/underinsured motorist” coverage on your policy).
– Since bodily injury coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages are optional coverages in Florida, your agent may tell you that you are “fully insured” or have “full coverage,” which is technically true, but leaves you and your loved ones dangerously exposed if you’re involved in a serious crash resulting in injuries. At any time, you can call the lawyers at Warner & Fitzmartin for a free insurance coverage review. We will guide you on which coverages you already have on your current automobile insurance policy, and recommend additional coverages based on your needs.
- You don’t need UM if you have health insurance
– Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage is an optional coverage in Florida. This type of coverage protects you and your family if another person causes an accident resulting in injury to you or your family. You are entitled to claim certain damages under Florida law, including past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, past and future pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and mental anguish.
– Health insurance only pays for your medical bills. If you don’t have health insurance in the future, then you’ll have to pay your own bills out of pocket. Health insurance does not pay for any of the additional damages listed above such as pain and suffering.
– On the other hand, if you purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you are entitled to make a claim for these non-economic damages which are often more significant to you than your medical bills alone. When injuries have an adverse effect on your everyday life, you should be compensated for how your life has changed. Although health insurance may pay for some medical bills, it will never fully compensate you for the ways your life has changed due to your permanent injuries.
- Your rates will increase if you make an injury claim
– Many clients are concerned that if they use their no-fault PIP insurance, or if they make a claim against their own insurance company for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits, that they risk their insurance rates skyrocketing.
– Your rates should not increase so long as you are not found to be “substantially at fault” for the accident. It is important if you feel you are not at fault for an accident to make sure the police report is correctly documented, and to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer to help secure a liability decision in your favor.
– Further, if you have paid the premiums for your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you should use the insurance you paid for.
- You will get dropped from your insurance if you get an accident
– This is simply not true. Florida has strict laws which protect automobile insurance consumers. According to Florida Statute 626.9702(2), an insurer cannot cancel or terminate any automobile insurance contract after the insured has paid the premiums on such policy for 5 years or more, solely because the insured is involved in a single traffic accident. This statute protects long-term policy holders and applies whether they are at fault for an accident or not.
– In addition, Florida Statute 626.9541 states, in part, that “An insurer may not fail to renew a policy if the insured has had only one accident in which he or she was at fault within the current 3-year period. However…this subparagraph does not prohibit nonrenewal of a policy under which the insured has had three or more accidents, regardless of fault, during the most recent 3-year period.”
– This means that if you’re involved in 1 at-fault accident within 3 years, your insurance company cannot non-renew your policy. However, if you have 3 accidents within 3 years, regardless of fault, the insurance company can choose to drop you.
- You don’t need a lawyer
– In recent years, insurance companies have started approaching persons involved in car crashes within a day or two of the crash, to convince them to settle their case for small amounts and before the full extent of their injuries are apparent. These companies will try to convince injured people to sign documents giving away their rights to make a claim for injuries before they can even consult with a lawyer. One of the lies insurance companies may tell you is that you don’t need a lawyer because all the lawyer will do is take a portion of your settlement as their fee.
– In my opinion, it is a mistake to sign these documents without first consulting with a lawyer. In addition, it is also a mistake not to hire a lawyer to represent you. Insurance companies often act as bullies, and will take advantage of you by trying to convince you to settle your case for less than what it is worth. An experienced attorney, like the attorneys at Warner & Fitzmartin, know what your case is truly worth, and will fight to maximize your recovery. If you do not hire a lawyer, you are likely leaving valuable settlement dollars on the negotiation table.
Property Insurance Claims FAQ
What Can We Do For You?
We help by representing Florida homeowners and business owners resolve disputes with their insurance companies or negligent parties. At Warner & Fitzmartin, we typically operate under a contingency fee contract. In its simplest terms, this means that we do not get paid an attorney’s fee unless we obtain a recovery on your case. In many situations, we may be entitled to recover our fees and costs directly from the insurance company pursuant to Florida law.
What To Do Now Before A Loss?
Your Insurance Policy
Make sure you have and know where an up to date copy of your insurance policy is at all times for your business, home, and property. Contact your insurance agent by phone or email and ask for a full copy of your insurance policy for the current policy period and be mindful of renewal dates. These types of insurance policies are constantly changing every year upon renewal, which makes it very important to know what, if any, changes or endorsements are added to your insurance policy.
The 5 Main Coverages in your Property Insurance Policy
- Dwelling – The building structure on your property and structures attached to it. For example, your house, attached garage, or porch.
- Other Structures – Structures on your property, separated from the actual dwelling (your house). For example, a shed, detached garage, gazebo, or fence.
- Personal Property – Personal Property can cover your belongings like electronics, appliances, clothing and furniture.
- Liability – Personal liability coverage can cover insureds for claims and lawsuits brought when other persons are injured or other properties are damaged under certain situations.
- Loss of Use & Additional Living Expenses – These types of coverages can provide payments for alternative temporary living arrangements and expenses or payment for lost rent depending on the terms of your policy.
Your Personal Property Inventory and Contents
Documentation is the key to quickly and properly getting your insurance claim paid and resolved. The attorneys at Warner & Fitzmartin have helped clients with claims involving damages to their home and business for unavoidable and unpredictable casualties, like lightning strikes and fires that can cause property and valuable items to be lost or damaged beyond repair. We recommend that all homeowners prepare an organized inventory of their valuable items and property at least once a year.
What To Do After A Loss?
Do your best to mitigate any damage but call professionals for help when needed. Safety is always the number one priority.
Take photographs or video of any damage and keep organized records of any invoices, receipts, documents, and everything provided to you by your insurance company.
Most insurance policies require that you comply with various conditions and requests by your insurance company. All property insurance policies require insureds to provide prompt notice of their claim, to protect the property from further damage, and to cooperate with the insurance companies’ investigation of the loss. Your insurance company also has various requirements it must meet under the terms of the insurance policy and Florida law during the handling of your claim.
Contact an attorney at our office for a free consultation if you have any questions about your insurance claim or policy.
Do I Have A Case?
At Warner & Fitzmartin, we will meet with you in a 100% free and confidential consultation to discuss the facts of your case, coverage available under your insurance policy, and provide advice on the available options you may have. Every property insurance case is different and the amount of time it may take to resolve your case can depend on a variety of factors, such as the facts of your claim, your individual needs, the terms of your insurance policy and your insurance company.
While some clients come to Warner & Fitzmartin at the beginning of their insurance claim, others often seek our help after their insurance company has wrongfully denied their claim or failed to offer a proper or fair amount needed to restore our clients to their pre-loss condition.
Contact our office if you’re considering filing a claim, feel that you have received too low of a payment from your insurance company, or were told by your insurance company that your claim was denied.
Why You Need A Lawyer
In recent years, insurance companies have started painting false narratives while topics surrounding the property insurance industry in the State of Florida have flooded the news. You may have received letters or payment with estimates that contain policy language or technical terms. Some of this language may likely look foreign to our clients, but this is the complicated language used by your insurance company on a daily basis. Insurance companies often take the my way or the highway approach and attempt to convince you to settle your case with a release for less than what it is worth.
Insurance companies run a for profit business. They gladly accept thousands of your hard earned dollars in exchange to cover certain covered losses and events. Your insurance company may hire a handful of individuals during the adjustment of your claim, including field adjusters, contractors, engineers and attorneys.
The attorneys at Warner & Fitzmartin have litigated against the biggest insurance companies in Florida and have seen first hand the types of gamesmanship, delay, and fraudulent conduct that insurance companies frequently exhibit during the handling of a claim. We are a results oriented law firm and work solely for the insured policyholders to swiftly provide our clients the results that they need for their individual situation.
Why Choose Warner & Fitzmartin?
You have probably seen firms advertising on TV throughout Florida. Many of these firms delegate the majority of the work to non attorney staff. You may never speak to a lawyer, or you may speak to them once at the outset of your case to reel you in as a client and convince you to sign the contract. Sometimes, the firm has such high turnover that you have multiple attorneys or paralegals working on your case over a short period of time. You may also think you hired the law firm partner, only to find out an associate is working on your case. At Warner & Fitzmartin, PLLC, we pride ourselves on treating each client individually, rather than like a mill. Our clients are not merely a statistic. We will always put our clients first to maximize their recovery.