The simple answer is it depends. But the most instrumental factors that determine how much your case is worth are:
Certainly, various conditions help increase or reduce settlements too. If you’re interested in recovering maximum compensation, please keep reading.
Your injuries play an essential role in the value of your case, and so does how those injuries happen. How they happen matters because the type of accident determines the law, code, or statute that applies and it also dictates the type of insurance policy that can be used to pay for the verdict or settlement.
For example, an injury claim that results from a car crash between two vehicles will involve the rules set forth in the Florida Motor Vehicle code and individual car insurance policies of those involved. Comparatively, a slip and fall at a retail store would involve a commercial insurance policy and premise liability laws.
While car accidents are the leading accident involving injury cases, there are many others:
Generally, serious accidents create severe injuries that add up to more significant damages. A crash involving an 18-wheeler truck typically results in more significant injuries and more financial losses than a slip and fall. These losses are the damages you may be entitled to via insurance claim or lawsuit.
The medical treatment you receive directly relates to the medical bills and other expenses you’ll incur from the accident. Given the ever-rising cost of healthcare, your medical bills represent the single most significant financial loss related to an injury.
Whiplash and soft tissue injuries, while painful likely won’t result in expensive surgery or home renovations. But serious enough, car crashes could mean being transported by ambulance and, in some circumstances, air-lifted to the nearest hospital.
People with less severe injuries might go to a walk-in clinic or family physician.
If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following, your case value is probably higher:
Trying to add everything up?
Remember, you have the right to ask for a copy of your diagnosis, test results, X-rays, and all billing documents related to your accident.
Keep all receipts, bills, and invoices related to your injuries and care. You don’t want any expenses to slip through the cracks, so keep scrupulous records or ask for help documenting your medical treatment.
If you have health insurance, you can ask for reimbursement for your deductible and out-of-pocket expenses. This compensation includes any doctors or specialists who are out of your network.
Public and private hospitals cannot refuse emergency treatment regardless of their insurance status. If you don’t have health insurance, you can tell the hospital billing department that you plan to seek compensation. Hospitals are usually willing to accept partial or hold off on payment while an accident claim is processed.
In addition to the medical care you’ve already received, you should try to think ahead. You might need surgery in a year or another treatment for injuries and associated medical conditions that stem from your current situation.
Future medical expenses might include:
Insurance companies will not volunteer to pay for future medical care. They want you to settle without it. You need to seek this compensation while pursuing other damages because agreements are usually final. You could be leaving money on the table.
While every U.S. state mandates auto insurance, the discrepancies between what you can recover from state to state in way of compensation can vary by a considerable amount.
For instance, Florida mandates drivers carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (more on this later) and makes uninsured or underinsured coverage optional. But states like Connecticut make personal injury protection an optional insurance item but requires $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
If your accident occurred in Florida, your own policy could potentially cover up to $10,0000 plus medical bills regardless of who caused the accident. You’ll have to pursue a claim for other damages as well as against the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
On the other hand, you’re in a better position in Connecticut after an accident involving an uninsured driver. In Florida, if you don’t have this type of coverage, your options become more limited.
You can view every state’s insurance requirements here.
Likewise with insurance coverage, what you can reasonably expect in a court award or verdict after an injury can fluctuate from state to state. These damage caps in turn will influence what insurance companies offer during settlement negotiations. Essentially, if state law only allows a certain amount to be paid if the matter went all the way through a trial, they obviously won’t offer more than the capped amount.
For instance in Florida personal injury cases, damage caps (for now) have been deemed unconstitutional so there is no current limit on what someone can recover for the losses they incurred. However, Florida does limit putative damages that are awarded to punish someone for egregious behavior or negligence.
In these severe cases, punitive damages cannot exceed three times the amount of compensatory damages or the sum of $500,000 for each defendant with a few exceptions if the at-fault party was motivated by financial gain or intended to harm the victim in the first place.
If you were injured in Illinois, no damage caps apply. This includes punitive damages, meant to punish someone for wrongdoing. However, the court does have the discretion to say whether a just award for punitive damages is excessive.
Since you only have one chance to recover compensation and the victim of someone’s negligence, you should go after full compensation for all the ways your life is affected by your injuries.
Your recoverable losses are usually divided into special and general damages.
Special damages, also called ‘economic damages,’ are easily calculable with receipts, pay stubs, and invoices.
General damages are the non-economic losses that follow a car accident or other personal injury. They are sometimes called emotional damages.
“Pain and suffering” is a blanket term for physical and emotional distress caused by your injuries.
Most insurance policies cover damage and repairs to your car. Although many people carry higher coverage, Florida requires a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL).
If you can’t drive your car, body shops sometimes offer towing services. You can also call a tow truck – be sure to add this receipt to your paperwork pile.
Insurance companies usually have a relationship with several preferred body shops and mechanics. The insurance company should give you a list of repair shops near you. Although you choose which shop fixes your car, you will need an estimate before they can start repairs.
Sometimes getting an estimate is simply a matter of taking pictures of your car using your cell phone and uploading them to the insurance adjuster. Other times, the insurance company sends a local adjuster to write an estimate.
Don’t forget about the cost of renting a car if your vehicle is in the shop. Save all receipts for car rentals. If you prefer to use Uber, Lyft, or the bus, keep those receipts.
Some car accidents cause so much damage to your car that it simply is not safe or cost-effective to repair. When the cost to repair your vehicle is more than it is worth, the insurance company should offer fair market value.
Fair market value is the price you could reasonably expect to receive, depending on your car’s age, model, and condition immediately before the accident.
Any personal property lost or damaged because of the crash could be reimbursed, such as:
If your injuries affect your mobility or cause ambulatory issues, you might need to modify your home. These modifications might include wheelchair ramps, installing accessible sinks, or adding safety rails in the bathroom.
The average cost to buy and install safety rails (or grab bars) is $248. You should not have to pay for modifications if the other party caused the accident and your injuries.
Any lost wages is money you deserve to get back. If you cannot work because of your car accident injuries, keep track of how many days you have missed.
When injuries cause permanent disability or a chronic medical condition, you might not be able to return to your job. Consider the impact of a back injury on a construction worker or a hairdresser with a hand injury. You must include the loss of your income and benefits, annuities, paid leave – everything a healthy worker would receive.
Even if you qualify for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation disability, these benefits alone aren’t enough to support your family when you cannot earn a living.
Depending on your background, skills, and training, you might need vocational training or additional education to get a job that you can perform, given your limitations.
You could be entitled to compensation to pay for the necessary training so you can be self-sufficient.
Next to your medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, Pain and Suffering represents a large part of how much your injury case is worth.
Pain and Suffering are more difficult to calculate than other damages and open to interpretation. But one way to estimate pain and suffering damages is the multiplier system.
The court considers your special damages (medical bills, lost pay, etc.) and then multiples them by a number from 1.5 to 5. When you have severe injuries or a poor prognosis, the court multiplies your special damages by a high number to Calculate Pain and Suffering. If you have mild injuries and expect to make a full recovery, the court uses a lower number.
Once you have your economic damages, property damages, and Pain and Suffering, you have a good idea of how much your injury case is worth. If the other driver is 100 percent liable for the accident, you should recover 100% of your case’s worth.
If you were traveling in excess of the posted speed limit yourself at the time of the accident. In that case, you can still recover compensation for your injuries even if you share some of the blame. Florida is a comparative negligence state. Your payment is reduced according to your degree of fault after calculating your injuries, damages, and Pain and Suffering.
The other driver rear-ends you at a stoplight. You are legally stopped, but one of your brake lights is broken. The court determines that you are responsible for 10% of the accident because you didn’t have two functioning brake lights. The other driver is 90% at fault for failing to stop and running into your car. In this example, 10% is deducted from your settlement or award.
Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain & Suffering = $ – % Your Liability = Total Case Value
EXAMPLE of Car Accident Case Worth Formula
Medical Bills: $50,000
Lost Wages: $10,000
Pain and Suffering: $40,000
Total Damages: $100,000
% of Your Liability = 10%
Your Case Is Worth: $90,000 ($100,000 – 10,000 = $90,000)
The above formula gives you a rough idea of how much your case is worth.
However, formulas and online calculators are simplistic. They do not consider the many factors that influence the value of your specific injury case. Each case is different and often complex.
Many things influence how much your personal injury case is worth, from how much insurance the other party carries to where your accident occurred. You should consider these factors to prepare for a more accurate estimate.
Some car accidents involve more than two drivers, and thus, more than two insurance policies. The same is true in other accidents, There may be more than one business or individual that contributed to your fall, dog bite, or other accident. They all should have separate coverage and levels of liability.
Remember, insurance policies have differing coverage, requirements, and policy limits. The insurance company will not pay you more than the policy limit. Still, it is possible to seek additional compensation from another liable party.
You have greater negotiating power and a better chance at recovering a fair settlement if you can prove the other driver or individual was negligent. Whether it’s in a car or another incident, negligence is a legal term that someone failed to uphold their duty of care to take the same action as any reasonable person in similar circumstances.
For example, you can establish negligence if the other driver failed a roadside breathalyzer test. Drunk driving is negligent behavior, as is distracted driving, reckless driving, and different types of dangerous behavior. Examples not related to car accidents can include improper training of employees, failing to keep a property safe, or ignoring a hazard.
Florida car accidents have different liability requirements than a slip and fall accident, construction accident, or other types of injury. Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car accidents.
All licensed drivers in Florida must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that covers the first $10,000 in medical bills – regardless of who caused the accident. PIP also pays if an uninsured driver caused the accident or a hit-and-run driver fled the scene.
In addition to PIP, Florida drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL).
A policy limit is the highest amount that an insurer pays on a covered claim. Your PIP pays for the first $10,000 in medical bills (no matter who caused the accident). If your injuries are severe or extensive, your medical bills will quickly exhaust your PIP. When this happens, you can seek compensation from the other driver’s PIP.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, there may be other insurance policies that apply to your claim.
Was the at-fault driver working or driving a company car? You could file a claim against the employer’s policy. If there was another motorist involved, their policy could apply to your case. You could even seek damages from a restaurant or bar that overserved the drunk driver who hit you.
The stronger your case, the better your chance at recovering compensation. To make a strong case and recover maximum compensation, you need evidence, clear lines of liability, and a compelling argument that articulates all the ways an injury impacted your life.
Insurance companies make it challenging to collect on covered claims. After all, insurers make money on premiums and lose money on settlements and verdicts. They often dispute the extent, nature, and validity of your injuries. They will almost certainly argue that you are not as hurt as you claim or that someone else (even you) is to blame to reduce your payout.
To avoid getting your claim denied or disputed, you need as much evidence as possible.
Your evidence might consist of:
Also, injury cases can be worth more with a detailed claim that includes supporting evidence, documentation, and expert testimony to strengthen your position.
Insurance companies can use your medical history or preexisting conditions against you. They may try to rationalize that your injury occurred before the accident and offer you less than you deserve.
One way to potentially avoid the insurance company from using a preexisting condition against you is to seek medical attention immediately after the crash. Any delay in medical care could be a red flag and give the insurance company a reason to downplay or deny your claim.
Talk to a lawyer before answering any questions or making a statement to the insurance company. You weaken your case when you speak to an adjuster about your potential fault, sign a release, or tell them that you feel fine – only to experience pain later. Your injury case could be worth more if you discuss your options with an attorney first.
Insurance companies and attorneys know that location plays a part in how much your injury case is worth. Big cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale tend to award higher jury verdicts than in smaller communities. Insurance companies know jurisdiction matters and make settlement offers with that mindset.
An insurance company is more willing to negotiate a larger settlement if they fear going to court will cost them more.
Keep in mind, injury cases are based on several facts, including the extent of your injuries, damages, and liability. You could recover substantial compensation, regardless of where you live.
You are not legally required to hire a lawyer to help you pursue compensation. However, hiring an attorney often brings a higher settlement than people without legal representation.
According to one study, hiring a personal injury lawyer leads to significantly larger settlements.
While we hope this gives you a good start, to find out what YOUR personal injury case is worth, contact attorney David I. Fuchs.
You pay nothing unless and until we recover compensation. Call (954) 568-3636 for your free, no-obligation consult.