After you have sustained an injury in an accident, your first thoughts are likely geared toward your recovery. After that, you may be wondering about pursuing compensation for your injuries, and how much your case would be worth. It’s a fair question, but not one that’s easy to answer.
Many different types of damages may be available in your case. To determine the value of your claim, look at whether each type of damages applies to you. If it does, you determine your losses in that category. The total of your damages is the value of your case. Here’s what you need to know about determining how much your personal injury case is worth.
Economic damages compensate you for your actual, out-of-pocket expenses. This compensation is meant to make you financially whole for your losses. There are a variety of different types of economic damages that might be available to you.
Most personal injury case evaluations start with a review of your medical bills. This can include rehabilitation and therapy. Also, if you undergo treatment for mental health concerns that result from your injury, you can ask the defendant to pay these bills too.
Whether your injuries are minor or severe, there’s a good chance that they’re going to take you away from work for a period of time. When that happens, you can recover for lost wages. This type of recovery applies whether you work for wages or you’re self-employed.
Your injury might stop you from doing things for your family. You may not be able to take care of your home, and you may not be able to care for your children. You can ask for payment from the responsible party to cover these losses.
You may have damage to your vehicle. You may have other damaged property. This type of compensation includes these losses.
In addition to compensation for economic losses, your claim has value for your non-economic losses. This type of recovery compensates you for the anguish that goes along with the injury. Like economic damages, several types of non-economic damages may apply to your case.
An injury is painful, and that suffering has value. Your attorney can help you arrive at a dollar amount to ask for when you request pain and suffering damages. This figure is usually the amount of your economic damages applied to a multiplier.
When you’re hurt, you can’t use part of your body or mind. Maybe you can’t walk the way you used to, or you no longer have full use of your hands. This type of damages is meant to give you something for your loss.
When you suffer an injury, your family suffers too. They have a right to recover for the loss of companionship and enjoyment of life because of your injuries. In Florida, this type of damages is mostly for spouses but may also apply to children.
A physical injury is often also emotionally distressing. When your physical injury causes psychological trauma, you may have a right to recover for the mental anguish. There are specific requirements to meet in order to claim this type of loss.
In addition to damages for your benefit, Florida law sometimes allows you to collect damages in order to punish the other party. This is the case when the other party tries to profit from their wrong actions, or they hurt you intentionally or in a grossly negligent way.
The goal of these damages is to encourage people and corporations to act responsibly. When companies put profit before public safety, punitive damages might be available if people get hurt as a result.
Sometimes, an accident occurs because multiple people act negligently. You might be partially responsible for what happened. When that’s the case, you may still be able to recover for some of your losses. This concept is called comparative fault.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state. When you’re partially to blame for your losses, the jury assigns you a percentage of the blame. Then, the court reduces your damages by the percent that you’re to blame.
For example, consider a scenario where you’re in an auto accident. The other side failed to yield, but you were speeding. The jury determines that you’re 30 percent at fault, and you have damages of $100,000. In that case, you can recover for only $70,000 of your damages. You can’t recover damages for the percent that you’re to blame.
It’s also important to remember that if multiple people act negligently, each person is responsible for paying you for their percent of your losses. That is, if one person is 20 percent responsible and another person is 40 percent responsible, and you have $100,000 in losses, you recover $20,000 from the first person and $40,000 from the second.
Each person is responsible for paying their share. There’s no way to make one person pay for all of the damages if multiple people are to blame. You must collect from each negligent actor for their share of your losses.
You may have heard that Florida law imposes damage caps on certain types of damages. Until recently, Florida limited non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. That is, a victim of medical malpractice couldn’t recover more than $750,000 for things like pain and suffering and emotional distress.
In June 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that these caps were unconstitutional. They said the caps were arbitrary and stated that it was unfair to apply the cap in cases where the victim’s losses are greater than that amount.
Even though the Supreme Court threw out the non-economic damages cap, a cap on punitive damages currently remains on the books. This law limits punitive damages in all cases to three times compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Victims will likely challenge this cap in the future in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to end non-economic damage caps.
Your Tampa personal injury attorney can help you value your damages. Those who choose to pursue their personal injury case without the aid of a well-qualified attorney can miss out on the maximum amount of compensation available in their case.
Jack Bernstein has over 36 years of experience helping victims adequately value their personal injury cases, and fighting for the recovery they deserve. If you have sustained injuries in an accident and are wondering how much compensation you should ask for, call Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys at (813) 333-6666 and schedule your free consultation today.