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Martinedale Hubbell

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FAQs

General Questions

Will I owe anything if we don’t win the case?
If we fail to litigate your case successfully, no money will come out of your pocket. You are only responsible for costs incurred if we win.

How much can I expect the litigation to cost?
Costs of a single case can run anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000, but don’t expect to pay anything unless we recover money for you. The Pansler Law Firm will cover the costs of litigation, and you won’t be billed unless a settlement is collected.

How does The Pansler Law Firm make money off a case?
Legal fees are based on a percentage rate of the total amount of money we are able to recover on your behalf. However, the majority of the time we are able to get the insurance company to compensate us for our services provided as well as pay what is owed to you. If the court ordered fee is equal to or greater than the contingency fee, you receive 100 percent of the benefits with no deductions in legal fees.

What is a mediation?
A mediation is a settlement meeting that occurs before a case goes to trial. Both sides appear with legal representation before a mediator, who is usually a retired judge or lawyer, and the mediator listens to each party’s story. If neither side agrees on a settlement during the mediation conference, the case goes to trial. Anything discussed during mediation cannot be used in a court of law.

How long can you estimate my case will last?
This really depends on how intricate the case is that we are dealing with. For example, the norm for a medical malpractice case is between one and two years from the day the complaint is first filed. On the other hand, premises liability/auto or general negligence cases will reach resolution in four to eight months, depending on your ability to reach maximum medical improvement.


Personal Injury

How much is my personal injury case worth?

This is one of the harder questions for a plaintiff’s attorney to answer. A case’s worth is based on five areas assuming that the liability issue is straightforward. Those areas include:

  • Past Medical Bills
  • Future Medical Bills
  • Past Lost Wages
  • Loss of Earning Capacity in the Future
  • Pain and Suffering

There is no blueprint for determining a case’s value; it is really based on evidence such as whether there are discrepancies in the testimony, medical records, or other pieces that may detract from the integrity of the injured party’s case. However, based on our experience with past cases in Florida, we can estimate the value of the case once the attorney has gathered all medical records and statements and has an idea if the client’s physical and mental state has improved or worsened from the date of injury.

Why are we using my insurance provider if the accident was not my fault?

Even if a client is involved in an accident that was caused by another person, we can still file a claim for personal injury protection benefits, or PIP. This is what is known as "no-fault" insurance, and by law, it requires the insurance company to pay 80 percent of a person’s medical bills and 60 percent of their lost wages up to $10,000 regardless if they are to blame.

A situation like this can also arise if the person responsible for the accident is uninsured or underinsured. Then, as long as you’ve paid your insurance premium for this particular coverage, you will have no trouble making a claim. It wouldn’t make sense to pay extra for coverage like this if it was not there for you when you need it most.

How much time will be devoted to my case?

This really depends on the intricacy of the case. For example, we absolutely want to avoid resolving a case while the client is still recovering or does not have a handle on the future of their medical condition. It is every attorney’s fear to allow a client to sign a release and discover shortly after that they require more surgery or that the medical bills are still piling up. With that in mind, the average premises liability/auto or general negligence cases will reach resolution in four to eight months. That timeline is bound to fluctuate depending on the characteristics of each case.

What is a letter of protection used for?

Oftentimes, people are lacking insurance coverage, or their PIP benefits have been depleted. When this happens, medical facilities and doctors will sometimes accept a "letter of protection," which is a document allowing the patient to continue treatment without having to pay for it until a later date. Normally, there is no reimbursement made until the patient reaches a full recovery. It is essential that the client understand that if the case is not resolved in their favor, a letter of protection on file does not warrant them exemption from paying off their medical bills.

Why am I not being compensated when I have full insurance coverage?

This is one of the most difficult questions our lawyers face on a daily basis. In most cases, insurance agents will provide a potential consumer with a quote for the type of coverage they request. Receiving full coverage in regards to an auto negligence case would allow for injury recovery, PIP or no-fault, payment for medical services, and underinsured or uninsured driver coverage. Whether the consumer is at fault or not, PIP coverage is still applicable, and the medical payment benefits can make up the difference not covered under PIP. Uninsured or underinsured coverage is probably the most significant benefit because if you are injured in an accident with someone who has little to no coverage, you will be appropriately compensated by your own provider. Our clients often find themselves out of luck when they realize that even though they have "full coverage," it does not necessarily mean underinsured or uninsured is included.

What is MMI?

When you’ve concluded your treatment of an injury with a doctor, we request a final narrative. At this time, the physician has determined that the patient has reached MMI, or maximum medical improvement. This means that the patient has reached a point where they are as healthy as they can be; they may not be in the condition that they were prior to the accident, but their health has stabilized. If that is the case, a doctor may assign the patient a permanent impairment rating according to American Medical Association guidelines. Although it is not necessary to have available during courtroom proceedings, car insurance companies may want access to the permanent impairment rating as part of their case evaluation.

Why am I responsible for the costs of the case?

At The Pansler Law Firm, we abide by the Contingency Fee Contract, which is approved by the Florida Bar. In terms of fees, the Contingency Fee Contract allows for 33.3 percent recovery before the plaintiff files a lawsuit and the defendant files a response. After that the fee is 40 percent. For the most part, we can keep costs low throughout the pre-suit and early litigation stages. Once the case reaches trial, costs can get out of hand. We do not do this on purpose; in fact, when an insurance company targets the consumer, it is inevitable that costs become unbridled. Our firm has the resources to go toe to toe with major insurance companies, but if the client wins the case, then they must pay us according to contract.

Why do I have to pay the PIP deductible?

In accordance with the no-fault statute, insurance companies can sell a maximum deductible of $2,000 to consumers. Even though this is the largest deductible allowable by law, it is not obligatory; when consumers purchase insurance, they can choose to have a deductible lower than $2,000 or not have one at all. It is always difficult for consumers to comprehend why their insurance premium benefits the other driver, especially since their negligence caused the accident.

What does it mean to "file suit," and why do we do it?

The act of filing legal papers at the courthouse is called filing suit. The client gives the authorization to file suit after all other options have been exhausted during pre-suit. Over the last decade, the insurance industry has stepped up its aggressive defense of these cases, and the number of clients we are undertaking is steadily increasing.

When a case is filed with the court, it does not necessarily mean you will be accompanying your lawyer to court. Most cases are able to be rectified before trials begin, but some still make it through. Since we have such a history with cases of this sort, we are able to provide the client with the education essential to making wise decisions. Despite the large number of cases we take on, we are extremely proud of the number of them in which we are victorious and able to satisfy the client, rewarding them with what they deserve.

 

Medical Malpractice

What is presuit?
Prior to filing a medical malpractice action, our firm must gather all pertinent medical records and have them reviewed by a qualified medical expert. If the expert believes that medical negligence occurred, then a Notice of Intent is prepared outlining the negligence and damage issues in the case. An affidavit from the expert is attached to this Notice of Intent. The defense then has 90 days to investigate the claim. Both sides are permitted to take unsworn statements and obtain information concerning the case. At the conclusion of 90 days, the defense can either settle the case, offer to admit liability and proceed to arbitration on damages, or deny the claim. The vast majority of cases are denied. Then a lawsuit is filed.

How long will it take to resolve my case?
The typical medical malpractice case takes between 1 and 2 years from the date the complaint is filed to get resolved.

How much will it cost to prosecute the case?
Medical malpractice cases are expensive to litigate. It typically costs between $40,000.00-$75,000.00 to litigate these cases.

Why is a doctor not automatically responsible for my damages when a surgery or medical procedure does not go well?
In order to prevail in a medical malpractice action, the plaintiff must prove that the doctor or other health care provider was negligent. A bad outcome in a surgical procedure does not necessarily mean that the doctor was negligent. In order to prove negligence, it must be proven that the outcome was not a reasonably foreseeable complication of the surgery or procedure.

What is a deposition?
Once a lawsuit has been filed, the defense is entitled to take the depositions of the plaintiff and other persons possessing knowledge relevant to the case. It is a sworn statement under oath concerning the issues of the case. It is normally conducted in one of the lawyers’ offices without a judge being present. The testimony is then recorded on paper and can be used in the trial of the case.

What is a mediation?
A mediation is a settlement conference which takes place prior to a case proceeding to trial. Each side appears with their lawyer and before a person known as a mediator. A mediator is often a retired judge or a lawyer practicing in the community. Both sides present their cases to the mediator. All information contained in the mediation conference is confidential and cannot be used in trial. If the parties are unable to settle the case during the mediation, then the case proceeds to trial.

Why won’t an attorney take my case even though the doctor was clearly negligent?
We are unable to take every case involving medical negligence. These cases are very expensive to handle and oftentimes the costs of litigating the case will be more than the damage caused by the negligence.

Will there be a jury trial or settlement?
The majority of medical negligence cases are settled. However, it is important that your lawyer have a proven record of trying cases, since the insurance companies will not settle the cases favorably if they do not believe your lawyer will try a lawsuit.

Will I be responsible for anything if we lose?
If we are unsuccessful in prosecuting your case, you will not be responsible for any of the costs incurred. You only become responsible for costs if we win the case.

Do you represent doctors and hospitals?
Our lawfirm only represents injured persons. We do not represent any doctors or hospitals in medical negligence actions.

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Office Locations
Lakeland Office: 223 North Florida Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33801-4901 - Phone: (863) 683-7500 - Fax: (863) 284-0774
Tampa Office: 400 North Ashley Drive, Suite 2600, Tampa, Florida 33602 - Phone: (813) 636-5000
Orlando Office: 390 North Orange Avenue, Suite 2300, Orlando, Florida 32801 - Phone: (407) 345-1221
Atlanta Office: 235 Peachtree Street, Suite 400, Atlanta, GA 30303 - Phone: (404) 688-9003