Florida is the fifth-most expensive state for insurance. Because of this, there is a lot more at stake when you get into an accident. Whether you’re a victim of careless driving, a slip-and-fall, or any kind of altercation, you should know what your case is worth.
Personal injury attorneys use various methods to calculate the value of your case. If you are able to get a car accident settlement before it goes to trial, you are awarded the negotiated amount. This amount gets decided between the parties, insurance companies, and attorneys.
If there is no resolution, a judge or jury may weigh in and issue a case value. There are reasons why you should try to settle before going to trial. The time and money invested are usually not worth it.
Besides that, it’s possible that your case for damages may not hold up with a less-experienced jury. There are different values for each type of damage that you should know.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases
Damages won in a case are considered compensation. This means that the monies are intended to compensate for losses endured by the accident. Obviously, money can’t replace everything that is lost, so evaluations must try to reach a fair agreement.
Quantifying property damage, medical bills, and loss of work are all simple math. Doing the math for emotional losses and quality of life requires a bit more creativity. Usually, when there is no real way to evaluate the potential damage caused by the guilty party, previous cases are referenced.
These are the categories of damages and how they are determined:
Loss of Income
If you’re involved in an accident and the other party is at fault, you can claim loss of wages if it prevents you from earning a living. This could mean loss of company vehicle, injuries preventing you from working, and so forth. These damages are determined by how far into the future loss of income will occur.
Any material goods affected by the accident are given a dollar amount. Every piece of property involved in a car accident is included, i.e. clothes, phones, electronics, and etc. You are awarded the current market value of any property loss, not what you paid for it originally.
If your personal injury results in needing medical care, you are entitled to compensation. That includes the initial treatment received and any follow-up care prescribed by medical professionals. The expediency of seeking medical care is important for receiving the maximum settlement.
Pain and Suffering
What qualifies as “pain and suffering” is often misunderstood. This isn’t an opportunity to get paid because you weren’t at fault. It is calculated by the length of time one is saddled with the physical and mental pain as a result of personal injury.
There are two common formulas used to calculate this claim. More on that below.
This type of damages is a lot harder to prove than pain and suffering. It will require independent evaluation by a mental health professional. The emotional distress will need some level of quantifiable evidence.
You could get awarded emotional distress damages if you can prove that your mental state is permanently affected.
Loss of Enjoyment and Consortium
These claims share similar concepts. Loss of enjoyment is very similar to pain and suffering. You can make the claim that you can no longer enjoy activities that you used to before the accident.
Loss of consortium pertains strictly to loss of a romantic relationship. If an injury prevents you from making love or providing for your partner, you can make a claim. There are various laws that pertain to the awarding of damages caused by a loss of consortium.
Some states award damages to the loved ones who are indirectly harmed by a personal injury.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Cases
The value of these damages can increase based on different case factors. The most common factor is when an accident is deemed retaliatory or extremely reckless. If the defendant has a history of careless behavior or a long rap sheet, it can come into play.
It’s possible that the judge may want to make an example out of the case and award punitive damages as punishment. Punitive damages are difficult to make a case for and unless the defendant is wealthy, they may not make it worth pursuing.
Reductions in a Car Accident Settlement
Because you have a personal injury lawyer making a case for you, it doesn’t mean it will hold up in court. In fact, personal injury settlements may get struck down based on the events. If the plaintiff played some part in the accident or neglected to take care of themselves, damages may not get awarded.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
If the defendant can prove that you played a part in the cause of the accident, your settlement may not happen. There is a degree of fault in personal injuries that dictates how much you are entitled to if any. Some states take this a step further by eliminating all settlements if both parties are at fault.
The plaintiff needs to have made a reasonable effort to mitigate the costs associated with their injury. This means seeing a medical professional as soon as possible or repairing damage covered under the insurance plan. If determined that the plaintiff’s condition was worsened due to inaction, their settlement could reduce drastically.
Calculating Pain Suffering
There are two main methods of calculating pain and suffering involve two basic formulas. These are factored against the amount of medical cost and lost wages.
Multiplying the medical costs and lost wages is common among attorneys. They take these totals and multiply them by three, after adding them together. If your bills came to $3,000 and you lost a week’s pay of $1,000, then your total damages would be $4,000×3=$12,000.
This method is less popular among insurance companies, of course. It is an industry standard, but depending on the company and the situation, it may not fly. The answer to the standard multiplier is to use proprietary software to do the math.
This alternative is less transparent and usually works against you. There are too many variables and economic factors used to come up with an agreeable settlement. That’s why many personal injury lawyers will choose the next method.
Daily Rate Method
This method is often seen as a more fair estimate for both parties. Rather than total damage claims and multiply by some arbitrary number, a daily rate is calculated. The daily rate gets determined by an estimated take-home pay.
Now, this may sound like the same thing as lost wages, but it’s not. This figure gets applied to future potential income you will miss because of injury. That means it will get rewarded on the premise of working every day for however long it takes to heal.
If you will never get to return to your job, then the magnitude of the claim increases tremendously. On the other hand, this locks your earning potential in at what you made at the time. It’s worth considering all your options in that case.
Getting The Most Value
There is no magic formula for determining the value of your claim. The best method is a mix of the two main types. You’ll get a clearer picture of what your case’s settlement should look like after considering all the factors.
Also, consider the following:
- How many parties were responsible?
- How many parties were hurt?
- How bad are your injuries?
- Will you require long-term treatment?
- Are you losing employment because of the injury?
- Do you have witnesses on your side?
Ultimately, this is your life that you are trying to quantify in one case. You must fight for your right for proper compensation. The only way to truly get what you deserve is with the help of an experienced accident lawyer.
Learning The Real Value of Your Case
A car accident settlement involves a lot of work and preparation. Settlement value isn’t always black-and-white, there’s lot’s of legal hoops to jump through. The defense is going to use every technicality they can to avoid paying the real value.
You shouldn’t lose sight of the ultimate goal in any personal injury case: full recovery. Not a partial recovery or an okay outcome, but a full and complete return to normalcy. If this accident has removed all possibility of returning to a normal life, that’s where they must pay.
Stay grounded in what is right and what you deserve for their negligence. Then, let the attorneys handle the rest.
Florida Accident Lawyers
Start building your case today with a team of experienced lawyers. Ones that are well versed in Florida personal injury law. First Coast Accident Lawyers know what it takes to win your case fast and to the fullest extent of the law.
Enter negotiations with confidence and solid proof of your damages suffered. If you make the job easy on the judge, you’ll get a fair car accident settlement. Take the first step towards justice today by contacting us for a free consultation.