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.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Car Accident Lawyer St. Petersburg Florida

Car accidents are extremely common in the United States, accounting for more than 37,000 deaths per year. Although most car accidents are not fatal, they still cause thousands of injuries every year. These injuries can range from minor bruises to broken bones and traumatic brain injuries, which can have lifelong health implications. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common injuries that motorists sustain in car accidents and how they are caused.

Head and Neck Injuries

The most common neck injury in car crashes is whiplash. Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue of the neck and upper back, and it occurs when the muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back are stretched due to sudden movements. This stretching is often caused by the sudden jerking of the head, which can occur when one vehicle strikes another.

Head injuries are caused by the same forces as whiplash. If the force of an impact in a collision is great enough, it can cause an occupant’s head to strike nearby objects, including the steering wheel, dashboard, console, or windows. In some cases, this can cause traumatic brain injuries, a very serious condition in which the brain tissue is damaged from hitting the inside of the skull. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to health problems, including nausea, fatigue, headaches, seizure, and cognitive or physical impairments.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Due to their exposure and relatively free movement, an occupant’s arms are at great risk of striking nearby objects or getting scraped or cut by projectiles. For example, the force of an impact in an accident often causes occupants’ knees to hit the dashboard or the seats in front of them. Glass, airbags, dash-mounted GPS systems, cell phones, coffee mugs, purses, or anything else that is not physically attached to the automobile can cause scrapes and cuts to the arms and legs in an automobile accident. Loose objects automatically become projectiles in a vehicle collision, and the severity of the injury depends on the type of object that strikes you.

Chest Injuries

The force of a collision can cause injuries when the chest strikes a nearby object. Chest injuries are particularly dangerous for the driver because of the steering wheel’s position. Blunt force trauma to the chest in a car accident can cause broken ribs, collapsed lungs, cardiac arrest, and damage to internal organs, the pelvis, and the abdomen.

Emotional Distress

Car accidents frequently cause emotional distress, which can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Young children especially can develop a fear or phobia of cars and driving after an accident, and suffer from nightmares and flashbacks. While the physical wounds from a car accident can often heal fairly quickly, emotional injuries are much more complicated and can take months or even years to dissipate.

Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney for Help

If you were injured in a car accident, you may recover compensation for your injuries through an insurance claim or a personal injury action. Contact the car accident lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer for a free consultation by calling (727) 344-0123 today.

The Importance of a Proper Brain Injury Diagnosis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 1.7 million individuals sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) each year in the United States. However, these are only the brain injuries that are diagnosed by medical professionals. There may be thousands more TBI victims who never receive a proper diagnosis because they never visit an emergency department, urgent care, or doctor’s office after their injury. Getting a timely brain injury diagnosis is vitally important to make sure you receive the treatment you need. Without a diagnosis, many complications can develop and the following is some information about why you should always seek medical attention if you suspect you may have any degree of a brain injury.

How Brain Injuries Occur

The first step to knowing when you should seek medical care is to recognize when an accident or incident happened that may result in a TBI. First, anytime you hit your head or are hit in the head by an object, there is the potential that your brain tissue has been damaged. In addition, you don’t actually have to suffer a direct blow to the head to sustain a brain injury. In some situations, the brain can shake inside the skull and become damaged simply because your head snaps sharply on your neck or if you are near an explosion.

Some examples of incidents that may cause a TBI include:

  • Hits in contact sports
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Assaults

If you were in any type of accident and your head was affected, you should be evaluated for a possible TBI.

Consequences of Delayed Diagnosis or No Diagnosis

All brain injuries – from concussions to severe TBIs – can have a variety of effects on your functioning. Depending on where the injury is located in the brain, it can hinder your cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or physical functioning. Many people who are not diagnosed may not have an explanation for their struggles with information processing, memory, balance, communication, emotional control, and other symptoms. This can be frustrating and can affect your work, school, and personal life.

More seriously, brain injury victims not treated and monitored can experience serious complications that if not identified and addressed, may be permanently disabling or deadly. Such complications can include:

  • Hemorrhaging
  • Excessive intracranial pressure
  • Second impact syndrome
  • Developing cognitive disorders after numerous concussions

Without a diagnosis, a person may not be aware of the risks they are taking when they continue to engage in activities that may result in subsequent brain injuries. They also may not have the proper monitoring to prevent treatable complications of their TBI.

Call Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

A proper medical diagnosis for any injury is also critical if you are able to seek compensation from a negligent party who caused your accident. At the law firm of Berkowitz & Myer, we advise clients in and around St. Petersburg regarding their legal rights after a personal injury and what they can do to protect those rights. If you have been injured, call today at 727-344-0123 for a free consultation.

Social Media is not your friend in a personal injury case

Ok so you’ve been injured due to no fault of your own.  You hire a lawyer and you begin the process of a personal injury case.  This is a traumatic experience.  What do we all do when we go through a traumatic experience?  We post about it on Facebook, or Instagram, or MySpace (showing my age here).  You know, so our friends can share in our misery.  Ok maybe that’s not why, but we post about it nonetheless.  People like to post just about everything they do.  As is it turns out, this is a very, very bad idea when you have a case pending.  In fact, almost any social media posts while going through an injury case are a bad idea, whether or not you are posting about the accident.  In this article, I will briefly explain why social media is not your friend, and I will provide a clear example where Facebook significantly lowered my client’s recovery. 

A personal injury case is a story.  Like any story that you tell, there is a beginning, middle, and an end.  There is a narrative that has to flow and make sense.  The insurance company will hire a lawyer whose job is to poke holes in your story, and try to show that your narrative does not “flow.”  Our job, as your lawyers, is to convince either the insurance company or the jury of our “version” of what has transpired, and maximize your recovery.    Let’s start with the example of “Ms. W.”  Before I begin, please know that not only does Ms. W know I am writing this, but she wanted me to use her story as a cautionary tale.  Ms. W, at the time of her accident, was a beautiful 21 year-old young woman who was rear-ended at a stoplight.  The damages to Ms. W’s car were extensive and the pictures from the accident scene painted a very nasty picture of what must have been an extremely traumatic experience.  From the accident scene, Ms. W. was transported to the hospital, via ambulance, where she was diagnosed with a low back injury.  After follow-up treatment with a local doctor and a lumbar MRI was performed, it was determined that Ms. W. had suffered two herniated discs in her lumbar spine as a result of the accident.  Ms. W. told me about her struggles with low back pain that affected almost every aspect of her daily routine.  According to my client, she was still able to work and do the things she needed to do throughout the day, but she was forced to do so with severe pain.  She knew that one day she would need lumbar surgery to fix the problem, but at her age she wanted to hold off as long as possible. 

This is a simple story to understand.  A girl gets in an accident, suffers permanent injuries, and lives in her life in pain.  This is as simple story to understand.  Well, it WAS a  simple story until Facebook got involved.  As Ms. W.’s lawyer, I strongly advised Ms. W. about the dangers of Facebook.  I explained, in detail, that she ran the risk of poking holes in her own narrative, and doing the insurance company lawyer’s job for him.  As you can guess by the tone of my article, she did not heed my warnings. Like any 21 year-old young woman, Ms. W. liked having fun with her friends.  She liked going to the beach, drinking in bars, dancing, etc…  Also, she like posting pictures of herself doing these things.  When it came time for mediation, the insurance defense lawyer didn’t focus on who was at fault in the accident.  That was established.  This case was purely about what Ms. W. had suffered.  Rather than make a long, verbose argument about Ms. W.’s injuries, the lawyer just showed a series of Facebook pictures.  There was one with Ms. W. drinking on a bar.  Not “in” a bar, mind you.  No, she was actually ON THE BAR with a beer in her hand and a big smile on her face.  Then there was the bikini contest Ms. W. had entered in Daytona Beach.  She placed third…

All of a sudden, the narrative didn’t flow.   I was trying to paint a picture of a young woman who lived every day with intense pain.  The photos painted a very different picture.  Judging by the photographic evidence, my client looked like someone who was clearly lying about her injuries.  A reasonable jury would look at those pictures and think, “huh, I wish I had a life like that!  We should all be so injured…”  This was no longer a sympathetic victim whose quality of life had been taken from her.  The reality of the situation is that those photographs might have just been a brief moment in time, where Ms. W. forced a smile in an otherwise pain-filled day.  That may have been the case, but it sure didn’t look that way from the Facebook pictures, and a picture paints a thousand words.  We had to mitigate our risks and settle for less than we had planned on leaving with when we walked in to mediation that day.    

Most states have specific rules regulating what an attorney can advise his or her client regarding social media.  In a case in Virginia, a court fined not only a plaintiff, but her lawyer as well, for deleting Facebook pictures and deleting her Facebook account.  In that case the court found that the lawyer and client were guilty of “spoliation of evidence.”  Florida personal injury lawyers are strongly warned by the Florida Bar about not advising clients to delete social media accounts or pictures.  If you find yourself  injured in an accident and you pursue a personal injury case, there are two bits of advice that will significantly help you.  First, STAY OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA.  Second, contact the lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer.  We will help you navigate through the dangers of Social Media, and any other insurance company tricks to hurt your case.  We are ready to help you today! 

What Causes Rollover Accidents?

While any type of car crash can be serious or even deadly, crashes in which a vehicle rolls over can be particularly dangerous. Some vehicles may roll over more easily than others due to a high center of gravity. However, in order to know your legal rights as a rollover accident victim, you must examine what caused the vehicle to roll over in the first place. The following are some common causes of rollover crashes.

Driver Error

Many rollovers happen because a driver makes a negligent error. Distracted driving, aggressive driving, speeding, dangerous passing, and more can all lead a driver to turn the wheel sharply, which can often lead to a rollover crash. In addition, hitting another vehicle or a curb can trip a car and cause it to roll. Negligent drivers should be held liable for all of the losses caused by your accident.

Road Hazards

Hazards or dangerous road conditions also commonly cause vehicles to roll over. If a driver suddenly hits a pothole or has to jerk the wheel to avoid a hazard, they can lose control of their vehicle and it can roll over. In this situation, the entity that is responsible for inspecting and maintaining that roadway should be held liable if it negligently allowed the hazard to exist.

Vehicle Defects

Another factor that can lead to a rollover is a malfunction of a defective vehicle part. If a defective tire suddenly blows out or brakes suddenly fail, a vehicle can be tripped and can rollover. In this case, the manufacturer that sold the defective part should be held liable.

Determining what caused your rollover is essential to exercising your legal right to seek compensation for your losses in a personal injury case. A lawyer who understands this type of case will have the resources to help you hold the correct party responsible.

Consult with Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys as Soon as Possible

If you have been in a rollover accident or any other type of crash, the St. Petersburg, FL auto accident lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer in St. Petersburg are here to help you. Call today at 727-344-0123 for a free consultation.

no-cost consultation: (727) 344-0123