Frequently Asked Personal Injury Law Questions

When you have legal related questions, Babbitt & Johnson P.A. has answers. To get started, view below the answers to the questions we get usually asked by clients.

Defective Medical Devices FAQ

How do I know if I have a case?

The best, and certainly the most accurate, way of knowing whether you have a valid medical device case is to consult with an attorney experienced in this area. They handle such cases regularly, and can quickly tell whether a case can be brought – and what strategies may be most effective. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., we’ve been taking on these cases for decades – and obtaining quick and fair results for our clients. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation.

What kind of defects can create a valid medical device case?

Medical device injuries can trigger lawsuits under a number of circumstances, including: an improper design, faulty manufacturing, or when the product does not carry a reasonable warning of any danger it presents. Depending on the facts of the case, the suit might be brought against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor – and sometimes all three.

Product Liability FAQ

What kind of defects can trigger a product liability suit?

There are various ways product liability suits are triggered: A product might be designed so that it is inherently unsafe. It might be negligently manufactured, creating a potential hazard. The product may not carry warnings of any danger it presents. Depending on the circumstances, one or more parties – designer, manufacturer, distributor – could be held liable for a resulting injury.

What can you recover with a Product Liability case?

When a defective product does not cause injury, users may be able to recover the cost of the product. But when an injury does occur, the recovery, as you would imagine, can be far more significant, and include compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and – in particularly egregious cases – punitive damages.

How do I know if I have a case?

The best, and certainly the most accurate, way of knowing whether you have a valid product liability case is to consult with an attorney experienced in this area. They handle such cases regularly, and can quickly tell whether a case can be brought – and what strategies may be most effective. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., we’ve been taking on these cases for decades – and obtaining quick and fair results for our clients. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Premises Liability FAQ

Who might be liable for my injuries if I was injured on someone else's property?

If the reasonable standards to protect visitors – spelled out by local law – were not followed, and an injury results, the person or entity that was in charge of the property may be held liable. This could be the owner, the property manager, or some other party, depending on the circumstances of the case.

What kinds of damages are recoverable?

The extent of a plaintiff’s recovery depends on the facts of his or her case. In general, however, the following damages may be recoverable:

  • Medical bills and expenses incurred as a result of the incident
  • Income that is lost during the plaintiff’s physical recovery
  • Compensation for pain and suffering as a result of the incident

If I am injured on someone else's property should I seek medical help?

Always – and without delay. Your injuries might be more severe than you think. See a doctor immediately to evaluate them. Do not wait.

How do I know if I have a case?

The best, and certainly the most accurate, way of knowing whether you have a valid premises liability case is to consult with an attorney experienced in this area. They handle such cases regularly, and can quickly tell whether a case can be brought – and what strategies may be most effective. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., we’ve been taking on these cases for decades – and obtaining quick and fair results for our clients. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Pharmaceutical Litigation FAQ

What is a brand-name drug?

A brand-name drug is one that is covered by a patent, and marketed by the manufacturer (or group of manufacturers) that developed it. The patent provides for market exclusivity; no one else can manufacture, or sell, the same drug. This enables drug makers to charge high prices for their products (their argument is that it’s necessary to recoup the cost of development). Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra are all brand-name drugs.

What is a generic drug?

Once the patent on a brand-name drug expires – typically after many years – the compound can be made by any company. These versions – chemically identical to the brand-name drug but usually far less expensive – are known as generics. Like brand-name drugs, they must be approved by the FDA before they can be sold.

Why should I hire a pharmaceutical litigation lawyer as opposed to just any personal injury attorney?

Drug litigation is a particularly complex area of the law – and one where opponents are typically large companies with ample financial and legal resources. Often they’re aligned with some of the most powerful defense firms in the country. Lawyers who tackle these cases not only need to have a mastery of the law and courtroom strategies, but significant resources themselves. It’s the only way a pharmaceutical case can see the resolution plaintiffs need – and deserve. But most personal injury lawyers just can’t provide it, lacking the necessary experience or the resources – and often both. Plaintiffs need more than a lawyer who wants to win. They need a lawyer who can win. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., we have four decades of experience taking on the most complex cases – and the most powerful opponents. We have the know-how, as well as the financial and staffing resources, to see these sophisticated, difficult suits all the way through to a resolution that isn’t simply desired – but just.

Business Litigation FAQ

Am I really not going to have to pay hourly rates?

Yes. We take business litigation cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that we receive a percentage of any recovery you obtain as a result of the case, whether it be a verdict we win or a settlement we negotiate. It also means that if no recovery is achieved, you pay us nothing. Our expenses work the same way. Should you recover an award or settlement, our costs in developing the case are deducted from that. If you don’t recover, you don’t repay us. The risk is ours. We take it because of our belief in our abilities – and your case.

Why should I hire an experienced trial lawyer as opposed to our regular business lawyer?

Your business lawyer is probably top notch – at what he does: handling the contracts and deals that a company makes in its day-to-day operations. But in a dispute with another company, only a trial lawyer knows the laws, procedures and — just as importantly — the nuances of a court. Experienced litigators know how to file court documents properly and effectively, and how to present winning strategies – and a winning case — to a judge and jury. Only a skilled trial lawyer can successfully try a commercial litigation matter and add value to your bottom line.

Aviation Accidents FAQ

Why do I need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area of the law?

Like other professionals, lawyers tend to specialize in particular areas of practice. Some focus on real estate closings; others handle injury cases only. Some never see the inside of a courtroom, while others take many cases to trial. Each area of the law has its own rules, procedures, and nuances, and by concentrating in a specific field, a lawyer doesn’t just gain experience, but comes to understand, and exploit, the strategies and tactics that help them best serve their clients. In an aviation case, where both the emotions and stakes run high, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has already mastered the field – not one who will be learning on your time, and at your expense. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., our lawyers have decades of experience handling catastrophic injury cases. We don’t just know the law, but how to use it to best protect, and vindicate, our clients’ rights – in each and every case we handle.

How will I go about paying for your time and expenses?

Most personal injury cases – including aviation accidents – are handled on a contingent fee agreement. This means that we receive a percentage of any recovery you receive as a result of the case, whether it be a verdict we win or a settlement we negotiate. It also means that if no recovery is achieved, you pay us nothing. Our expenses work the same way. Should you recover an award or settlement, our costs in developing the case are deducted from that. If you don’t recover, you don’t repay us. The risk is ours. We take it because of our confidence in our abilities – and your case.

Who is legally liable for damages in a general aviation accident?

While the owner and operator of the aircraft certainly may be liable for damages, other parties can be legally liable, as well, depending on the cause of the accident. Plaintiffs may be able to recover from manufacturers and maintenance companies, for example, in certain circumstances. In one recent case, a company that leased an aircraft to an inexperienced pilot was found to be liable for the accident that resulted. Working with an experienced aviation attorney is essential in identifying all possible claims and defendants.

How do I know if I have a case?

Aviation accident cases are complex and demanding, and only a lawyer who focuses in the area can make an accurate determination of whether you have a valid claim. Our lawyers have decades of experience litigating aviation suits, and, in a free consultation, can analyze your case, and its prospects.

Medical & Hospital Negligence FAQ

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider (or a hospital) fails to render care that is in keeping with accepted medical techniques and principles. In other words, they fall below the reasonable standard of care for a given situation. Generally, this occurs when a doctor, nurse, or technician does something that is not in keeping with good practice, or fails to do something necessary for the patient’s care.

Who can sue for medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice cases can be brought by a patient who suffered harm due to negligence. But in some circumstances, they can be brought by others, as well. For example, if the injuries are severe, permanent, and disabling, members of the patient’s family – spouse, children, or parents – may have a claim. Keep in mind, however, that the laws governing this legal area vary from state to state. In Florida, for example, parents can sue for malpractice only if their children are 25 or under. When a patient dies as a result of medical negligence, wrongful death laws – such as the Florida Wrongful Death Statute (F.S. 768, 17-21) – may enable family members to sue. The permitted plaintiffs under the Florida law include the estate of the deceased person, and the surviving spouse, children, and parents.

Who can be sued for medical malpractice?

In a medical malpractice case, anyone whose professional negligence has caused injury to a patient can be named as a defendant. In Florida, claims against private individuals and medical institutions are governed under Statutes 766-768, which often go through revision. A check of the most recent statute book can provide an up-to-date picture of the legal landscape. Governmental entities — and the health care professionals employed by them — may stand in a different posture in the eyes of the law. For example, in Florida, a suit against a hospital owned by the state, city, county, or county tax assessing district must be brought under the Florida Tort Claims Act. In these cases, a patient’s claim is much more restricted, both in terms of what must be proved to establish legal responsibility, and the amount of damages that may be recovered. When a patient is injured in a hospital owned by the federal government, such as a Veterans Administration facility, their lawsuit must be brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

How long do I have to bring suit?

This, too, can vary from state to state. Florida, for instance, has a two-year statute of limitations in medical negligence cases. This means, generally, that the lawsuit must be filed within two years from the time the plaintiff – whether it be the patient or a family member or guardian – knew, or should have known with reasonable diligence, that the injury occurred and there was a reasonable possibility that medical malpractice caused it. Florida also has a “statute of repose,” another harsh provision in its civil laws. This means that unless there is fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment, one can never sue a health care provider more than four years after the actual malpractice incident. So even if the plaintiff does not know, or can’t be expected to know, that an injury occurred, it cannot bring a claim, in most circumstances, once four years have passed since the incident. Florida does have one significant exception to this rule called “Tony’s Law,” which was enacted in 1996. This statute specifies that if a malpractice incident occurred after July 1, 1996, the four-year statute of repose cannot cut off a child’s malpractice claim before that child’s eighth birthday. However, the two-year statute of limitations still applies – and can cut off the claim if the child’s parents or guardians knew, or should have known, of the injury and the reasonable possibility that medical malpractice caused it. Since the rules on limitations are often changed by the legislature – and often modified by the appellate courts – it’s important to consult with an attorney immediately if you think your potential case could have a timing problem.

How common are malpractice cases?

Here’s another fact that may come as a surprise: Very few patients who are injured by physician negligence actually sue. Indeed, according to research published the New England Journal of Medicine, only about 2 percent of patients harmed by physician mistakes ever seek compensation through a lawsuit. Meanwhile, medical errors are anything but infrequent events, with studies by Harvard researchers estimating negligence-caused deaths at up to 98,000 each year – more than twice the number of people who die in automobile accidents.

Can I expect the same result in my case as in similar cases you list?

All medical malpractice cases – no matter how similar they may appear – are different, with their own unique circumstances. The defendants, juries, and judges will vary, as well. As such, each case must be evaluated on its own merits. It also means that if Babbitt & Johnson P.A. – or any other law firm – obtained a certain result in a case that seems similar to yours, that shouldn’t imply that you can expect the same result. We analyze each case individually, and many factors go into that evaluation. These include:

  • How clear is the defendant’s negligence? (Will it be viewed as an egregious error or as a reasonable medical complication?)
  • How hard is it to prove the defendant’s negligence? (How many medical experts will be required? How many medical specialties are involved?)
  • What are the damages – and how hard will they be to prove? (Can the plaintiff show “hard damages” or is the harm intangible?)
  • What sort of witnesses will the plaintiff and health care providers make? (Juries tend to help people they like.)
  • What is the caliber of the attorneys representing the parties? (The best lawyers tend to get the best results for their clients. This applies to both sides.)
  • Where is the venue? (The county in which the case must be filed and tried is a huge consideration. Many smaller communities in Central and North Florida, for example, have never seen a substantial verdict returned in a malpractice case. Others, meanwhile, have had very large verdicts.)
  • Who is the judge?
  • What are the legal issues presented?

What must I prove in my case?

In any medical malpractice case, a plaintiff must introduce evidence that establishes three key elements:

  • Negligence
  • Proximate (immediate) cause
  • Damages

Failure to prove any one of these essentials means that the plaintiff has not made their case. And there are no exceptions to that rule. Therefore, it’s important to understand how courts, and juries, define these elements. Negligence is defined as the failure to use ordinary care. In a medical malpractice case, this means that the health care provider – or hospital – failed to do something that was in keeping with accepted medical or nursing practice. In other words, they failed to take the reasonable steps that another professional in their shoes would have. Proximate cause is a legal concept that essentially means the defendant’s action – or inaction – caused the result at issue. In all cases, it is essential to prove that the health care provider’s negligence did in fact cause the plaintiff’s injuries – and that this injury (or one similar to it) would have been reasonably foreseeable as a result of the defendant’s failure to render appropriate care. In short: The injury wasn’t a one-in-a-million occurrence, but something likely to happen given the provider’s negligence. Damage is the harm to the patient that directly results from the health care provider’s negligence. It isn’t just the physical harm, either, but the emotional and financial suffering the plaintiff has experienced as a result of the incident.

How do I go about proving my case?

The way cases are tried can also vary from state to state. Florida, in nearly every instance, requires the use of expert testimony to prove medical negligence. The expert – a physician who is licensed and practicing at the time of trial or when the injury occurred – will establish the standards of good and accepted practice for the care in question, and how the defendant, by his or her actions, violated them. It’s important to note that a bad medical outcome does not automatically mean there was negligence – and juries are not permitted to infer negligence from bad results. Therefore, if the plaintiff cannot, or does not, introduce the required testimony from a qualified expert, they will fail to make their case. If that happens, the judge may withdraw the case from the jury and direct a verdict against the plaintiff. In most cases, expert testimony is also required to prove proximate cause. A qualified physician must testify that the plaintiff’s injuries probably would not have occurred if proper medical practices had been followed – and that the defendant’s health care provider should have reasonably foreseen this or some similar result. Once again, if there is not adequate expert testimony for this essential element of the suit, the plaintiff fails to make their case, and the defense may move for a directed verdict. There are limited instances where juries may, in fact, infer causation – but those cases are relatively rare. Damages in a medical malpractice case can take many forms, and each may need to be proven in a different way. Some damage elements – such as the presence of physical pain or mental anguish – can be proved by the testimony of the plaintiff, family, and friends. To prove lost wages, a plaintiff can introduce tax or wage records. Bills – as well as the testimony of an expert – are often used to establish medical expenses. By using an expert, a plaintiff can also show that the charges were reasonable and necessary to treat the condition. There are other elements of damage – such as future disability and medical expense – that may require the testimony of an expert witness. Keep in mind, too, that even if a jury returns a verdict and an award for the plaintiff, that isn’t always the end of the story. Defendants will sometimes appeal a ruling that they have been negligent. When they do, an appellate court will review the trial record to determine if the plaintiff’s evidence of negligence was legally adequate.

How long will my case take?

Normally, a medical malpractice case takes one to three years to bring to conclusion. The time varies because of a number of factors that aren’t always the same – or equally complex – from case to case. These can include: the number of parties involved; the number of depositions and depth of investigation needed; the schedules and other commitments of the expert witnesses, judge, and other key participants. Most of the cases we accept – some 80 percent – eventually settle, which helps our clients avoid long delays in obtaining redress. But if the case is tried and we obtain a favorable verdict, the defendant has an absolute right to appeal, which can prolong the case another 2 to 4 years. Increasingly, we’re finding that more defendants – perhaps emboldened by “tort reform” – are willing to take cases all the way to trial. That makes it even more important to make sure you work with an experienced, aggressive trial lawyer.

Will I have to attend court hearings?

Not always. As your case is developed and prosecuted, there will be various court hearings on legal matters. Often these hearings will involve discovery issues; for example, when one side objects to turning over certain documents and the court has to rule on whether those objections are justified. These types of hearings do not typically require your attendance or participation. But if any session does require you to attend, you will be notified promptly.

How will I go about paying for your time and expenses?

Most medical malpractice cases – like other types of personal injury lawsuits – are handled on a contingent fee agreement. This means that we receive a percentage of any recovery you obtain as a result of the case, whether it be a verdict we win or a settlement we negotiate. It also means that if no recovery is achieved, you pay us nothing. Our expenses work the same way. Should you recover an award or settlement, our costs in developing the case are deducted from that. If you don’t recover, you don’t repay us. The risk is ours. We take it because of our belief in our abilities – and your case.

What kind of expenses are involved?

The prosecution of a malpractice case is expensive. Medical records must be obtained, depositions must be taken, experts must be paid for their time. There are costs involved, too, in the courtroom exhibits and technology used to fully demonstrate the devastating injuries that our clients have suffered. Expenses can vary – and vary greatly – from case to case, but typically, our cost in developing a medical malpractice case will run between $50,000 and $200,000. Of course, in more complex cases, the cost may be substantially higher. Not surprisingly, we’re very careful about the cases we take on. When we handle a case, it’s because we have every expectation of winning it. We need to feel confident about each case – just as you need to feel confident about us.

Wrongful Death FAQ

Why do I need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area of the law?

Like other professionals, lawyers tend to specialize in particular areas of practice. Some focus on real estate closings; others handle injury cases only. Some never see the inside of a courtroom, while others take many cases to trial. Each area of the law has its own rules, procedures, and nuances, and by concentrating in a specific field, a lawyer doesn’t just gain experience, but comes to understand, and exploit, the strategies and tactics that help them best serve their clients. In a wrongful death case, where both the emotions and stakes run high, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has already mastered the field – not one who will be learning on your time, and at your expense. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., our lawyers have decades of experience handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. We don’t just know the law, but how to use it to best protect, and vindicate, our clients’ rights – in each and every case we handle.

How will I go about paying for your time and expenses?

Most personal injury cases – including wrongful death suits – are handled on a contingent fee agreement. This means that we receive a percentage of any recovery you receive as a result of the case, whether it be a verdict we win or a settlement we negotiate. It also means that if no recovery is achieved, you pay us nothing. Our expenses work the same way. Should you recover an award or settlement, our costs in developing the case are deducted from that. If you don’t recover, you don’t repay us. The risk is ours. We take it because of our confidence in our abilities – and your case.

What types of accidents can lead to a wrongful death?

  • Medical malpractice
  • Car Accidents
  • Work-related Injuries
  • Maritime Accident
  • Automobile Rollovers
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Trucking Accidents
  • Off-shore Accidents
  • Railroad Accidents
  • Criminal Attacks

Do I have a case?

Until we gather all of the facts, it’s difficult to say whether you have a case or not. That’s why a consultation is a crucial first step in any potential wrongful death suit. If a loved one has died as the result of someone else’s negligence, feel free to contact us. We can assist you in determining whether you have a valid claim.

What is negligence?

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care. It means that under a given set of circumstances, someone did not use the degree of care that a reasonable person, in the same situation, would have used. Evidence of negligence is the basis for liability in most personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Can I take my time contacting a lawyer?

No – and this is a crucial point. Wrongful death claims are subject to statutes of limitations. In layman’s language, this means that you have only a certain amount of time to file a complaint. Once that time runs out, the law prohibits you from filing a lawsuit – even if you have a valid claim.

Who can sue when a loved one dies?

Parents, siblings, spouses, and children can sue when a loved one dies as a result of someone else’s negligence.

Auto Accidents FAQ

Why do I need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this area of the law?

Like other professionals, lawyers tend to specialize in particular areas of practice. Some focus on real estate closings; others handle injury cases only. Some never see the inside of a courtroom, while others take many cases to trial. Each area of the law has its own rules, procedures, and nuances, and by concentrating in a specific field, a lawyer doesn’t just gain experience, but comes to understand, and exploit, the strategies and tactics that help them best serve their clients. In a motor vehicle case, where both the emotions and stakes run high, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has already mastered the field – not one who will be learning on your time, and at your expense. At Babbitt & Johnson P.A., our lawyers have decades of experience handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. We don’t just know the law, but how to use it to best protect, and vindicate, our clients’ rights – in each and every case we handle.

How will I go about paying for your time and expenses?

Most motor vehicle accident cases are handled on a contingent fee agreement. This means that we receive a percentage of any recovery you receive as a result of the case, whether it be a verdict we win or a settlement we negotiate. It also means that if no recovery is achieved, you pay us nothing. Our expenses work the same way. Should you recover an award or settlement, our costs in developing the case are deducted from that. If you don’t recover, you don’t repay us. The risk is ours. We take it because of our confidence in our abilities – and your case.

What do I do when I'm in a motor vehicle accident?

The first step is to make sure you get the other party’s information, including name, address, phone number, and insurance details. Get the police officer’s name, as well, and try to remember the details of the accident. Under no circumstances should you ever blame yourself out loud; this can be used against you later on. Finally, when you get home, call an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer to discuss the facts of your matter and determine if you have a valid case.

If you still have legal-related questions, contact our Florida personal injury experts at (561) 684-2500 to get the answers you need.