Personal Injury

Personal Injury can refer to any injury sustained by a person’s physical body or their mental health and emotions. Personal injury law attorneys are consulted when that injury has been caused by another party either by negligence or intentionally. Personal injury is a type of tort or civil wrong where harm has been caused to one party because another party’s failure to use reasonable care.

Personal Injury covers a very broad spectrum of incidents and personal injury firms see a wide range of different types of cases. The most common type of personal injury compensations claims often involve auto accidents, medical malpractice, work accidents, on-the-job injuries, nursing home neglect or misconduct, defective products, toxic exposure, vehicle defects, and wrongful death to name just a few.

Damages sought by the plaintiff in a personal injury case commonly include seeking the recovery of medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, emotional distress, pain and suffering as well as legal and attorney fees. Damages awarded may involve expected future losses in addition to actual present losses.

Liability is a critical factor in personal injury law. Liability is assessed based upon several factors, including who caused the injury in question and if it was the result of that party showing a lack of reasonable care. Both negligence and recklessness are common liability factors in a personal injury case.

Not all personal injury cases are heard in a court. A good personal injury attorney will often seek to help you settle your case out of court to resolve your issue in a more timely and less costly manner. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the case continues on to civil court.

We have over 20 years experience helping our friends and neighbors in the Bay Area through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We would like to help you too. If you are unsure whether your situation qualifies as a personal injury, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability (SSD) are benefits available to those people who have worked at least five of the past 10 years and are now unable to work because of some disability. The first question is whether the individual has earned enough quarters to become eligible for SSD. The rules are somewhat complex, but usually we at Freeman & Freeman can ask the right questions and obtain the information to determine if you have earned enough credits to be eligible for SSD. Sometimes, we have you apply for SSD to determine if you are eligible. The amount you are paid if you are disabled is dependent on what you have paid in. Everyone gets paid a different amount. Sometimes the benefit is low enough where an individual receives both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and SSD. Sometimes the benefit is high it also pays for any children under 18. If you have children 16 or under, it can also pay for the spouse. Along with SSD comes Medicare. Unfortunately, SSD does not pay from the month you become disabled. Rather, it begins to pay after you have been disabled five full months. You are not eligible for Medicare until 29 months have passed from the month you became disabled. These rules can be somewhat complex and we at Freeman & Freeman can explain how they will apply to you.

In order to be eligible for SSD, you have to be disabled. The rules for being disabled are somewhat complex and are discussed throughout this website. The rules are essentially the following. You have to either not be working at all or if you are working, making under approximately $1000 gross income per month. You must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to work. Depending on your age, you may have to prove that you are unable to work full-time or unable to work at all. If you are 50 or over, you may only have to prove you are unable to do the kind of work you have done in the past 15 years. The Social Security Administration looks at your education, your work history and your age in determining whether you are disabled.

As mentioned above, both physical and mental disabilities can qualify you. Mental disabilities can include bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, panic disorder, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and other mental illnesses. You do not have to be “crazy” as it were. You simply have to have a mental illness that affects your ability to get along with other people, concentrate, and or remember how to do things. The kinds of physical disabilities that can qualify you for disability are limitless. Typically they are pain in the back, pain in the neck, pain in the legs, diabetic neuropathy, migraines, seizures, heart disease, and breathing problems such as COPD and emphysema. It can include such illnesses as AIDS and HIV.

As discussed elsewhere, in order to apply for SSD, it is best to go online at the website known as www.ssa.gov and follow the links to disability. We at Freeman & Freeman are more than happy to help you apply for SSD. There is both an application which asks for personal information and then a report which gives the Social Security Administration information about your education, work history and medical treatment. Typically, we also advise you apply for SSI, which must be done by phone or in person. You can apply for that by calling 1-800-772-1213 and setting up either a phone appointment or face-to-face appointment to complete the application. We recommend that you do that after you have applied for the SSD. If you wish to apply for SSD without our assistance, it can be done by phone if you do not have Internet access. You can obtain Internet access typically at the public library. Because of time constraints, typically we are not able to assist with the SSI application unless a claimant is either illiterate or has difficulty is in functioning on a day-to-day basis because of low intelligence.

Car Accident Injury

Car accident and injury lawyers assist persons who have been injured in an automobile accident. This is a specialized sub-area of Personal Injury law.

One of the most critical elements in an auto accident related personal injury case is who is at fault for the accident in question. If one party is found to be entirely at fault or guilty of negligent or reckless behavior leading to the accident, then that party is typically liable for damages caused to other parties involved in the accident. If liability is not clear or if there is a finding of shared responsibility for the accident, then fault may be apportioned between the different parties involved. How the fault is apportioned is governed by state law.

There are four systems used in the US for determining damages in proportion to fault:

  •  Pure contributory negligence
  •  Pure comparative negligence
  •  Proportional comparative negligence at 50%
  •  Proportional comparative negligence at 51%

The last two derive from a similar model to the second and together they represent the laws adopted by the greater portion of states in the US (including Florida). Pure or proportional comparative negligence models allow an injured party who may be partially at fault for an accident to still recover some damages for his or her injuries.

A few states still adhere to an alternative known model referred to as pure contributory negligence. Pure contributory negligence prohibits an injured party from collecting any damages from an accident in which they are found to have been at all responsible or contributory.

At present, Florida falls into the pure comparative negligence bracket along with 12 other states. Under this system a judge or jury assigns a certain fault percentage to each responsible party and awarded damage are portioned out accordingly. An injured person may recover his or her damages even if that person was 99% at fault in causing the injury, but their damages will be proportionally reduced by the percentage of fault that has been assigned to him or her.

Of course, there is a lot more that goes into an accident case than just what system of law is used for awarding damages. If you are looking for a car accident attorney in St. Pete, Sarasota, Clearwater or anywhere else in the Tampa Bay area, get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation. We can give you more information and discuss your specific case.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death is an area of law that deals with seeking monetary damages on behalf of the survivors of someone who has died as a result of wrongful or improper conduct of another person or corporation. Wrongful death is an area of Tort Law and the individual statutes which govern it’s application vary from state to state. In some states, wrongful death suits are decided entirely by juries. In Florida, legislature has laid forth specific guidelines regarding who is eligible for compensation in the event of a wrongful death. These are covered by the Florida Wrongful Death Act. This act provides specific guidelines concerning who may file a wrongful death suit in the state of Florida.

In general, parties considered able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit include family members and next of kin, with certain exceptions. In the absence of a legal exception, the surviving beneficiaries may sue any person or corporation who caused the injuries that led to death.

If someone dies under a doctor’s care and the doctor is found to be at fault, that is grounds for a wrongful death suit. If a company’s negligent safety standards results in an employee’s exposure to toxic materials which result in their death, that is grounds for a wrongful death suit. There are many, many other examples.

In some cases, wrongful death may be both a criminal and civil matter. If a criminal court finds someone guilty of killing another party, then civil action may be taken afterwards. However, criminal proceedings are not necessary for there to be a basis for a civil case. The plaintiff in a civil wrongful death suit only needs to prove their case by a “preponderance” of evidence. Civil court is not governed by the same “beyond a reasonable doubt” laws which preside over criminal proceedings.

When faced with the loss of a loved one, instigating legal procedures can be one of the last things you want to deal with. However, wrongful death lawsuit money can be not only a helpful, but often a very necessary supplement to survivors struggling to deal with the often very real and tangible effects of their bereavement. A good wrongful death attorney can help walk you through the process from beginning to end and ease some of the burden during a trying time.

We have over 20 years experience practicing wrongful death law in St. Pete, Tampa, Clearwater and the surrounding areas. If you have lost someone due to the negligence or misconduct of a third party, contact us for a free consultation to find out how we can put our experience to work to help you.

Veterans Service Connected Disability

Veterans service-connected disability consists of representation of veterans who are trying to establish or increase a service-connected injury or illness. The illness or injury may have either been aggravated in the service, or were first treated in the service. This representation also includes non-service-connected pensions, which are for veterans who served during what is defined as war time.

Most claims are service-connected claims. Typically, you may have been injured or treated for an illness during service. Sometimes the injury is as a result of a specific accident. Sometimes, they are as a result of repeated exposure. Examples of repeated exposure might be exposure to artillery, mechanics working on their knees, paratroopers making repeated jumps and the like. We try to prove up the injury or illness through service medical records, statements of other servicemen and even statements of relatives and friends. You may have treated for the illness or injury with private doctors after discharge, and we will try to get those records.

The VA system is very slow. Initial claims can take well over one year. Appeals can take even longer. It can also be very difficult to track the progress of a case. The phone bank at the VA is dysfunctional, and the online access it very limited. This is very unfortunate, and may be due to the huge claim backlog and limited funds to process these claims.

You can have several claims and appeals doing on at the same time. For example, you be determined to have a service-connected injury or illness, but disagree with the rating given. In that instance, you may start receiving benefits, but appeal the rating decision.

We stand ready to meet with you, evaluate your claim and proceed to make your claim, including all appeals.