Every single personal injury case is unique. The value of your specific case will depend on the details of your accident. For example, a minor car accident injury might have far less value than a severe slip and fall injury because of Florida’s no-fault auto insurance laws.
The value of your case will also depend on how you handle your claim. Your ability to wait for a good settlement rather than accepting a quick offer will play a role in the final value of your case. Your lawyer’s negotiation and litigation skills could also influence the outcome of your case.
Here are some of the factors that determine how much your personal injury case is worth.
What Damages Can You Recover in Injury Cases?
When someone’s negligent or intentional actions injure you, the law entitles you to seek compensation for your damages. These damages include economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include all of the financial losses you incur due to an accident.
Some examples of economic damages include:
Your damages include the past and future medical expenses that arise from your injuries. These expenses account for the costs of:
- Doctor’s visits
- Physical therapy
- Mental health counseling
For past medical expenses, you will use your medical bills to prove your damages. For future medical expenses, you will probably need an opinion letter from your doctor explaining the medical treatment you will need to recover from your injuries.
Your doctor might restrict your activities while you recover from your injuries. In these cases, you can claim compensation for your lost income.
If your injuries force you to change jobs or quit your career, you can also claim compensation for your diminished earning capacity.
Suppose that you suffered a back injury in a motorcycle accident caused by a driver who negligently ran a red light. Your inability to sit for long periods of time due to your back injury might force you to quit your job and seek alternate employment.
If your new job pays less than your old job, your damages can include the difference in pay.
Your injuries will impact your life in many ways. Non-economic damages include all of the losses that you cannot quantify financially.
Some examples of non-economic damages include:
Physical pain will change your life. Pain could cause you to lose sleep. It could affect your ability to participate in hobbies and sports. It could even lead to depression.
Your damages should include compensation for pain. To prove losses due to pain, you will need medical records and prescriptions that document your painful conditions.
Mental anguish can also arise after an accident. Your injuries might cause you anxiety over your ability to work and earn a living. You might experience depression over your inability to engage in sports or other activities with your family members and friends.
Economic damages cover the cost of treatment and medication for mental and emotional conditions that arise from your accident. Non-economic damages focus on the diminishment in your quality of life that stems from your mental anguish.
Physical injuries cause many inconveniences. You might lose the ability to:
- Take care of your daily needs
You can still recover non-economic damages even if you recover from your injuries and you only experienced temporary inconveniences.
What Type of Case Do You Have?
In most situations, your case type will not affect the value of your claim. Your damages control its worth. But Florida law treats two types of injuries differently from others.
The Value of Car Accident Cases
Florida law uses a no-fault auto insurance system. The value of your car accident case will vary depending on whether your injuries meet certain thresholds.
For cases with medical expenses and lost income under $10,000, you must deal with your own auto insurer. In these cases, you cannot sue the at-fault driver, and you cannot recover non-economic damages. Instead, you can only seek economic damages through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy.
If you suffer a permanent injury, Florida law releases you from the no-fault system. This means that you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for both economic and non-economic damages.
The Value of Workplace Injury Cases
Another area where Florida law can impact the value of a case is workplace injuries.
For most workplace injuries, Florida law requires you to seek compensation under the workers’ compensation system. Under this system, you receive full medical benefits but only partial income benefits. Moreover, the workers’ comp system does not allow you to recover non-economic damages.
If you can prove that your injuries resulted from the negligence of a third party, you can file a lawsuit against that party. For example, if your safety harness malfunctioned and you suffered an injury in a fall, you might have a claim against the harness manufacturer.
How Do You Prove Liability in Injury Cases?
The value of your case also depends on your ability to prove liability. Liability affects your case value in a few ways.
First, if you cannot prove a person or business caused your injuries, you cannot recover damages. For example, if your injuries resulted from a tree falling on your house during a hurricane, you might have no one to sue for your injuries.
On the other hand, suppose your landlord knew the tree was rotted and needed removal. You could sue your landlord for your injuries because the landlord failed to remedy a hazardous condition.
Second, if you share liability for an accident, a judge or claims adjuster can reduce your damages under Florida’s comparative negligence statute.
Thus, if you collide with a speeding driver, you might share in the liability if you were texting at the time of the accident. If a jury or claims adjuster assigns you 15% of the blame, you can only recover 85% of your damages.
Getting Fair Value for Your Injury Case
To determine the value of your injury case, you should consider talking to an injury lawyer. An experienced injury lawyer can evaluate your losses and estimate the likelihood of recovering compensation for them. A lawyer can also assess liability in the case and whether you bear partial responsibility for the accident.