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How to Determine How Much a Personal Injury Case is Worth in Florida

According to some insurance reporting, the average reported settlement for auto accident injury cases was $24,000 in 2013. Another study found an average compensation of $52,900. However, each case is unique and there are several factors determine how much you could recover from your injury case.

Factors in Calculating a Personal Injury Claim

While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for calculating what a personal injury case is worth, there are some common factors that are considered in valuing claims. There are both economic and non-economic damages you might face from an accident. Economic damages include the things that are easier to put a specific price on, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Possible future medical bills
  • Lost income from missed work
  • Loss of earning capacity if you can no longer work
  • Property damage
  • Your pain and suffering
  • Insurance coverage & limits
  • Where the injury or accident took place

Personal injury claims may also consider non-economic damages, which are less quantifiable. Pain and suffering, reduced quality of life following the accident, loss of consortium if your spouse died as a result of the accident. Loss of consortium basically means loss of companionship, love, and support of the other person.

The severity of injuries and the degree to which the person who caused the accident acted negligently are also considered when calculating a personal injury claim. Generally, the more severe the injuries and the longer the medical treatment, the higher the claim for damages.

This Case Worth Formula May Help

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. Certainly, various conditions help increase or reduce settlements too. If you’re interested in recovering maximum compensation, please keep reading.

First, How Were You Hurt?

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.

How Were You Treated for Your Injuries?

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:

  • Did you need an ambulance?
  • Did you receive treatment in the emergency room and released, or were you hospitalized?
  • Did you need surgery?

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.

How Much Did Treatment Cost?

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.
Include:

  • Ambulance or EMT fees
  • Emergency room service
  • Prescriptions
  • Doctor visits
  • Medical equipment (like crutches or a removable cast)
  • Mileage between your home, doctor, and pharmacy
  • Rehab Services
  • In-Home Care
  • Follow-Up Treatment

Will You Need Future Care?

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:

  • Physical therapy & rehabilitation
  • Corrective or reconstructive surgery
  • Additional or recurrent hospitalization
  • Outpatient specialized care, such as dialysis
  • Mental health counseling
  • Prescription medicine
  • Medical devices & equipment
  • Medical tests and scans
  • Any follow-up care as determined by your medical team

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.

Do You Have Health Insurance?

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.

What if I Do Not Have Health Insurance?

If you don’t have health insurance to help pay for your medical bills, you can ask for reimbursement for your medical care. After all, you wouldn’t have to pay for an emergency room or doctor’s visit if it weren’t for the car accident.

What if I Do Have Health Insurance?

If you do have health insurance, you can ask for reimbursement for your deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.

Anything that you have to pay for related to your accident injuries could be added to your claim.

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.

What are Your State’s Insurance & Tort Limits?

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.

Do Damage Caps Apply?

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.

What Are Your Other Losses?

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 Equal Specific Economic Losses

Special damages, also called ‘economic damages,’ are easily calculable with receipts, pay stubs, and invoices.

For example:

  • Hospital bills
  • Doctor bills
  • Prescription medicine
  • Crutches or other medical equipment
  • Mileage between your home, doctor, and pharmacy
  • Health insurance deductibles
  • Car rental
  • Lost or damaged property

General Damages are Non-Economic Losses

General damages are the non-economic losses that follow a car accident or other personal injury. They are sometimes called emotional damages.

For example:

  • Physical Pain and Suffering
  • Mental Pain and anguish
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of companionship and support
  • Loss of career

“Pain and suffering” is a blanket term for physical and emotional distress caused by your injuries.

Other Accident Costs to Consider

Car Repairs or Replacement

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).

Towing Services

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.

Preferred Body Shops

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.

Do I Have To Get an Estimate for Car Repairs?

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.

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.

Car Rental or Other Transportation

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.

What if Some Personal Items Were Damaged?

Any personal property that was lost or damaged because of the crash should be reimbursed, such as:

  • Cell phones
  • Purses, backpacks, briefcases, or luggage
  • Computers and tablets
  • Dashboard-mounted navigational devices
  • Purchases that were in the car or trunk

What if My Car Is Totaled?

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.

Other Personal Property Damage

Any personal property lost or damaged because of the crash could be reimbursed, such as:

  • Cell phones
  • Purses, backpacks, briefcases, or luggage
  • Computers and tablets
  • Dashboard-mounted navigational devices
  • Purchases that were in the car or trunk

Will You Need Home Modifications?

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.

Have You Lost Pay for Missed Workdays?

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.

  • Use a calendar to keep track of missed workdays.
  • Keep your pay stub, paycheck, or direct deposit to show how much income you have lost.

Will Your Injuries Prevent Future Earnings?

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.

What if You Have to Change Jobs?

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.

What’s Your Pain and Suffering Worth?

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.

Now, Do You Share Any Blame?

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.

For example:

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.

How Can You Get a Bigger Payout?

To recover maximum compensation from your case, you must have proof that:

  • You are injured
  • You incurred financial and emotional losses from your injuries
  • The other party is 100% responsible

Why Do I Have To See a Doctor?

Getting medical treatment for car accident injuries is a critical factor in determining the value of your case.

  • You have proof that you are injured because a medical professional diagnosed you and documented your injuries. Your injuries are real; a licensed professional has acknowledged, documented, and supported this fact.
  • Your case is generally worth more when your injuries are extensive, severe, require surgery, or have a prolonged recovery period. You won’t know how extensive or severe your injuries are until you are examined.
  • Your medical visit will prove the cause of your injuries. Insurance companies and the court need proof that the accident caused you to suffer injuries.
  • Your pain and suffering are tied to your injuries. The court assumes that a broken leg causes more emotional distress than a sprained ankle.

If you have not received medical treatment yet, please do so right away. Florida insurance laws require you to seek medical care within 14 days of the accident, or you jeopardize your claim.

What About My Future Medical Bills?

You can also ask for compensation for all future and foreseeable medical care related to your accident injuries. You might need medical care to treat your injuries or associated medical conditions depending on your specific situation.

Future medical expenses might include:

  • Physical therapy & rehabilitation
  • Corrective or reconstructive surgery
  • Mental health counseling
  • Prescription medicine
  • Medical devices & equipment, such as a wheelchair
  • Follow up care
  • Medical tests and scans

What if I Need Life Care Services?

Suppose you suffered a catastrophic injury – such as a traumatic brain injury – resulting in permanent physical or cognitive impairment. In that case, you might need life care services.

Depending on the nature, extent, and severity of your injuries, you might need someone to:

  • Drive you to your doctor’s appointments, pharmacy, and grocery store
  • Perform housekeeping or maintenance
  • Take care of your children if you cannot
  • Modify or renovate your home to fit a wheelchair

What Damages Do I Have?

There are generally two kinds of damages you could recover: special and general.

Special damages are specific economic losses, like:

  • Hospital bills
  • Doctor bills
  • Prescription medicine
  • Crutches or other medical equipment
  • Mileage between your home, doctor, and pharmacy
  • Lost pay based on your take-home salary
  • Car repairs
  • Rental cars
  • Health insurance deductibles
  • Modifications to your home to accommodate a wheelchair
  • Lost or damaged property
  • Reduced earning capacity

Special damages are easily calculable with receipts, pay stubs, and invoices.

General damages are emotional losses, like:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental pain and anguish
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of companionship and support
  • Loss of career

Pain and suffering” is a blanket term for physical and emotional distress caused by your injuries.

How Do I Figure Out Pain and Suffering?

Pain and suffering are more difficult to calculate than other damages. One way to calculate pain and suffering is the multiplier system.

The court considers your special damages and then multiplies 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 are expected to make a full recovery, the court uses a lower number.

Who Pays for My Lost Workdays?

If you cannot work because of your car accident injuries, keep track of how many days you have missed. Lost wages due to injury is money you deserve to get back.

  • Use a calendar to keep track of missed workdays
  • Keep your pay stub, paycheck, or direct deposit to show how much income you have lost

In addition to your medical bills, lost wages are essential when determining how much your personal injury case is worth.

What if I Cannot Go Back to My Job?

Any permanent disability or chronic medical condition caused by your accident injuries affects your lifetime earning potential.

When you cannot work full-time or at all, you also lose benefits, annuities, paid leave – everything that a healthy worker would receive.
Even if you qualify for Social Security disability or workers’ compensation disability, these benefits alone aren’t enough if you cannot earn a living.

What if I Have To Change Careers?

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.

What if I Didn’t Cause the Accident?

Insurance companies and the court want to know who caused the accident, so they know who pays your bills and other losses.

For example, you slip, fall, and break your leg at a restaurant because a server didn’t wipe up a spill. The court looks at the evidence – wet floor – and concludes that the restaurant should pay your medical bills, lost pay, and other expenses. Ideally, you pay nothing out-of-pocket because the other party is to blame.

Florida Car Accidents Are Different From Other Injury Cases

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 for your medical care if an uninsured driver caused the accident, or a hit-and-run driver fled the scene.

If Florida Is ‘No-Fault’, Why Does Liability Matter in My Case?

Your PIP pays for the first $10,000 in medical bills. If your injuries are severe or extensive, your medical bills will quickly exhaust your PIP.

“No-fault” doesn’t mean the responsible person is off the hook. When your medical expenses are more than $10,000, your case is worth more. You must show that the other party is responsible, or you probably can’t collect the additional compensation you need for medical bills.

When you prove the other party is at fault, you could:

  • File a third-party insurance claim against the driver’s bodily injury insurance
  • File a personal injury lawsuit against the driver
  • File a claim with the driver’s boss if they crashed into you with a company or commercial vehicle
  • File a claim with a bar or restaurant that overserved a drunk driver

Does My Settlement Decrease if I’m Liable Too?

If the court decides that you are responsible for some portion of the accident, you could receive less than 100% of the settlement.

After calculating your injuries, damages, and pain and suffering, the court deducts a portion of your compensation if you played a part in the accident. Whatever percentage is your fault will be deducted from any payout.

For example:

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% responsible for failing to stop and running into your car.

How Do I Figure Out What My Case Is Worth?

Insurance companies and the court have a general formula to assign a value to your case.

Personal Injury Case Worth Formula

Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain & Suffering = $ – % of Your Liability = Total Case Value

Example:
Medical Bills = $50,000
Lost Wages = $10,000
Pain and Suffering = $40,000
% of Your Liability = 10%
$100,000 – $10,000 = $90,000

Do I Need a Lawyer?

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 a 2017 Martindale-Nolo study, hiring a personal injury lawyer leads to significantly larger settlements.

  • Ninety percent of respondents with legal representation received a settlement, compared to about half who proceeded independently.
  • Individuals with legal representation received an average settlement of $77,600 compared to an average of $17,600 for people without a lawyer.
  • Individuals with legal representation still pocketed more money even after paying lawyer fees.

Still Have Questions? Get a Free Consultation Today

You could recover compensation for injuries and damages caused by someone else. Call a Florida personal injury attorney of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. at 954-212-9030 for a free, no-risk consultation today. You pay nothing unless and until he recovers compensation on your behalf.

Attorney David I. Fuchs
Author

Attorney David I. Fuchs

Date
Every day that goes by costs you more.
Let us help put a stop to that. Contact us today for a free consultation.

In addition to a free consultation, we’ll help cover the cost of your car repairs and provide you with a rental at no cost to you. We’ll put a hold on your medical bills to stop them from piling up on the kitchen table. And most importantly, we’ll find those at fault for your car accident injury and make them pay for the damages lost. Call a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer today to maximize the potential of your case.