How To Choose An Injury Lawyer: Handoff Lawyers, Puppy Lawyers, And Advertisements

A week rarely goes by when we don’t meet with someone who first went to an attorney they saw on TV, heard on the radio, or saw on a number of large billboards. They tell us they never saw the person on the advertisement but were handed off to some very young puppy lawyer. They express deep disappointment with the failure of the advertisements to meet their expectations. When they speak to someone our office has helped, we welcome the opportunity of personally helping them.

For example, some advertisements are by large law firms who recently moved to our area. They plaster the roadways with billboards. Recent movers to our area are here solely to expand their business. Many are quick to advertise with catchy phrases and dramatic advertisements. Yet they are never involved in handling the case and never know the client. They hand them off to “puppy lawyers” to settle your case as soon as possible, in order to pay for the billboards.  

In some cases, the lawyer on the billboard will be at the first meeting, but the client will never see nor hear from that lawyer again.

Some advertisements are by lawyers who claim to sue drunk drivers. Potential clients soon learn this is just a sales gimmick. 

When asked about Dan, potential clients learn that he is the only attorney in Northwest Florida who established the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) Chapter from his office in 1992. Up until that point, there was no MADD chapter between Jacksonville, Florida and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

Dan incorporated and organized this Chapter in part to help his clients, parents who lost their only son to a drunk driver, help others. This MADD chapter has continued and expanded to cover many counties in Northwest Florida and is still active today.

Dan has lived locally for over sixty years and practiced law here for thirty-five years.  He works hands-on with every person and family his team represents.

When To First Contact An Attorney After A Crash Or Injury

I pose the question to you: When should you first contact an attorney after you or a member of your family has been involved in a crash or injury?  Of course, as soon as possible following a crash or injury.  We have teams of investigators who are familiar with, and work with, our system.  They are skilled at providing expert documentation of a crash or injury scene. Their skills include photographing, videotaping, and digital mapping. If we do not recover anything for you, you owe us nothing for this service.

What To Do About Lost Wages

Lost wages are devastating. In a car crash, Florida provides for your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits to pay up to sixty percent of lost wages up to your policy limit. Often that policy limit is only $10,000. Out of that ten thousand dollars, medical bills are being paid. Just how long does it take to burn through the ten thousand dollars in PIP? Often it is exhausted by the time the emergency room and ambulance bills are submitted.

What To Do If Contacted By The Insurance Company Of The Person Who Caused Harm To You

Everyone has seen the insurance company vehicles all over our local streets and highways. It is not unusual for the insurance company of the person who harmed you to be at your home before you arrive from the emergency room. Their purpose includes getting you to admit to some fault in the crash, or to offer you a nominal sum to settle all your claims.  

All too often, Dan has been asked to review a document from the insurance company that the injured party received the day of or the day after the crash. That short, simple document is a very small check to them from the insurance company and a release of all claims against the person who injured them. That you were not in the right state of mind following the crash or were not aware of the full extent of your injuries is usually not a defense. Now they want to hire our team to recover the full extent of their harms and losses.   Unfortunately, this is often made impossible by their acceptance of the very small sum of money and the signing of the release.  

Beware, Beware, Beware!!!  

Always kindly tell the representatives of the insurance company who contact you that you need to know the full extent of your harms and losses before discussing those with them. You understand this may take months and maybe over a year. In these kinds of situations, what is best is to know the rest. This requires you to “look before you leap.” This requires you to remember: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”    

After they contact you, immediately call our office so we can help you through this process. Our defense program requires them to cease and desist all communication with you and communicate with our office only. If they do not do this, we have a prompt response which can include sanctions against them.   

This is extremely important. Do not think this will cause the insurance companies to the disrespect you. Over the years, Dan has represented many injured family members of insurance agents, officers, and board of directors of every insurance company in Florida-even while we continue to sue their employers in other cases.   

What To Do To Follow Up After First Medical Treatment

 If you are admitted to the hospital, make sure that you have someone with you at all times. All times means twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Generally, patients admitted through the emergency room are assigned to a doctor known as a hospitalist.  You will likely have no choice in that doctor, nor a choice in who performs all diagnostic exams and surgery on you.

It is important to document the names and positions of all who care for you.  This often requires the help of others.

An emergent admission does not guarantee that all who treat you will communicate with each other. Nor does it guarantee that the nurses treating you will read the doctor’s orders and notes about you.  This is an unfortunate lesson Dan has learned in representing injured people in many medical malpractice cases.

Health care providers have harmed people due to the lack of communication for persons admitted as a result of emergencies.  

If you are admitted to the hospital, make sure that the persons who stay with you document your harms and losses. Use all photographic means available. Make sure your evidence is backed up, in case the documenting device is lost.

A diary should be kept of your stay to relay the harms and losses suffered while in the hospital. This can be in handwriting or kept on any digital device. It should also be backed up as soon as possible.

Oftentimes it is difficult to find a health care provider who will treat you after a crash or injury. Many family doctors shy away from this.  Either they are not comfortable with who to bill or what they are paid. Others just do not want to be involved in answering opinions about your injuries from your crash.

Your family doctor may not have anyone who they will refer you to. If this happens, do not be discouraged. 

Our legal team has developed a list of trained and skilled physicians, based on over thirty-five years of experience, who can help you recover from the harms and losses of your injuries.  Our team has established a working relationship with the folks who help coordinate billing and are practiced in the nuances of who to bill—even if they have to bill more than one insurance company.

Sometimes those offices will require you to sign a lien on your recovery. This helps make sure they are paid in the event insurance limits are not adequate to cover all the expenses.  We work to protect your credit from those bills.

 It is vital to our representation of you that we know your complete medical history.  It is equally important that we follow all of your care from your accident very closely.    

Please remember that this is a very complicated process.  

Some health care providers, and even some provisions of your automobile insurance, require you to pay them back before you are entitled to any recovery from the person who injured you. Our team continually monitors these requests, stays abreast of the complexity of the law as much as possible, and successfully resolves these issues routinely. 

This is an extremely complex and quirky area of the law that changes constantly. This requires constant diligence to protect you and your family. One of the staff members at Dan’s office has the title of “Lien Queen.” She enjoys the challenges of this very difficult and tedious work. 

What To Do At First Medical Treatment After Crash Or Injury

The first medical treatment is usually provided by the fire department or ambulance at the scene of the crash. Please remember that their immediate job is to triage. Triage includes preventing the loss of life or serious injury by immediate preventative measures. 

A few examples would be to stop an artery from bleeding out, or to stabilize the neck to prevent from being paralyzed. If there is any possibility of this, no matter how remote, you should not take any chances by assuming “the best”. In this situation, until it has been completely ruled out by all the necessary health care providers, assume the worst.

Again, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This applies to everyone at the scene of the crash with any possibility of serious injury or death.  

Medical treatment in the emergency room should follow this same safety rule. You should tell the health care professionals every scratch, harm, bruise, or pain location you have, so it can be documented.  

Current Florida Law requires a determination of an emergency medical condition before some of your Florida vehicle coverages will apply. Thorough documentation will help with that determination by your insurance company, and others, if required. This will also help with future medical care and the determination of injuries caused by the crash. 

A rule of medical documentation used in many medical malpractice cases applies here: If it is not written down, it did not happen. 

You should also read your discharge instructions from the emergency room carefully and follow them. Keep in mind that emergency room physicians often see their job as just to triage your situation as the ambulance providers noted above.  

Do not assume that the emergency room physician has made a complete and exhaustive review of all of your symptoms. You should immediately follow up with your family physician who knows you best. 

Due to adrenaline or the nature of the harm from a crash or injury, the full extent of the pain does not make itself known until days, weeks, or months following the incident. It is important during this time to be examined by a health care provider, so they can document and keep a close eye on how you are doing. This helps your doctor direct you to immediate care and treatment and in proving causation of harm from a crash. 

 This should not be ignored by assuming this would not happen to you.   The failure to do this has resulted in countless difficulties in proving caused harm that could have otherwise been easily prevented. So do not hesitate in seeking care and treatment and evaluation, even if the harm is not immediate from the crash or injury. Trained and skilled physicians know the importance of letting them make these care decisions and not those of us who lack their knowledge.  

During this time, you should also be keeping a journal of your daily pains and losses. Also photograph any scratches and bruises, no matter how minor.  It is helpful to have a family member assist you if injuries prevent you from doing this. If you have any difficulties or limitations in anything you were doing before the crash or injury, now is the time to document those in a diary, video, or photographs.  

If you have to pay anyone for their assistance during this time, make sure to keep records of the name, address, phone number of the person providing help. Keep receipts of payments for their help. 

You should contact all insurance companies who may be responsible for paying your bills. This includes your automobile insurance, health insurance, workers compensation insurance, Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, and any others. Each of them will have forms for you to fill out. They prefer that you contact them as soon as possible. Insurance companies may request that it be by mail, phone, or email.  

In some cases, multiple companies may share responsibility in paying your medical bills. Please remember that most will have the right to be paid back out of any recovery against the person causing the harm.  You will need to keep all communication from those responsible for paying your medical bills addressing their right of recovery. You need to bring these letters with you when you see us at your first visit.

You should also keep a record of all mileage to and from all treatment. 

Who To Speak To At The Scene Of A Crash

If you are able to communicate and move around after a vehicle crash, without causing more harm to yourself or others, there are several people you must speak with. The Florida Highway Patrol will want to know basic information about yourself, the vehicle you were driving, and how the crash occurred.

What To Do First At The Scene Of Your Crash Or Injury

Do not submit to any recorded statements with an insurance company, until you have spoken to an attorney.

In over thirty-five years, Dan has never had anyone tell him they planned on being injured. Injuries range from those that are minor to those that change lives forever. Whatever the nature of the injury, there are ways to protect your rights at the scene. This may be important in proving who was at fault and how injuries were caused.  

Immediately after a crash or injury, always take the time needed to check yourself for injuries. This includes cuts, bleeding, pain, and the ability to comprehend what is going on around you. This should take just a few moments. Next, check on others in the vehicle with you for cuts, bleeding, pain, and the ability to comprehend what is going on around them. Do what you can to stop any bleeding.  

If you have a cell phone with you, call 911 and report the crash or injury.  They will ask if help is needed in extracting persons involved in the crash.  This is important in determining the proper response team to dispatch to the scene.  

Remember, all fire departments are not equipped with devices, like The Jaws of Life. If you are not certain that all persons involved in the crash are able to exit the vehicle, please let 911 know. The quicker all persons can be removed from the vehicle, the quicker they can receive proper medical care. 

If your vehicle is equipped with OnStar or a similar service, you may receive an automatic call. Please communicate with them and answer all questions they ask in order for them to coordinate the help needed.  

If you are in an accident and need to roll down a window to exit the vehicle for everyone’s protection, your key may need to be turned on.  Exercise caution and make sure the chance of an explosion at the scene is not present.

If there is a fire in the vehicle or at the location of the crash that can cause harm to you or others, this is an extremely dangerous situation. All efforts should be made to avoid exposure to fire by you and others at the scene as soon as possible.  

You will need to weigh the risk of others at the scene by moving them, with the risk of injury or death from fire or explosion. This is not always easy to do and you will have to exercise your best judgment. If others at the scene are able to communicate with you, ask for their help in assessing the danger and potential harm.  

If there is a downed power line, whether or not it is raining, this can be a potential source of danger. There are specific methods to be used in exiting a vehicle safely in this situation. One misstep can cause serious injury or loss of life. 

 If you are unable to wait for assistance due to the emergent conditions, call 911. Give the dispatcher specific details about the scene of the crash and all surrounding circumstances. Request help in the precise steps you need to take to remove yourself and others from this dangerous situation. Keep 911 on the phone with you all times and stay in constant communication until you have removed yourself and others from the area. If you are unable to remove everyone from the area of the danger, continue to remind and control everyone at the scene to avoid the danger until removed. If the crash or injury occurs during severe weather that poses a danger, you will need to exercise care in making choices as to exit the vehicle or not.  If you can contact 911, please advise them of the situation and request their help.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home injuries are another Florida Legislature favorite target in limiting the rights of injured nursing home residents. There are many statutory requirements that must be followed before being allowed to bring any nursing home claim.

Workers Compensation

To say that workers compensation, law, time limits, evidence, burden of proof, requirements to make a claim, procedure to follow, treatment requirements, and management are a minefield, is an understatement.   The Florida Legislature controlled by insurance companies has limited benefits available to injured workers over a dozen times since Dan has been representing workers compensation claimants.

This is one area of law that Dan has limited his practice. He limited this primarily due to the amount of clients he is helping in the other areas of his practice.       

Because of Dan’s unique experience, he routinely talks to people who are injured at work, helps them navigate the process, obtain an attorney if needed, and represents them in a claim against any “third party” who injured them.    

There are many specific requirements in relationships between workers compensation and civil claims.  This includes reimbursement and settlement provisions of Florida Statutes. Dan is able to use his unique background and experience to help navigate and bring to a conclusion both the civil and workers compensation claim. Workers Compensation Insurance Companies and defense attorneys know that Dan does not “walk away” from helping people injured at work.   After obtaining 100 percent of the workers compensation benefits available under the law for people injured at work, Dan has continued to help many navigate the system for over twenty years before the claim is settled and continued to protect his clients despite being paid nothing until their claim settled.


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