Fiol Law Group|Posted in Lawsuits on February 10, 2020
A personal injury accident can mean many losses for you as a survivor. A serious accident could inflict significant pain, suffering, medical bills and lost wages. A successful claim could force the at-fault party to pay for your economic and noneconomic damages. The average personal injury settlement in Florida ranges between $3,000 and $75,000. This is a broad range, however, and it is important to remember that every personal injury claim is unique. Some claimants have received millions of dollars from insurance settlements and jury verdicts, for example, to make up for catastrophic injuries and permanent losses. While reading about averages could give you an idea of the scope of most settlements, a consultation with an experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer is the only way to accurately assess the value of your particular claim.
Factors Affecting Personal Injury Settlements in Florida
Before you can get an idea of what a defendant might owe after an accident in Florida, you need to understand how insurance companies and courtrooms assess award amounts. Many different factors could affect the perceived value of your claim. An insurance company may review the facts of your case for insights as to how much the injury has impacted you and your family. Then, the insurance company will accept or deny your claim and may offer a settlement.
- The severity of your injuries
- Your future health prognosis
- If you will have a long-term disability
- The cost of your medical care
- How much you spent out of pocket on accident reparations
- The extent of property damage
- Your age, health and income
- Whether your family also suffered losses
- The limits of the insurance policy
- Your comparative negligence
If the insurance company offers a personal injury settlement, it will base the value on how much it thinks you deserve for your tangible and intangible losses. Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to shortchange claimants, offering less money for victims’ injuries so the company can save. Whether or not you hire an attorney could also affect your personal injury settlement. A lawyer could use proven negotiation tactics to force the insurance company to treat your claim more fairly. An accident lawyer can also give you an accurate estimate of your claim’s value during a free consultation.
Calculating Economic Damages
The law divides your compensatory damages into two main categories: economic and noneconomic. Both are important to you as a claimant. Economic damages refer to the financial losses you sustained because of the accident and injury. These could be expenses your health or auto insurance companies have covered or that you have paid out of pocket. Calculate your economic damages by adding up all receipts and bills related to your accident.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Travel costs
- Property repairs
- Lost wages
- Estimated future lost earnings
- Legal fees
Once you have an understanding of what you have already spent on the accident, estimate your related future losses. If you have a permanent disability, for example, calculate a lifetime of lost or diminished wages, as well as all future medical expenses you will need to pay. A personal injury lawyer can help you accurately project your future expenses to calculate a reasonable demand for your economic damages.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering in Florida
Next, calculate the other half of your compensatory damages: noneconomic. This can include any intangible losses connected to your accident, including physical pain and suffering, lost quality of life, humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, discomfort, and loss of consortium. You could be eligible to recover both past and future noneconomic damages. Since these damages do not have a monetary value, they can be difficult to calculate for a personal injury settlement demand.
You can estimate the value of your noneconomic damages using the most common method: the Multiplier Method. This method takes the total amount of your economic damages and multiplies it by a number based on the severity and extent of your injuries. If you have a catastrophic injury or lost a loved one, for example, you might have a higher multiplier than if you only have minor injuries. Most juries use a range of one to five. If your economic damage calculation came to $95,000, for instance, and you have injuries in the medium category (a multiplier of 3), you may be eligible for about $285,000 in noneconomic damages ($95,000×3).
Calculating Punitive Damages in Florida
The other damage category besides compensatory is punitive. Compensatory damages aim to relieve the plaintiff, while punitive damages aim to punish the defendant. It can be hard to estimate potential punitive damages since they are rare and up to the judge’s discretion. A judge will only award punitive damages in Florida in cases involving a defendant’s intentional misconduct or gross negligence. The cap on punitive damage awards in Florida is $500,000 or three times the number of compensatory damages (whichever is greater), in most cases.
Personal Injury Laws in Florida
You cannot accurately calculate the potential value of a personal injury settlement without understanding Florida’s related laws. Some state statutes may alter what your case is worth. Florida Statute 627.736, for instance, lists the required auto insurance benefits for drivers in the state. It makes it mandatory to carry certain amounts that will provide coverage if you get into an auto accident, whether you were at fault or not. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning your personal injury protection insurance may limit how much you get from a settlement.
Another important personal injury law is comparative negligence. Florida uses a pure comparative negligence law, meaning an insurance company can reduce your settlement by your percentage of fault for the accident. If an investigation places 25% of fault with you for causing a car accident, for example, your auto insurance company could diminish your recovery by 25%.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Personal Injury Claim
Filing a personal injury claim can provide important financial relief for you as an accident victim in Florida. A successful claim could force the at-fault party to pay for your economic and noneconomic damages.
Looking at averages may not help you understand the true value of your case. Instead, you will need to break down the factors that will affect your personal injury claim with help from an injury attorney in Clearwater or Tampa. Hiring a lawyer to review your case, estimate its value, navigate Florida’s related laws and take over settlement negotiations on your behalf is the best way to get the most out of your personal injury claim in Florida.