Understanding Pure Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

If you are in a car accident in St. Petersburg and suffer injuries that max out your personal injury protection coverage, your personal injury lawyer may help you to sue the at-fault party for punitive damages. Punitive damages provide extra compensation for victims whose injuries were caused by the extreme recklessness or negligence of the at-fault party.  This extra compensation can help cover your expenses.

Many drivers in St. Petersburg fight back against these claims, however. Not only do they not want to admit fault, but they also do not want to pay for their negligence. The higher the medical bills and other expenses, the more likely they are to fight back with a personal injury lawyer of their own.

In fact, during a case like this, the defendant may even turn the blame back on you and claim that you are responsible for the accident. With your personal injury lawyer, you can disprove this claim. If the evidence doesn’t disprove the claim, the court may find that neither driver is entirely to blame. Instead, they may determine you both acted in ways that contributed to the accident.

Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence

Should the court find that two drivers are partially to blame for an accident, Florida’s comparative negligence laws will come into play. This “pure comparative fault” system does not let your level of negligence prevent you from getting the compensation your injuries need. Instead, the fault charged to the claimant is proportionate to the amount awarded in damages. For example, if you are found to be 40% at fault for the crash, you can still recover 60% of your losses from the other party. In this example, if you initially requested $100,000, if you win your case, you will receive $60,000 because you were 40% at fault.

How Fault is Determined in a Personal Injury Case

To determine the percentage of fault for each responsible party, judges examine many different factors. Drivers may contribute to fault by:

  • Speeding
  • Driving recklessly
  • Driving under the influence
  • Texting and driving
  • Running red lights
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign
  • Not using turn signals

Prepare for a Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer at Berkowitz & Myer

The best way to prepare for a personal injury case is by working with a personal injury lawyer at Berkowitz & Myer. Our St. Petersburg firm has been helping clients recover compensation for their injuries for nearly twenty years. Our excellence and passion make us a strong opponent in the courtroom. To schedule a consultation in St. Petersburg, call us today at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online.

Do’s and Don’ts After a Personal Injury Accident

There are hundreds of vehicle accidents in Tampa Bay every day. In 2017, Pinellas County saw 17,966 total crashes with 11,111 injuries, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This means that many St. Petersburg residents are at the risk of being in a collision at some point. If you sustain an injury, call a personal injury attorney and keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.

Do: Document the Scene

After a collision, once the scene is safe, you have checked for injuries, and everyone has the necessary medical attention, call the St. Petersburg police to file a police report. You should then begin to document the scene thoroughly. Take pictures of the vehicles, the scene of the incident, the road conditions, debris, injuries, skid marks, and any property damage. Gather the contact information of anyone else involved as well as any witnesses. Record information like the location, the weather, and what you were doing before the incident. The more detail, the better. Take pictures with your phone, record video, and use a notepad to write things down like license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle make and model, and more. However you can, record the information and hold onto that data. Your personal injury attorney will be able to use it to help build your case.

Don’t: Post on Social Media

You may be tempted to post online that you were in a fender bender to alert friends and family, but use caution when it comes to posting about your accident. Once something is online, it can’t be erased completely. Avoid talking about anything related to the accident, including your car, your personal injury attorney, the other people involved, or your injury. Insurance companies may have investigators and claims adjusters looking at your social media to find evidence that can diminish the value of your claim.

Do: Call a Personal Injury Attorney

After an accident, call a personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as you can. The other party may ask you for in-depth information like how much insurance coverage you have, what your deductibles are, and more. Instead of providing them with this information, your lawyer can advise you to give them only the necessary information and the basic details of the accident. This goes for the insurance companies as well. In fact, before you talk to any insurance companies, talk to your lawyer. You do not have to speak with insurance companies if they contact you. Anything you say, even if it is to your own insurance company, can be used to lower the settlement you may eventually receive.

Call Berkowitz & Myer in St. Petersburg for Professional Legal Help

If you were in a car accident in St. Petersburg, call a personal injury attorney to discuss compensation for your injuries. You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To speak with a professional at Berkowitz & Myer, call us at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online.

What to Do If You Are Facing Creditor Harassment

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents debt collectors from harassing, oppressing, or abusing anyone they contact. Repetitive phone calls meant to annoy or abuse are considered harassment as well as the use of obscene or profane language as well as threatening violence. If you believe a debt collector is harassing you, call a creditor harassment attorney in St. Petersburg for help.

If the debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can report them. In some cases, you may be able to sue the debt collectors for violating the FDCPA. If you win your lawsuit, the collector may have to pay you damages. A creditor harassment attorney in St. Petersburg can help determine if you have a case for a lawsuit.

What is Illegal and What is Legal?

It is illegal for debt collectors to misrepresent themselves. Therefore, they cannot use deceptive, false, or misleading practices. If they misrepresent how much you owe, make false arrest threats, or present themselves as an attorney when they are not, these actions violate the FDCPA. If a debt collector communicates with you, keep a record of how they contact you and what they say.

If you are the victim of unfair debt collection practices, it is important to contact a creditor harassment attorney. You shouldn’t have to deal with multiple phone calls a day, obscene language, threats of violence, or never-ending harassment. By seeking legal assistance, you may be able to make it stop while also possible obtaining damages.

What to Do If a Debt Collector Contacts You

If you receive a call from a debt collector, remember to remain calm and collected. Many collectors work on commission and will attempt to intimidate you. Assume all calls are being recorded and avoid saying anything overly defensive.

As we mentioned previously, keep records showing how often collectors call you, what time, and what they say. For the most part, you will receive phone calls or postal mail, although some people in St. Petersburg receive emails or text messages. Keep documents, statements, and correspondence and bring them to your creditor harassment attorney. If a dispute goes to court, your lawyer can use this as evidence.

When speaking with a collector, ask for their name, the name of the company they work for, and a call back number. Take notes about what you discussed, or if they made any threats such as having you arrested, hurting your credit record, or garnishing your wages. These notes can be invaluable if you end up taking the debt collector to court.

Verify the Debt

During your conversation, you can also ask the collector to verify the debt. Within five days, they must provide the following information:

  • The amount of debt
  • The creditor

They should also notify you that you have thirty days to dispute the debt’s validity. If you do nothing, they will assume it is valid. If you dispute it within thirty days, they will send you identifying information verifying the debt. Once you ask for verification or dispute the debt, the collector must cease their collection activity until they send you the verification.

Work with a Creditor Harassment Attorney and Defend Your Rights

Ultimately, the best way to get the harassment to stop is to contact a creditor harassment attorney. If you do not know your rights as a consumer, then debt collectors may try to take advantage of you. For a professional team of lawyers in the St. Petersburg area, call Berkowitz & Myer at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online.

Bankruptcy: Important Things to Know About Chapters 7 and 13

Bankruptcy may be intimidating for those who are not familiar with the process. But with the help of a bankruptcy attorney in St. Petersburg, you can manage your debt and get back on the right foot. People who pursue bankruptcy often do so because filing can:

  • Protect your home from foreclosure
  • Stop debt collection attempts
  • Prevent utility companies from cutting off power and water
  • Give you more time to readjust your debts

Chapter 7 discharges your debt, but this does not include student loan debt. There are unique circumstances that exist for student loan debt, but largely, you are responsible for paying it off. If the debtor or their dependents are under undue hardship, they may be able to seek a discharge for their student loan debt.

Whether you file for chapter 7 or 13, you must fill out and complete all necessary forms. Everyone who files for bankruptcy must complete the necessary forms for the federal government, which may include:

  • Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy
  • Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information
  • Statement of Current Monthly Income
  • Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation
  • Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income

Florida Bankruptcy

In Florida, residents cannot use federal exemptions, and must instead use the state’s exemptions. Potential exemptions may include:

  • Homestead exemptions
  • Certain personal property up to $1,000
  • Up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity
  • Up to $4,000 in personal property if not using the homestead exemption
  • Certain pension and retirement funds like 401ks and Simple IRAs

Your St. Petersburg bankruptcy attorney can go over the various exemptions available and help you determine which ones are applicable to your situation.

What You Need to Know When Filing for Bankruptcy

When you file, you must submit a repayment plan detailing your debts like child support, vehicle loans, mortgages, and tax liens and how you plan to repay them. A bankruptcy attorney in St. Petersburg can help you devise a plan that allows you to comfortably pay your debts. Unsecured debts, like medical bills and credit cards, must be less than $336,900 and secured debt, like mortgages, must be less than $1,010,650.

Filing for bankruptcy will leave a lasting impact on your credit; it will stay on your record for ten years. This can influence your ability to loan a car, rent a home, get a credit card, and more.

To speak with a bankruptcy attorney in the St. Petersburg area, trust Berkowitz & Myer. Call us today at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online to schedule a no-cost consultation.

Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Personal Injury Attorney St. Petersburg Florida

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you’ve probably got a lot of questions on your mind, and a lot of people giving you advice—some helpful, some not so helpful. While it may not be at the forefront of your mind, deciding whether to hire an attorney—or which one—is an important decision that can seriously affect your rights and responsibilities. This article will examine the conditions in which you might want consider hiring a personal injury attorney, and how to choose the right one.

When to Hire an Attorney

If you only sustained minor injuries in your accident, you may not need to hire a personal injury attorney, since you can usually work out those kinds of issues with your insurance company. However, for more serious accidents, a personal injury attorney can help you go up against big auto insurance companies and their lawyers.

Your attorney should already know all applicable personal injury laws and procedural rules and can effectively handle all of the legwork for you. Because insurance companies and their lawyers have the knowledge to reduce compensation and even deny a claim altogether, hiring a personal injury attorney is a good idea for people who:

  • Suffered severe injuries
  • Are faced with expensive medical bills
  • Have experienced a significant loss of wages due to their injuries.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney

After you’ve decided that you likely need an attorney, the next decision you must make is which attorney to choose. Below are a few guidelines to make sure that you choose the correct attorney for your case.

Know Whom You’re Dealing With

A personal injury attorney should have experience representing clients who are in a similar situation as yours. Although you ideally want someone with many years of experience, newer attorneys can also competently represent their clients with the proper assistance of a more experienced attorney. Most law firms offer free consultations to prospective clients, so take that opportunity to find a lawyer you connect with on a personal level.

Do Your Research

Try to talk with more than one lawyer before you choose one to represent you. Be prepared to describe your problem in a brief, clear summary. Ask the various lawyers about their experience, their fees, what your options might be, your chances of success, who will do the work, and when the problem might be resolved.

Get the Details

How often will the lawyer update you? What information will you be required to provide? Do you understand all of your options? What will the total cost be? If you’re not clear about exactly what the lawyer is doing, ask for clarification. Although your chances of success can’t be guaranteed, make sure you’re comfortable with your lawyer’s approach to your case.

Establish a Payment Arrangement That Works for You

The most expensive attorney is not necessarily the best attorney for you, while a “bargain-priced” attorney may not be the best deal in the long run, either. You want to find an attorney with the proper balance of experience and cost. Also be sure that you understand how you will pay your attorney and what kind of fee arrangement to expect—most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee, though some may charge a flat fee or hourly rate.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

If you think you need an attorney to represent you after you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Berkowitz & Myer. Schedule your free consultation by calling (727) 344-0123 today to learn more.

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