For your convenience, common client questions are answered here.
These are short answers to frequently asked questions, however the answers to do not contemplate every scenario and are meant as a guide and reference only.
What is a Claimant?
A claimant is an individual or business who is making a claim against you or your business for damages. These claims are usually for bodily injury, property damages, or other damages arising out of an accident, but could arise from a contractual dispute. The claimant will make a claim and demand against your insurance carrier or yourself prior to filing a law suite.
What is a Plaintiff?
A Plaintiff is the title referred to by someone who is bringing a law suite against an individual or company. A Plaintiff may also be referred to as a claimant.
What is a Tortfeasor?
A Tortfeasor is an individual or business who is alleged by a Claimant or Plaintiff to have committed a tort against them. A tort is usually negligence, which is the basis for a claim for bodily injury or property damage in a accidents such as a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or aviation accident. A tortfeasor may be liable even if only passively negligent such as owner of a vehicle driven by another individual or employer of an employee. Negligence is the failure to act as prudent reasonable person in like circumstances.
What is a Defendant?
The Defendant is the person or business being sued by a Plaintiff.
The complaint says seeking damages less than $30,000 but more than $15,000.
The Plaintiff is merely stating that they are seeking damages in excess of $15,000. This is a jurisdictional allegation which causes the case to be heard by the Circuit Court. Florida does not require the Plaintiff to allege the actual amount of damages they are seeking.
The complaint says seeking damages less than $15,000 but more than $8,000.
The Plaintiff is alleging the damages sought are within the County Court jurisdiction. However, this does not mean that damages cannot exceed $15,000.
The complaint says seeking damages less than $8,000.
The plaintiff is alleging the damages sought are less than $8,000 and invoking the jurisdiction of Small Claim Court.
What is Statute of Limitations?
The Statue of Limitations is the time limit within a claimant/plaintiff must file a lawsuit or be forever forbidden from making such a claim. Statue of Limitations are different for different claims.
What is a Proposal for Settlement?
A Proposal for Settlement (PFS) is a mechanism through Florida Statue and Rules of Civil Procedure where the Plaintiff can make a proposal for settlement that is deemed rejected if not accepted in writing within 30 days. A rejectect proposal for settlement allows the party making the PFS to collect attorney fees and costs from the date of service if the ultimate judgment is better than 25% of the PFS?
What are Interrogatories?
Interrogatories is a discovery mechanism where the opposing party (Plaintiff or Defendant) can have you answer questions under oath.
What is a Request to Produce/Request for Production?
Request to Produce is a discovery mechanism where the opposing party (Plaintiff or Defendant) can force you to provide copies or make available for inspection evidence or documents in your possession that may reasonably lead to admissible evidence.
What are Request for Admissions?
Request for Admissions is a discovery mechanism where the opposing party (Plaintiff or Defendant) can force you to admit or deny certain factual issues regarding the claim. Admissions are deemed fact. If a fact is denied, the court could potentially award attorney fees for the proving of a fact that was denied in a response to a request for admissions.
What is Jury Selection/Voir Dire?
Jury selection is the process of selecting a jury. (Voir Dire means to speak the truth). During the process, the attorneys for each side are allowed to ask the jury as a panel and individually questions. This process can take a few hours to several days and is the only time the attorneys get to speak to the jurors. The jury selection is really a de-selection as each side is allowed to remove a juror for cause (if there is cause) and usually 3 preemptive strikes (no reason needed). Once this is done, the first 6 jurors left make the jury with the next 1-2 available as alternates.
What is a CME (Compulsory Medical Examination)
A compulsory Medical Examination is a mechanism where the Defendant can force the Plaintiff to present for an examination by a doctor of the Defendant’s choice. This doctor will also perform a detailed medical record review and opine as the injuries of Plaintiff and causation of injury.
What is a deposition?
A deposition is a discovery mechanism where the attorney for one of the parties will question either the Defendant, Plaintiff, or witness regarding the case and claims. The other parties’ attorney(s) will get to ask follow up questions of the deponent. A court reporter swears in the witnesses and transcribes everything that is said. Depositions may be used at trial by publication or for impeachment of the witness/party.
Why are some depositions videotaped?
A videotaped deposition is a deposition that is videotaped. This may be done to memorialize the body language, to use as impeachment of a party/witness at trial, or to play at trial. Many witness, such as doctors, experts, and witness out of state or greater than 100 miles away will be taken by video tape to play at trial instead of live testimony.
What is No Fault Insurance?
Florida’s no fault automobile insurance laws limit the liability, or legal responsibility, of the person who’s negligence caused the accident and injuries to other people. Under our no fault laws, if you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else, you cannot recover certain money damages (pain and suffering) from the person at fault unless you can prove your injuries meet certain thresholds (over $10,000 in medical bills and permanent injury). The No Fault Insurance provides you with $10,000 in total coverage for medical and lost wages. The $10,000 is set off from any judgment obtained by a Plaintiff.
What is PIP (Personal Injury Protection)?
Florida has a unique law requiring each owner of a vehicle registered in the state of Florida to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. (exception is mopeds under 50 cc) The purpose of the PIP under the Florida No-Fault Law is to provide for medical, surgical, funeral, and disability insurance benefits without regard to fault. That means that your OWN insurance company will pay a portion of your medical treatment and lost wages whether you caused the accident or somebody else. PIP benefits will pay 80% of your medical bills for medically necessary treatment and/or 60% lost wages up to $10,000.00 in coverage. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and intend for PIP to cover your medical bills, it is important to get treatment right away. Initial treatment must be rendered within 14 days of the motor vehicle accident. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and do not own a vehicle or do not have the required PIP benefits, you may be entitled to PIP benefits under somebody else’s policy. Florida law allows for you to receive PIP benefits if a relative in your home has PIP, you are operating a vehicle in which the owner has PIP, you are a passenger in a vehicle in which the owner has PIP, or you are a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle under certain circumstances. If a claim is made against you, your are entitled to a set off for the $10,000 in PIP coverage paid or payable to the claimant.
What is MedPay?
Med Pay is insurance coverage provided by your insurance policy or someone else insurance that provides medical coverage to the applicable limits for medical bills regardless of fault for the accident. Most auto insurance, aviation insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, and boat insurance provide MedPay coverage, however the coverage limits are usually only around $5,000 but can be more. Unlike PIP coverage, the insurer has a subrogation right agains the tortfeasor or lien against the claim of a claimant or Plaintiff.