Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer

Tampa personal injury lawyer, Richard M. Rocha answers frequently asked legal questions based on the following topics. Please click a link below to view :

Q. Do I Need Money to Hire A Lawyer For My Case?
A. The most important question asked during an initial interview is how will I ever pay a lawyer. Often times, the injured client cannot work and their mode of transportation has been severely damaged. My firm accepts your case on a contingent fee basis. That means if we win , we will be paid a percentage of the recovery. If there is no recovery, you owe nothing. There are costs associated with developing every personal injury case for maximum recovery. The ambulance and hospital records will need to be ordered and often times most clients cannot afford these. Richard M. Rocha, P.A. advances all costs in the case. These costs are reimbursable if there is a recovery . Otherwise , the firm absorbs these costs. Through experience and training, our firm has successfully represented injured persons for three decades.

Q. What Types of Injuries Does Your Firm Handle?
A. Our Tampa personal injury law firm handles all types of injury cases , including automobile , slip and fall, nursing home abuse, motorcycle , dog bite, medical malpractice, workers compensation and wrongful death. We have successfully handled all of these types of cases for hundreds of Floridians for over thirty years.

Q. What is necessary to prove a slip and fall case?
A. In order to prevail in a Tampa slip and fall case, the injured party (plaintiff) must prove that the substance on the floor that caused the plaintiff to fall was on the floor a sufficient length of time that the owner knew or should have known the substance was there. Then the owner had a duty to clean it up or warn it’s customers about the danger. How does one prove how long the substance was on the floor? Many times , there is a video of inside of most retail stores for theft prevention. Other times., the plaintiff notices footprints,or shopping cart tracks through the liquid. This would indicate that the substance was there a sufficient length of time that other patrons had time to traverse the area. To find out if you have a valid slip and fall case, contact Tampa slip and fall accident lawyer, Richard M. Rocha, P.A., for a free consultation by filling out the form on our Contact Us page or by contacting our office directly.

Q. What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
A. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) is additional insurance you purchase to protect you in the event you are injured by someone who has no automobile insurance in effect on the day of the accident. In these tough financial times ,our firm sees many cases where individuals have allowed their coverage to lapse due to non- payment. Often times, a client will say they have ” full coverage “. Unfortunately , asking your agent to purchase full coverage does not include UM coverage. You must specifically request UM coverage from an agent in order to obtain it. UM coverage is not offered by the agent because it exposes the insurer to further liability. In fact, the carrier is required to obtain a written rejection of UM coverage or they must cover you up to the limits of your Bodily Injury limits. To determine if you have purchased UM coverage , the time to find out is before you’re injured by an Uninsured Motorist. Contact our office today to have your policy evaluated by an expert.

Q. What am I required to do if the police respond to my home and ask to search without a warrant?
A. A former client was faced with that exact scenario. A police officer appeared on his porch, one day, and indicated that he had received a Crime Stoppers Tip that alleged he was growing marijuana inside the premises. The officer asked for consent to search the premises and he was refused. The client was held for six hours until a search warrant could be obtained. All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our own homes. The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees we are to be free from illegal searches and seizures. The question of legality is one of the courts long after the arrest has taken place. Generally, the courts have held that homes are regarded as sacred. That is, we all have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is different for automobiles which are considered much more transitory. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a drug offense, contact a former Assistant State Attorney at Richard M. Rocha, PA, to determine if you’ve been aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure.

Q. What will the initial consultation cost?
A. Nothing. Contact us today for a free telephone consultation or submit your request for to schedule at time to stop by our office.

Q. If the police stop me and I have been drinking, what is the correct thing to do?
A. You may exercise your right to remain silent. You are not required to participate in the field sobriety tests. You are required to take a breath test, but should refuse if you have been drinking. You will furnish the state with a key piece of evidence against you if in fact you are over the limit.

Q. If I refuse the Breathalyzer exam, will I lose my license?
A.Yes, your license will be suspended for one year. However, you will be able to obtain a hardship license during the 12 month period. More importantly, you will have a better chance of being acquitted or having your case dismissed without breath test results in evidence.

Q. How can I get my criminal record expunged?
A. If the court withheld a formal Adjudication of Guilt, you would be entitled to seal your record. You would be entitled to expunge your record after 10 years.

If your case was dismissed, you are entitled to expunge your record immediately unless you were charged with certain crimes which are exceptions to the rule.

Q. What if my child is Direct Filed, by the State Attorney, into adult court even though he is a juvenile?
A. Under Florida Law, the State Attorney has wide latitude in placing Juvenile Offenders in adult court. However, there is a process in place and the child has a right to litigate that issue. This decision, by the state, could have life long repercussions for the juvenile offender. If the child Fenians in juvenile court, his or her record is sealed upon their 18th birthday. The only way the record could be viewed is if the individual subsequently is charged with a crime as an adult. Then, the sentencing judge would be permitted to view his juvenile record to determine the mitigation or enhancement of his sentence.

As a veteran Tampa juvenile criminal defense lawyer, Richard Rocha defends all juvenile cases with the child’s best interest in mind. If it is a child’s first offense, the the parents would be well served to hire a private attorney to obtain the best possible disposition of a case. There are diversionary programs available for first timers. An experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to have the child admitted to these programs. The benefit to the child is immeasurable. If the child successfully completes the program, the charge is dismissed.

Q. What should I do if I am involved in an auto accident?

  1. If injured, go to the emergency room as soon as possible following the accident. Initial documentation of injuries is critical.
  2. Contact your insurance carrier within 24 hours. Your are obligated to do so under your contract of insurance.
  3. Contact Richard M. Rocha, PA, for a free case evaluation and discussion involving your rights under the law.

Q. What is the process for pursuing a claim for Personal Injury?

  1. A typical auto inury claim will take 4 to 6 months to conclude in an out-of-court settlement. This will depend upon the severity of injuries and type of treatment required by medical providers.
  2. If an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, a lawsuit will be filed.
  3. In Hillsborough County, bringing a case to trial could take 8 months to a year.
  4. Often times, a settlement can be reached at a court ordered mediation prior to trial.

Q. What will I need to do while my case is progressing?

    1. You will need to be compliant with medical providers’ requirements for treatment protocol.
    2. A demand against the At-Fault insurance carrier cannot be made until all medical providers have placed you at maximum medical improvement (MMI).
    3. You must communicate with your attorney throughout the duration of the case.

Q. Should I purchase Uninsured Motorist benefits?
A. Yes. Due to trying financial times, many drivers allow their policies to lapse. If you are unfortunate enough to be injured by one of these individuals, you may pursue a claim under your Under Insured/Uninsured Motorist (UM) benefits.

Q. Why must I report an accident to my insurance carrier when I am not at fault?
A. Florida is a No-Fault state. Regardless of fault, each injured driver’s own insurance carrier will pay 80% of all medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to $10,000.00. This payment is issued under Personal Injury Protection Benefits.

Q. If I am involved in an automobile accident that is not my fault, will the At Fault party’s insurance company pay for my medical bills?
A. No, Florida is a No Fault state. What this means is, every licensed driver is required to carry Personal Injury Protection insurance. Regardless of fault, every person involved in the auto accident will have their own insurance company cover any medical bills.

Q. What should I do after I have been in an auto accident?
A. Immediately following the accident, contact your insurance company to report that an accident has occurred involving your vehicle.

Q. Do I need to speak with the At Fault driver’s insurance company?
A. It is in your best interest not to speak with the At Fault driver’s insurance company without the advice of legal counsel.

Q. If my car is damaged in an accident and the other party is At Fault, which insurance company will pay for the repairs to my vehicle?
If you are not At Fault, you have a choice. If you have appropriate coverage you may allow your company to pay for repairs and a rental car, if needed. However, your deductible will be subtracted from the total amount. This repair is often quicker. Your insurance company will then collect your deductible from the At Fault driver’s insurance company and reimburse you several months after the accident occurred.

Q. In the event my vehicle is totaled, will I be paid a replacement cost?
A. No, you are only entitled to fair market value of a vehicle like yours with similar mileage and in similar condition.

Q. What do I do if I’m involved in a bicycle accident?
A. A bicyclist in Florida is treated the same as a pedestrian under Florida Law. Typically, if one is injured in an automobile by another automobile, the injured party must prove that he or she has sustained permanent injury or significant scarring or disfigurement. This evidentiary requirement is not necessary for the bicyclist injured through the fault of another. The bicyclist only must prove that he or she was injured with no permanency required. This lowers the bar considerably for the injured cyclist.

It is important to remember to ride in the same direction of vehicle traffic. If riding on sidewalks, you should use caution when crossing driveways. It is always important to wear a helmet. If you take all of these precautions and are still injured on a bicycle, you should do the following:

  1. Call the police.
  2. Obtain names and addresses of witnesses, if possible.
  3. Go to the emergency room to be checked out. Often times, the adrenaline will prevent one from knowing they are seriously injured.
  4. Take photos of the bike and retain it for evidence.
  5. Contact the law office of Richard M. Rocha, P.A. to obtain a free evaluation of your Tampa bicycle accident claim.
Frequently Asked Questions

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Also serving the areas of Riverview, Plant City, Valrico, Wesley Chapel, Dade City, and others.