Frequently Asked Questions

Personal Injury, Motor Vehicle, Cruise Ship, Recreational Boating, and Jet Ski Accident Attorneys Serving Florida.





Below are some frequently asked questions regarding your personal injury claim and fees. If you have any further questions, contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today by calling 305-371-8000. We will be glad to help.

What are my fees?

In personal injury cases, including wrongful death and medical malpractice, fees are on a contingency basis. That is, if you do not receive compensation for your personal injury, we do not charge a fee. All initial consultations are free.

The Florida Bar requires that each Florida lawyer provide you, the client, with a Statement of Client’s Rights, and that you sign the statement indicating you have received it. We provide all of our clients the Statement of Client’s Rights with a written fee agreement.

Can I settle out of court, and what is mediation?

A claim can be settled at any time, including before the suit is filed, after the suit is filed, and, of course, before trial is started. Suits and claims can also be settled during or after trial. Statistically, most cases settle before trial and few ever go to trial. Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey and the legal team at Hickey Law Firm, P.A. can, and do, take cases to trial.

Mediation is an informal procedure where all parties and their lawyers meet in a conference room to attempt to negotiate a settlement. At mediation, a Miami injury lawyer from our firm will make a brief presentation discussing our side of the case with the mediator (usually a retired lawyer or a judge) and, of course, with the lawyer for the other side and his or her representative (usually the insurance company adjuster). The lawyer for the other side will then make a brief presentation about their side of the case. You are required to attend mediation, but you are not required to say anything or to settle.

After the initial presentations are made, the mediator will meet with you and your attorney separately from the other side and their lawyer. The mediator will then discuss the positives and negatives of our case and attempt to persuade us to lower our demand. The mediator will then meet with the other side, also in private, and attempt to persuade them to increase their offer to us. This process can be as short as one hour or can go on for several hours. The court orders that mediation takes place and that you and the other side appear in person at the mediation. The court does not order, however, that the case settle at mediation.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

Every case is at least slightly different. In personal injury cases, you are entitled to compensation for such things as pain and suffering (past and future); lost wages and ability to earn income (past and future); medical expenses (past and future); disfigurement; disability and loss of enjoyment of life (past and future.)

In order to evaluate your personal injury claim, we will have to speak with you and ask you some questions. Some of the questions we will ask are the following (you can speed up the process by providing this information in your e-mail or telephone call):

  • Full name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail
  • Date of birth
  • When did the accident or incident occur (date and time)?
  • Where did the accident happen?
  • Describe what happened and what caused the accident
  • Describe your injuries
  • When and how long were you treated in a hospital or by physicians?
  • Have you had surgery? How many? What kind?
  • What are your medical expenses, including those that have been paid for and those that have not (and what medical expenses do you anticipate having in the future)?
  • Have you lost time from work as a result of your accident? How much in lost wages have you incurred so far? How much in lost wages will you incur in the future?
  • Describe your disabilities and what you can’t do now that you could do before the accident
  • Were you ever treated for this type of injury or problem before this accident?

Still have questions? If so, contact Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation.

What should I do if I have just had an accident?

The bottom line is that you should first get medical care. Your health comes first. Even if you do not have health insurance, go to a hospital and get checked out immediately. After you have sought medical treatment, you should contact an experienced Miami injury lawyer at our firm to learn about your legal rights.

Here are five TIPS about what to do following an accident:

  • Report the accident immediately. If it is a car accident, call the police. If it is an accident at a business or store, tell the manager, or whoever works there, and get their full name and title.
  • Go get medical treatment immediately. Do not try to be your own doctor and think that it can wait. Go to an emergency room at a hospital if you have to.
  • Get the names and contact information of all witnesses to the accident and witnesses to how the scene looked right after it happened.
  • Take photos now. Take photos of the scene and of your injuries. Take these photos as soon after the accident happens as possible. Even if the store takes photographs, you need to take photos or have someone take photos, and right away. Take photos even if the store does; they are not required to give them to you. Also, take photos of your injuries right away and at different intervals, like once a week. The injuries will look different over time. In the case of bruises, they will fade over time but may be evidence of serious internal injury that you cannot see from the outside.
  • CALL US TODAY TOLL FREE AT 305-371-8000. We can help.

We have experience in representing the victims of negligence. Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey represented the cruise lines, railroads and insurance companies for 17 years, and now he represents you, the seriously injured person. Hickey is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and by The Florida Bar. He is a Past President of the Dade County (Miami) Bar Association. Also, he has been recognized by his peers as a “Top Lawyer” by the South Florida Legal Guide in the areas of maritime and personal injury, as a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer Magazine (top 5 percent of lawyers), and as a “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend Magazine (top 1.7 percent of lawyers).

Should I as an accident victim negotiate with the insurance adjuster (or the company, the cruise line or the railroad), and why aren’t they on my side?

No. The insurance adjuster is not on your side. He or she is trained to negotiate, and they know the law. Also, they are removed from the situation and you are not. You are personally involved, and you need to take yourself out of it. Get professional help. Call us. If your case fits the type of cases we take, we will represent you. If not, and if we are able to, we will help you get the lawyer you need.

I had an accident on a cruise ship and I live outside Florida. Don’t I need a lawyer who is here where I live? Don’t I need a lawyer where the cruise ship left from?

You need a lawyer who is where the cruise ship requires you to sue, and you need a maritime attorney who knows the cruise lines. Where your lawyer should be located: Miami.

Cruise tickets have a lot of fine print. In that fine print, it says where you are required to file suit against the cruise lines. (It also says that you have to give them notice within a certain period of time — usually 6 months — and to file suit within a year). For Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, they require that you bring suit in MIAMI. If you are filing suit against a cruise line, you need a Miami maritime lawyer who knows the cruise lines.

Maritime law applies in cruise ship accident and assault cases. We know maritime law. And we know the cruise lines. John H. (Jack) Hickey used to represent the major cruise lines for 17 years. Now he is here for you.

If I have been the victim of a sexual assault on a cruise ship, what do I do and where can I turn?

Here are our 10 TIPS for what to do if you are sexually assaulted onboard a cruise ship:

  1. Report it immediately to the security officer onboard the ship.
  2. Go to the ship’s infirmary immediately for treatment of any physical injuries and to report the incident.
  3. Get the names of all of the crewmembers involved or who were nearby.
  4. Get the full names and all contact information of all passengers with any information.
  5. Report the incident immediately to the FBI. Yes, they do investigate these incidents.
  6. Go immediately to the nearest rape treatment center. Every major hospital has one. The ERs of most hospitals have rules and protocols for treating and testing for rape.
  7. Go immediately to get medical treatment for your physical injuries or problems. This would include a gynecologist, orthopedic surgeon, plastic surgeon and family doctor.
  8. Take photos of any physical injuries or bruises. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
  9. Seek psychological counseling.
  10. CALL US TODAY TOLL FREE AT 305-371-8000. We can help.

We have experience in representing the victims of rape, sexual assault and sexual battery on cruise ships. Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey represented the major cruise lines for 17 years, and now he represents you, the seriously injured person. Hickey is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and by The Florida Bar. He is a Past President of the Dade County (Miami) Bar Association. Also, he has been recognized by his peers as a “Top Lawyer” by the South Florida Legal Guide in the areas of maritime and personal injury, as a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer Magazine (top 5 percent of lawyers), and as a “Legal Elite” by Florida Trend Magazine (top 1.7 percent of lawyers).

Can you tell me how much my case is worth?

No one over the phone can really tell you how much your case is worth. It depends on a whole set of factors. Generally, lawyers and the adjusters for the big companies evaluate a claim based on the liability (i.e., fault) and on damages.

Liability is who and how much the company is at fault and how much you are at fault. The jury in court gets to compare the fault of the company and your fault. Damages usually include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses in the past and in the future
  • Lost income in the past
  • Loss of the ability to earn income in the future
  • Pain and suffering in the past and in the future
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life in the past and in the future
  • Scarring and disfigurement in the past and in the future
  • Disability in the past and in the future
  • Mental anguish in the past and in the future
  • Loss of consortium, that is, the loss of the companionship and affection of a spouse in the past and in the future (this generally is not available in maritime law)

Why should we hire you?

You should hire any attorney only after you have looked at their background, education and experience and, of course, their results. All of this information is located on our website.

Experienced injury lawyer John H. (Jack) Hickey has a unique blend of experience, leadership and results. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading trial attorneys, is a leader in the legal community, and has achieved outstanding results for his clients. You be the judge.

How can I afford an attorney? How do you charge?

Three points:

  • FREE CONSULTATIONS: We offer free consultations about your case. Call us. We like to ask a lot of questions about what happened.
  • NO OBLIGATION. When you call us about your case, you are not committed or obligated in any way. Of course, anything you tell us is strictly confidential even if you never hire us.
  • CONTINGENCY FEES. This is how we charge. If we do not recover, you do not pay. The full terms of all of this are in our fee agreement, which we will give you a copy of and which we can explain to you.

If I call you, are you going to charge me?

No. All consultations are free. Of course, everything you tell us is confidential even if you never hire us.

What do you do after I hire you, and will I be required to do anything for my claim or my lawsuit?

With every case, we have a game plan, a plan of action.

First, we get as much information from you and your family as possible. We do this with a meeting in our office or via a telephone interview with you. We also send you a checklist of things to do and to get us. This is your homework assignment.

Next, we investigate. That may mean that we talk to witnesses, including you and your family and friends. That also may mean getting whatever reports are out there on the incident. We also take photos or have them taken of you and of the scene. Then we get other records, like medical records and bills.

If necessary, we prepare a complaint to file in court.

After that, in the lawsuit, we will send out what is called “discovery” to the other side. Discovery is primarily interrogatories (written questions to be answered under oath), requests to produce (a request for documents and items) and notices of deposition (a notice to the other side that we are going to take the deposition of their representative, which is a sworn statement where the witness, in the presence of his or her attorney, all the attorneys on the case, a court reporter, and sometimes a video camera, answers questions about the case, their involvement and knowledge).

You will be required to participate in discovery as well. You also will have to answer interrogatories, provide documents, give a deposition and go to a doctor hired by the insurance company.

My medical bills are piling up…what do I do about those? Can’t we just send them to the cruise line/insurance company/railroad?

Generally, the company will not pay these, unless there is a settlement or a jury verdict. Unfortunately, you have to deal with them.

How do I get started? What is the first step now?

Call us. We can evaluate your claim. If we do represent you, we will guide you through your case from start to finish. Call us today at 305-371-8000.

What is the statute of limitations and when do I have to act?

Click here for a PDF article about statutes of limitations

I live in New York (or any other state)…can you represent me?

Click here for a PDF article about out of state representation

Are there time limits on when I have to act? What time limits do I have?

There are always time limits and deadlines in the law. This is not legal advice, and the only way we can tell you accurately what your time limits are is to speak with you and learn about your case. However, we want you to know the basics.

When you sue a government or the cruise lines, there are time limits on giving notice of the claim. This notice is given before you file a lawsuit.

There is always a deadline for actually filing a lawsuit. This deadline is called a “statute of limitations.” The deadline, or statute of limitations, usually begins to run from the date of the accident or incident.

For a cruise ship accident, or any accident or incident involving a passenger on a cruise ship, the deadline is one year. For an accident on land, the deadline in Florida usually is four years. For medical malpractice, the deadline is two years. The medical malpractice deadline begins to run from the incident, or from when you, the patient, knew or should have known of the negligence.

You need to hire an attorney well BEFORE these deadlines expire.

I sent a letter to the cruise line or to the store or place where I had my accident. Isn’t that enough to file a claim?

No. It is not enough. It may be good, and it may be required in some instances to give notice or send a letter to someone about their negligence. But it is never enough. Most of the time, such a letter has no legal significance. What counts is filing a lawsuit in the right court. If you file in the wrong court or past the deadline, you have no claim. We know what court is right.

At Hickey Law Firm, P.A., we have skilled staff and experienced attorneys available to assist you. The lead trial lawyer is John H. (Jack) Hickey, who:

  • Has 28 years of experience practicing law
  • Is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Lawyer
  • Is rated A/V by the international legal directory Martindale-Hubbell (the highest rating, achieved by only 5 percent of lawyers)
  • Served as President of the Dade County Bar Association

Hickey represented the cruise lines, railroads and insurance companies for the first 17 years of his practice. For the past 11 years, he has represented the seriously injured against the cruise lines, railroads and insurance companies.

I don’t live in Florida. Can’t I hire a lawyer here and file a lawsuit against the cruise lines where I live?

No. You have to file suit against the cruise lines where the ticket requires you to file. For Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruise Lines, Costa Cruise Lines and some others, the place is Miami, Fla.

Do I have a claim? Do I have a good case?

We can tell you about your case when we talk to you. And we do not charge for consultations. That’s right: ALL CONSULTATIONS ARE FREE.

That is why we say, call toll-free at 305-371-8000 or contact us online.

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