Get Answers to Common Questions Now
Our clients have many of the same fears and concerns. To get started, we’ve compiled answers to many of the most frequently asked questions about Federal, Florida DUI and criminal law, covering a wide range of topics to help each client understand the potential implications and options of many legal situations.
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How Much Do Personal Injury Lawyers Charge in Miami, Florida?
Most personal injury or car accident lawyers throughout Miami, Broward and South Florida charge 33%-40% of the recovery they obtain for you. This is known as a contingency fee because it depends on the value of your settlement or jury award. For example, if we obtain a settlement of $100,000 for you, our fee would be $33,000 if no lawsuit is filed, or $40,000 if a lawsuit was required. However, you would not pay us anything(!) until your case has been resolved.
Plus, I have an unwritten rule at my firm that says: our fee will not exceed your recovery. I don’t care what the contract says we are entitled to, I will reduce our fees so that you net more than we do. You’re the one that got hurt, and we were privileged to represent you. While clients need us to fight for them, we need you too. And I realize who comes first.
If a personal injury attorney wants to charge you a “retainer fee” or bill you “hourly,” I’d look for new counsel. Remember, not all Florida injury lawyers have the same qualifications and track record. Just because an attorney charges only 25% (or less) doesn’t mean that is the better choice. Assume that lawyer is only able to get you $50,000, they are not as valuable as the lawyer that charges 33% but gets you $100,000.
Do Miami Personal Injury Attorneys Charge Retainer Fees?
I realize that after having your world turned upside down as a result of a car accident or injury case, the last thing you want to do after being hurt is pay a retainer fee. Your focus is on getting better, getting back to work and regaining your health. Most lawyers who handle accident and injury cases do not charge a retainer fee. Some, however, will expect you do come up with a deposit for costs up front. I am not one of those lawyers.
If an attorney in Miami tries to charge you anything up front or do your accident case for anything other than a contingency fee, you may want to consider speaking with someone else. If I believe in your case enough to take it on, I will be willing to accept a fee once we have successfully settled or won your case that is “contingent” with the compensation that you obtain.
So you are aware, personal injury lawyers generally charge a contingency fee of 33%-40% at the end of the case. We don’t charge hourly or retainer fees. If you have additional questions or want to schedule a free consultation, call our Miami office today at (305) 707-7345.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Car Accident Case in Florida?
Like so many legal questions about car accidents, the answer is: it depends. If your injuries are minor, you only had 1-2 visits to the doctor you probably don’t need to and shouldn’t hire a lawyer. If the damage to your car is being paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance and you did not require medical treatment you need to realize two things: 1). You are very lucky and 2). I doubt an attorney could do much better than you can do on your own.
However, if your medical bills are greater than $2,500, you missed time from work or are still experiencing pain and physical problems a week or two after your accident, I encourage to at least speak with us. If the insurance company for the at-fault driver is giving you a tough time or the runaround when it comes to accepting liability (fault), we may be able to help. Most lawyers offer free consultations so you can have your questions answered.
Remember, under Florida’s PIP law, you must be seen by a doctor within 14 days and ultimately obtain an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC) in order to receive your full PIP benefits. That’s why it is always best to at least get checked out immediately after your accident to make sure you are covered and there are no serious problems.
If you want to speak with a car accident attorney serving Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, Palm Beach and Collier County, call me at (305) 707-7345. Even if you don’t hire us, we can help provide you with valuable information in the form of free books and other materials.
I Have a Herniated Lumbar Disc after a Car Crash, What Should I Do?
One of the most common and troubling injuries after a car accident is a herniated disc in the lumbar region of the spine/back. The lumbar region is in the lower part of the back and is a serious injury because this part of the back controls a lot of what we do in our everyday lives. Sitting, standing and bending are all affected by herniation to the lumbar spine.
If you have suffered a herniation to the lumbar spine after a car wreck, you should take this injury seriously and it is not something you can ignore. People often make the mistake of assuming that this will simply go away and take care of itself. That is false and it will not improve and ultimately go away or become manageable without proper treatment. Receiving treatment is very important following an accident especially if you are diagnosed with herniated disc(s) in the lumbar spine. When you do go in for treatment, be sure to communicate all of your symptoms with your doctor. Doing so will be very important should you decide to file a claim.
What should I do immediately after a car accident?
- Get Proper Medical Treatment: Contrary to popular belief and catchy jingles you may hear on the radio, you do not have to call an attorney right away after a car accident in Florida. The most important you can do is get proper medical treatment. It is a mistake to put off medical treatment simply because you are worried about the value of your car accident case. Quick medical care is just as important for your car accident claim or lawsuit as it is to your health and wellbeing. By failing to get proper treatment and care, you could be contributing to your injuries. This will reduce the amount of money that you can recover from whoever really caused your pain.
- Be Honest With Your Doctor: Do not lie or withhold information from your doctor. Many people who are seriously injured in an accident fail to tell their doctors everything. Make sure you are communicating all of your complaints to your doctor. People do this for many reasons. Mostly because they think the pain will fade or the focus on the broken bones and forget to mention the smaller stuff because it is, well, smaller or they think it’s not related to the accident because it didn’t appear until a few days later. All of this can hurt your case down the road. Tell your doctors everything.
- Document Everything: Gather as much evidence as possible immediately following an accident. That includes taking pictures, obtaining reports, witness names, etc. Also, keep track of all medical treatments, hospital and/or doctor’s visits and procedures you received after your injury. Keep a journal and make a file with dates.
Do I need a lawyer to handle my personal injury claim?
You definitely do not need an attorney for every small injury case. In fact, our office does not even accept cases where there’s little or no property damage or the injuries are minor. Why not? In small cases, the attorney’s fee and costs might leave little or nothing for you after your medical bills are paid, and that is not fair to you. While you may not need a lawyer to represent you in a small injury case, you should at least educate yourself and speak with a lawyer. Remember most lawyer’s initial consultations are free. Even if you do not have a case (sometimes this is the best advice you can get), you should meet with a lawyer before you sign any forms or speak with the insurance adjuster.
What is an Arraignment?
An arraignment is typically the beginning of every criminal case. Arraignment is where the prosecution announces the charges they are filing against you (if any). This is also where the judge formally addresses the charges against you and asks you how you wish to plea to the charges. The pleas are usually “guilty," “not guilty” or “no contest."
If you have hired an attorney prior to the arraignment date, you could have the option to waive the arraignment. If your attorney files written pleadings on your behalf, you do not have to physically show up to court. If a defendant (through counsel) waives the arraignment, it usually means that he or she is aware of the charges against them, and will plead not guilty.
Normally, the arraignment occurs shortly after the arrest. For in-custody defendants, if an arraignment takes longer than expected, the defendant could argue that his or her constitutional right to a Speedy Trial is being violated. If there is proof that the arraignment was delayed for an inexcusable reason, the case could be dismissed. However, this is most likely not the case.
If the defendant wants, needs, or does not have a criminal defense attorney on the day of the arraignment, the defendant is allowed to ask for a rescheduling of the arraignment day. If this occurs, the judge can reschedule the arraignment for a day that the defendant will have a lawyer present.
What must be proven to convict me of DUI?
To convict you of driving under the influence in Florida under section 316.193(1), Florida Statutes, the prosecutor must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecutor MUST be able to prove:
- You drove or were in actual physical control of a vehicle.
- While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, you
- were under the influence of [alcoholic beverages] [a chemical substance] [a controlled substance] to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired.
- had a [blood] [breath]-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per [100 milliliters of blood] [210 liters of breath].
Actual physical control of a vehicle means you are physically in or on the vehicle and have the capability to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether you are actually operating the vehicle at the time.
According to Florida’s standard jury instructions, normal faculties “include but are not limited to the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies and, in general, to normally perform the many mental and physical acts of our daily lives.”
What happens if there is a blood/breath reading in my case?
When the jury hears evidence of a blood/breath reading, Florida law has various presumptions (these presumptions may be overcome with other evidence that you either were, or were not, under the influence:
- Reading below a .05 - If you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and had a blood or breath-alcohol level of .05 and below the jury is to presume that you were not under the influence.
- Reading more than .05 but below .08 - When a jury finds that you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and had a blood or breath-alcohol reading above a .05 but below a .08 there is no presumption either way that you were, or were not under the influence. In this case the jury will consider other evidence to determine whether you were under the influence to the point that your normal faculties were impaired.
- Reading of .08 or more - This evidence alone is enough to find that you were under the influence at the time of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. Note: this evidence may be contradicted or rebutted by other evidence that you were NOT under the influence to the extent that your normal faculties were impaired.
What if I failed the roadside sobriety tests or blew over the legal limit?
There may still be defenses available in your case. DUI law is very complex and has many layers. Don’t assume that because you were stopped, arrested, did not perform to standards on the roadside sobriety exercises and blew over the legal limit of .08 that all is lost. Before you go to court and plead guilty to the charge of DUI, you should seek the experience and counsel of a DUI lawyer in Miami to discuss your case, potential defenses and options.
Call my office, (305)707-7345, I’m here to help you learn how you can fight these charges.
Is DUI a felony?
DUI is usually a misdemeanor with extremely serious consequences, fines, penalties and even the possibility of jail time. However, those consequences are ratcheted up when your DUI carries with it certain factors or aggravators that will make it a felony.
There are two ways your DUI can become a felony:
1. This is not your first DUI and you have multiple convictions:
- Third DUI within 10 years of the second conviction
- Mandatory 30 days in jail
- Third-degree felony, maximum sentence of 5 years in prison
- $2,000 — $5,000 fine
- 10-year driver’s license revocation
- Fourth or subsequent conviction
- Maximum prison sentence of 5 years
- Permanent driver’s license revocation with no possibility of hardship reinstatement
- Minimum $2,000 fine
2. Aggravating factors such as serious bodily injury or death:
- Cause serious bodily injury
- Third-degree felony
- Maximum 5 years in prison
- $5,000 fine (max)
- Minimum 3-year revocation
- DUI Manslaughter
- Second-degree felony
- Maximum 15 years in prison
- $10,000 fine (max)
- Mandatory permanent revocation, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement in 5 years if no prior related DUI convictions
- DUI Manslaughter and Leaving the Scene
- First-degree felony
- $10,000 fine (max)
- 30 years in prison
If you or someone you love is being charged with a felony, do not wait. Enlist the services of a Miami DUI attorney that will fight for your rights and leave no stone unturned in his defense. Call (305) 707-7345 to schedule a consultation, I am here to help.
- Third DUI within 10 years of the second conviction
What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
People often ask the difference between DUI and DWI. In Florida, drunk driving laws are classified under DUI, or driving under the influence. While it is quite common to confuse the two acronyms, the answer depends on the laws in the state in which you are in. States define and identify drunk and/or driving under the influence of drugs (or controlled substances) differently. DUI is driving under the influence, the way Florida classifies it. DWI, driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired is commonly used in other states, such as Texas.
DUI is a very serious crime in Florida. The state has some of the toughest DUI laws of anywhere in the country and anyone suspected driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is charged under Florida DUI Statute, §316.193. In Florida, the term DWI is not used in the statutes. If you are looking for more information, read my FREE consumer guide: “ It’s Not Just A Traffic Ticket: A Six-Pack of Questions That Can Cause a Hangover after a DUI Arrest”. This FREE book provides information on how to hire a DUI lawyer in Florida and answers the six questions making your head hurt.
Each state identifies the offense differently by using either DUI or DWI. Some states may apply both DUI and DWI to their laws, while some others have statutes that apply operating under the influence (OUI).
No matter, the terminology used, most states have serious consequences for driving while under the influence. Florida has some of the harshest DUI laws in the nation. Consequences in Florida, even for a first offense can include jail, probation, mandatory license suspension, vehicle immobilization or impoundment, ignition interlock. In addition, a DUI conviction can never be erased from your criminal history meaning that will not only impact and increase your insurance premiums but can also jeopardize your job, professional license, ability to obtain scholarships, get a loan or obtain security clearances.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, you need to act quickly because you actually two problems, not just one. Florida immediately suspends your driver’s license if you were over the legal limit of .08 or if you refused to submit to a breath, blood or urine test. You only have 10 days from the date of arrest to request a formal review hearing to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. If eligible, you may also request to waive formal or informal review and attempt to obtain a restricted permit that allows you to drive for “Business Purpose Only.”
Either way, you need to enlist the services of a DUI lawyer that focuses their practice on the defense of drunk driving cases and can help navigate both sides of a DUI. I welcome the opportunity to see you for a confidential consultation to discuss your case, goals and potential defenses. You can schedule a consultation by calling, (305) 707-7345, or by filling out our DUI Intake Form.
I invite you to contact me to see how I may be of service.