FAQs

Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney

Yes. The Florida Bar has established a board certification program to help people find a lawyer who has demonstrated ability and experience in a particular specialized field of law. The program also improves competence by requiring continuing legal education within the specialty field.

To become board certified, a lawyer must pass a written examination to test his knowledge in the specialized area. He must also demonstrate to The Florida Bar that he has substantial experience in the specialized area. He must complete specially approved continuing education courses and must also have his ability and experience in the specialty favorably evaluated by judges and other lawyers who are familiar with his work.

The Haverman Law Firm is proud to have received this certification from The Florida Bar as Civil Trial Law Specialists.

If the answer to the first question was no, the lawyer cannot claim to be a specialist in this field. Only lawyers who are board certified by the Florida Bar may claim to be specialists in the field. It is a violation of our professional ethics for a lawyer who has not obtained board certification to claim to be a specialist in any field.

No. Some of the most prolific advertising lawyers handle only a small number of the cases they accept. Instead they refer cases out to different law firms and receive a significant portion of the fees as the "secondary" or "referring" law firm. Under this system, the original attorney is sometimes only a broker. It is often not favorable to the client, who finds himself with lawyers he may not know, handling his case for less than the full compensation he is paying.

Many law firms attempt to represent both insurance companies and injured people who have claims against insurance companies. Unless the insurance company is the same one in both cases, there is usually nothing illegal or impermissible about this practice.

However, there are times when a client's interests require a position to be taken about the law that is opposed by the entire insurance industry. Precedent set in one case can detrimentally affect all insurance companies with cases of that type pending. That puts a lawyer who tries to handle both sides of liability claims in a difficult position. He knows that winning the case for one injured client could hurt his insurance company clients on many, many other open cases.

That is a problem we avoid in our firm by simply refusing to represent insurance companies in cases against injured people.

Lawyers can be expensive! The Haverman Law Firm handles many cases based on non-contingent hourly fees, calculated upon the amount of time the case requires, billed monthly. However, we know that many people need us most at a time when they can least afford us. A serious accident, with medical bills and missed work, can financially devastate a family.

Because of this, we offer contingent fees, set as a percentage of the recovery, if there is one. If there is no recovery, there will be no fee. Under this arrangement, we also advance money for court costs and litigation expenses which does not have to be repaid unless there is a recovery. Many clients prefer this alternative because it helps protect their cash flow, it helps share the risk on difficult cases, and some clients feel secure knowing their lawyer has a financial incentive to maximize their recovery.

At our firm, the choice of billing methods is strictly decided by the client.

Don't be afraid to ask. You may be surprised! The overwhelming majority of cases, especially smaller ones it seems, are settled before trial. The result is that many "trial lawyers" have spent shockingly little time in the courtroom.
Don't be afraid to ask. You may be surprised! The overwhelming majority of cases, especially smaller ones it seems, are settled before trial. The result is that many "trial lawyers" have spent shockingly little time in the courtroom.

An out-of-court settlement is usually much better for the client than a trial, which introduces stress, risks, and expenses. However, if the other side is adamant or unreasonable, it is important to know that your attorney does have the experience to capably present your case to an impartial jury and achieve the result you deserve.

Sometimes you need to convince the insurance company that you are willing to take your case to trial in order to obtain a fair settlement. That threat is much more credible if it comes from an attorney whom the insurance company knows has a good record of previous trial success.

One of the requirements to become a board certified civil trial lawyer is significant demonstrated actual courtroom experience in civil trial cases. Insist on it.
An out-of-court settlement is usually much better for the client than a trial, which introduces stress, risks, and expenses. However, if the other side is adamant or unreasonable, it is important to know that your attorney does have the experience to capably present your case to an impartial jury and achieve the result you deserve.

Sometimes you need to convince the insurance company that you are willing to take your case to trial in order to obtain a fair settlement. That threat is much more credible if it comes from an attorney whom the insurance company knows has a good record of previous trial success.

One of the requirements to become a board certified civil trial lawyer is significant demonstrated actual courtroom experience in civil trial cases. Insist on it.

Reasons to Hire a Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if your spouse has initiated the divorce process, now is the time to make sure you will have an experienced family law attorney on your side throughout the process. Following are some reasons why.

Experience Assessing Divorce Options
Family law attorneys are experienced handling divorce cases like yours and can tell you at the outset what course(s) of action would be best for you in proceeding with your divorce -- including your options in areas like child custody, division of property/finances, and child support.

Objectivity
A family law attorney can be more objective about your divorce than you can (especially when emotions run high), and will not make any rash decisions in handling your case. For instance, when you may be tempted to go for a quick resolution of property division through early settlement, your attorney may counsel you that it is in your best interests to wait for a more fair and equitable division.

Paperwork and Red Tape
An experienced attorney can work through the maze of paperwork that can be necessary in resolving your divorce, so that you can get on with your life.

Experts and Consultants
When handling a divorce, especially in complex cases where the divorcing couple has extensive property and financial interests, experienced family law attorneys often work with a team of experts and consultants who have experience in specialized areas, and will speak knowledgably to support arguments on the financial aspects of your case.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
An experienced family law attorney will know whether your divorce may be best resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes like mediation, potentially saving you time, money, and emotional energy.

Experience Working with Other Lawyers
An experienced family law attorney can deal most effectively and expediently with opposing counsel in the early exchange of information (the "discovery" process), during informal settlement negotiations, and in ADR or family court.

Favorable Settlement Agreements
Family law attorneys work hard to reach the best divorce settlement agreements for their clients, as early in the divorce process as possible.

Family Court Experience
If a trial becomes necessary, an experienced family law attorney can zealously represent you in court and work toward achieving the best possible verdict in your favor.

What Is Family Law?

Also known as Dissolution of Marriage, every divorce proceeding is unique. We handle straightforward uncomplicated divorces and complex dissolutions. A divorce can involve:

  • Alimony
  • Division of property
  • Complex business evaluation
  • Mutual funds, stocks and securities distribution
  • Evaluation of assets
  • Debt management
  • Pensions/401K Plans
  • Children's Issues
  • Attorneys Fees & Costs

 

We can be trusted to negotiate an equitable distribution of debts and assets, as well as handling all other matters related to divorces.

We represent fathers and mothers seeking relief from the courts to establish parental rights for the purpose of:

  • Receiving child support
  • Establishing visitation, contact and access rights
  • Establishing shared parental responsibility

Child custody, support, and visitation decisions are some of the most important aspects of a dissolution proceeding, or paternity for individuals with children. In determining how parental responsibilities are to be shared, a couple must determine:

  • The primary and secondary residence of the children
  • Whether rotating custody is appropriate
  • What the visitation schedule will be
  • Shared decision making

There are a number of important issues that must be determined in the calculation of child support, including:

  • Income of the parties
  • The needs of the child
  • The contact and access schedule
  • The needs of the children for health and life insurance

There are many issues involved in formulating an alimony schedule. Our experience and focus ensures that our clients have the best advice available, regarding:

  • Whether alimony should be permanent and periodic
  • Whether rehabilitative or lump sum alimony is appropriate
  • Whether alimony should not be paid
  • The effects of a long-term marriage versus a short-term marriage
  • A determination of need
  • An ability to pay

For some married couples, dissolution of marriage is not a possibility. Separate maintenance agreements can be crafted so that a spouse who is separated can still receive support payments.

Our attorneys are available to assist in procuring a Domestic Violence Injunction or in defending an individual against the granting of one. In the state of Florida, a family member who is in imminent danger or who is a victim of abuse by another family member or by a person with whom they have had a child or with whom they are cohabitating may apply for a domestic violence injunction. It is a stronger remedy then a restraining order because it provides protection in conjunction with law-enforcement.

We represent clients in the enforcement of all agreements that have resulted from the dissolution process, including:

  • Shared parenting issues
  • Contact and access to the children
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Property settlement
  • Alimony

The contempt power of the courts may be able to be utilized for enforcement.

We represent clients who are seeking to make an amendment to the agreements that have resulted from a dissolution of marriage or paternity process, including:

  • Emancipation of child
  • Increase or diminishment of child support
  • Changes in the primary residence due to the best interest of the child based on a change in circumstances
  • Modifications of child support and alimony due to changes in economic circumstances
  • Changes in contact and access schedules

We defend against and institute dependency proceedings. In a dependency proceeding, the court looks to see if a child has been abused, abandoned or neglected to determine whether that child should stay in the custody of his or her parents. If you feel that a child is not being properly cared for, a dependency proceeding to place that child into the custody of a more appropriate caregiver is an option.

Our goal is to protect and safeguard our client's premarital assets according to the agreement between the parties. It is of the utmost importance that every aspect of a prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable because, in general, prenuptial agreements are disfavored by law. We pay particular attention to the drafting and the execution of a prenuptial agreement to insure that it will be enforceable. We also represent individuals who are seeking to have a prenuptial agreement enforced or disqualified.

Although grandparent's rights have been significantly diminished by Florida Supreme Court decisions, our firm is available to advise you as to what rights exist and what remedies are available.

It is our goal to facilitate an amicable agreement for the parties in a dissolution of marriage. We believe that using alternative dispute resolution reduces the emotional and financial costs of a divorce proceeding. While we are ready and able to take any case to trial, it is important to us to keep our clients out of the expensive litigation process. Because of our years of experience, nine out of ten of our dissolution cases are resolved out of court. We can accomplish this through negotiation between attorneys or by mediation.

Divorce

There are many factors that affect the time needed for a divorce. The most important factors are:

  • Whether it is a contested divorce
  • If you and your spouse agree on all issues, the typical divorce could be complete in as little as 3 months
  • The amount of property and if there are children. More property and the presence of children increases the complexity and the amount of issues you and your spouse must agree on. Again, if all issues are uncontested, the divorce can be complete in as little as 3 months.
  • A contested divorce can take as long as 18 months. Some bitterly contested divorces take years. You and your spouse have complete control over the length of time it takes, depending on your desire and willingness to put this part of your life behind you.
  • Another important factor is where the divorce is filed. Time delays are greater for Broward County and shorter for Palm Beach County. You must file your divorce where either spouse resides or the location of the marital home.
Category: Divorce

You are not required to have an attorney for divorce, child custody, support enforcement, or any other type of court procedure. Florida law allows you to act as your own attorney.

Category: Divorce

Whether you plan to get a divorce or have no such plans, you can petition the court for temporary alimony and child support.

Category: Divorce

Although Adultery is mentioned in the Florida Divorce Law Statutes, many courts do not consider Adultery as an issue. If you were the victim of adultery, you must be prepared to show the Adultery caused a wrongful financial loss to the marriage. Many times Adultery results in marital funds spent on a third party. If this is the case, you should be prepared to show this in court.

Category: Divorce

Times have changed and a divorcing mom should not take child custody as a sure thing. Many fathers have successfully won child custody. You must make a convincing case that you are the best and most fit guardian of the children. To win child custody, you must make a strong showing in all of the important factors a court uses to decide.

Category: Divorce

In Florida, primary residential parents seeking relocation with their children need to file what's called a "petition for modification of final judgment" to re adjust visitation schedules and child support obligations for the soon to be out of state non custodial parent. If the relocation is in the best interests of the children, i.e. moving for a better paying job, or to be near family, and is not done to frustrate the visitation schedule of the non custodial parent, or for vindictive reasons, chances are the court will grant the relocation of the primary residential parent with the children. Since the primary residential parent will now have the children more frequently, child support to that parent should generally be increased.

Category: Divorce

Child support is based on a chart, published by the state. The courts have some leeway. But in practice, child support is a predictable number that can be calculated by either party. The final number is based on the income of both spouses and who is the primary residential parent (primary custody).

Category: Divorce

Florida has strong legal mechanisms for enforcing child support. The enforcing spouse must file a motion to place the non-paying party in contempt of court. After a court grants this motion, a variety of enforcement tools are available. Some enforcement measures include jail, suspension of driver licenses, and suspension of professional or trade licenses.

Category: Divorce

Alimony is difficult to predict. While there are no exact guidelines for alimony in Florida law, the law list factors a judge must consider. The most important issues the court will consider are:

  • The lifestyle the couple had prior to the divorce. If possible, a court will divide assets and future income in a way that allows both spouses to continue their lifestyle.
  • The length of the marriage. If the marriage is under 7 years, it is considered short term and alimony is much less likely. A marriage over 14 years will normally justify alimony. Marriages that lasted between the two numbers can go either way. The length of the marriage is only one issue. The judge will consider all of the issues before deciding.
  • The ability of one spouse to pay money and the need of the other spouse. The court will look at your ability to work, whether you worked in the past, and how much you earned. Other issues may be important such as special needs of children and if those needs interfere with work. The court will also look to see if you purposely became unemployed or are earning less due to your own lack of effort.
  • The amount of property to be divided. If a spouse gets a significant settlement that provides enough money to support their lifestyle, the possibility of alimony is reduced.
  • Men versus women: Contrary to popular opinion, there is no legal preference if you are a man or woman. Either spouse can seek alimony. Courts are supposed to make decisions without regard to gender. But as you know, reality frequently conflicts with the rules. The bottom line, women still receive some preference for alimony.
Category: Divorce

The house is up for grabs - equally to both spouses. But the situation changes if their are minor children. A strong preference of the courts is to allow minor children to remain in the marital home. In practical terms that means whoever gets custody gets the house.

Category: Divorce

You must go to the local courthouse and see the clerk of court. The clerk will give you a document to fill out, called a Petition for and Injunction Against Domestic Violence. A Judge will look at your petition within the next few hours and sign it if you are actually in danger. After the Judge's signature, the Domestic Violence Injunction is active. The court will schedule a hearing two weeks in the future. You must attend that hearing if you wish the Injunction to remain in effect. The person whom the Injunction is against gets a chance to appear and fight the injunction.

Category: Divorce

Auto Accidents

See your doctor and document the entire situation by making daily notes of the effects of your injuries. Also report the accident to the DMV and never admit responsibility. Finally, contact an Haverman Law Firm attorney who can collect evidence regarding your case and prepare to defend you if you are determined to be at fault.

Category: Auto Accidents

Almost always the answer is yes. The law says that you have to be able to stop safely if a car stops in front of you.

Category: Auto Accidents

You should always see a doctor after an accident even if you’re not feeling pain right away. Be sure to document when you noticed the pain and when you went to the doctor.

Category: Auto Accidents

It is in your best interest to hire an attorney. Contact Haverman Law Firm today to discuss your case.

Category: Auto Accidents

Often times a person’s personal assets will come into play in a case such as this. An attorney knows the law surrounding automobiles and insurance, and can advise you on your rights in this situation. Contact Haverman Law Firm today.

Category: Auto Accidents

Often times, yes, to a certain amount and then they will get reimbursed once the case is complete.

Category: Auto Accidents

Check your insurance policy; many will have a clause that allows you to rent a car. Be sure to track the expense involved as this is considered a cost that you suffered.

Category: Auto Accidents

The award is directly related to the injuries incurred.

Category: Auto Accidents

No. Tell the insurance company that you’ll get back to them. In the meantime, contact an attorney immediately. Often times an insurance company will offer a minimal amount of money in return for your signature stating that you won’t sue them. Never take an insurance check without first consulting an attorney.

Category: Auto Accidents

Normally, in cases such as these, you don’t pay the attorney any money until, and if, you win your case. If you do win, they are likely to request 33% of the settlement.

Category: Auto Accidents

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider causes injury or death to a patient by failing to act within the applicable standard of care. In other words, a physician or other health care provider commits medical malpractice and is negligent when he or she fails to act reasonably under the circumstances and the unreasonable conduct causes harm.

  • They did not get clear permission before operating.
  • They did make the correct diagnosis.
  • They did not perform the operation properly.
  • They did not anticipate a problem in which they should have.

In determining whether a medical practitioner made a mistake, the court will consider what reasonable, prudent medical practitioners would have done in the same situation. If the medical practitioners did not meet that standard, they could be found negligent.

A medication error is defined as "... any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm, while the medication is in the control of the health care professional, patient, or consumer. Such events may be related to professional practice, health care products, procedures, and systems including: prescribing; order communication; product labeling, packaging and nomenclature; compounding; dispensing; distribution; administration; education; monitoring; and use".

A jury will consider testimony by experts--usually other doctors, who will testify whether they believe your physician's actions followed standard medical practice or fell below the accepted standard of care. In deciding whether your heart surgeon was negligent, for example, a jury will rely on expert testimony to determine what a competent heart surgeon would have done under the same or similar circumstances.

It is common practice in hospitals for patients to sign a form giving the doctor their consent, or approval, to perform surgery. In the form, the patient usually consents to the specific surgery as well as to any other procedures that might become necessary. Before you sign it, your doctor should give you a full description of the surgery and the risks involved, and the ramifications of not getting such treatment. If you can prove that your physician misrepresented or failed to adequately inform you of the risks and benefits before surgery, your consent may be invalid.

Contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at the Haverman Law Firm. Tell the attorney exactly what happened to you, from the first time you visited your doctor through your last contact. What were the circumstances surrounding your illness or injury? How did your doctor treat it? What did your doctor tell you about your treatment? Did you follow your doctor's instructions? What happened to you? Answers to these and other relevant questions become important if you think your doctor may have committed malpractice.

Do I have a malpractice case? In general, there are no guarantees of medical results. You would have to show an injury or damages that resulted from the doctor's deviation from the appropriate standard of care for your condition.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you to determine if your case has merit. Many mistakes are simply that, but if your doctor's mistake was the result of negligence or failure to meet the expected standard of care, then the answer may be yes. Damages may be recoverable for you under medical malpractice laws.

Wrongful Death

In general terms, a wrongful death claim refers to a cause of action that may be brought by certain family members of a decedent whose death was precipitated by the wrongful conduct of another. The wrongful act that resulted in death may have been intentional, reckless, or negligent. In cases where a dangerous product caused the death, it may not be necessary to show wrongful conduct in order to recover.

Category: Wrongful Death

A surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse, the children may bring the death claim. If there is neither a surviving spouse or surviving children, the parents of the decedent may pursue the wrongful death claim. Absent a surviving spouse, surviving children, and surviving parents, the administrator of the decedent's estate can sue on behalf of the estate.

Category: Wrongful Death

Yes, even if the decedent never held a job, they may have contributed in some other way to the family. A good example of such a decedent is a housewife, who contributes services, guidance and nurturing to her family. These contributions are quantifiable as "pecuniary losses" in a wrongful death action.

Category: Wrongful Death

Yes, in addition to the wrongful death, a decedent's family may recover damages for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured prior to death.

Category: Wrongful Death

It depends on whether a person dies as a result of injuries from the accident or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of those injuries, that person's heirs may recover money through a lawsuit. If a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person's estate.

Category: Wrongful Death

Normally, the following are recoverable:

  • expenses associated with the death (medical & funeral);
  • loss of victim's anticipated earnings;
  • loss of victim’s benefits (pension, medical coverage, etc.);
  • loss of inheritance;
  • pain and suffering of the survivors; and
  • the loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors.
Category: Wrongful Death

A criminal case arises when the government seeks to punish an individual for an act that has been classified as a crime. A civil case, on the other hand, usually has to do with a dispute over the rights and duties that individuals and organizations legally owe to each other. The burden of proof is higher in a criminal case, and the penalty imposed is a criminal sanction, whereas, in a civil case, the defendant will typically have a monetary judgment entered against him/her.

Category: Wrongful Death

Given that wrongful death claims and survival actions generally involve a variety of complex legal issues, the first step is to consult an attorney. An attorney should be consulted as soon as reasonably possible because there are statutes of limitations and possibly other critical deadlines that may impact the case.

Category: Wrongful Death

Many attorneys will agree to handle wrongful death cases and survival actions on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that the attorney will not charge an hourly rate for his or her services, but instead will be paid a percentage of the recovery in the event of a settlement or judgment.

Category: Wrongful Death

The vast majority of all cases, including wrongful death cases, are settled prior to trial. Some cases are settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit, while others are settled during litigation or even on the "steps of the courthouse" just before trial. A wrongful death case, if litigated to trial, could last a number of years. One who pursues a wrongful death case should understand from the outset that a quick resolution cannot be guaranteed.

Category: Wrongful Death

 

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