An injury caused by someone else’s negligence can happen to anyone. You could be hurt in a traffic crash, slip on a slick floor at a supermarket, sustain a dog bite, or suffer an injury in a swimming pool accident. If it happens to you, speak at once to a Miami personal injury attorney.
What recourse do you have if you’re injured by someone else’s negligence? How much compensation can an injured victim of negligence realistically hope to receive? You’ll learn the answers by reading this brief discussion of compensation in Florida personal injury cases.
If you’re injured in south Florida because another person was negligent in a traffic accident or some other type of accident, ask a Miami personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options, which may include filing a personal injury claim against whoever injured you.
What Are Your Rights as a Victim of Negligence?
In Florida, the injured victims of negligence are entitled by law to be compensated for medical expenses, lost earnings, personal pain and suffering, and all other accident-related damages and losses.
How is the amount of compensation that a negligence victim is entitled to determined? Every case is unique. You and your injury attorney will calculate your quantifiable monetary losses and then add an appropriate amount for your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
You’ll need receipts and other documentation to prove the amount you are demanding is reasonable and just. Of course, if you’ve been catastrophically injured or permanently disabled, it can be difficult to predict what type of medical care you may need in the years to come.
What Compensation Can Victims of Negligence Receive?
Nevertheless, the injured victims of negligence who file personal injury claims usually demand and receive these “compensatory” damages:
1. Medical care: Personal injury victims who prevail with an injury claim are almost always reimbursed for whatever medical care they receive. They are also usually compensated for their projected future medical expenses.
2. Lost earnings: Injury victims with successful claims are usually compensated for wages lost because of their personal injury or injuries and for any lost future earning capacity.
3. Personal pain and suffering: When a victim has suffered disfigurement, scarring, amputation, and/or psychological damage, the victim may be compensated for the damage and for the effects of that damage.
4. Loss of consortium: Compensation may be paid when marital intimacy is impaired by a negligence-related injury. “Loss of parental society” claims can compensate minors for the loss of parental support and companionship caused by negligence-related injuries.
What is Considered When Non-Monetary Damages Are Determined?
It can be difficult to arrive at a dollar figure for compensatory damages that do not arise from quantifiable monetary losses – damages for suffering, pain, or the loss of consortium, for example. Florida courts consider factors that include:
1. the injury victim’s age and general health prior to being injured
2. the degree, severity, and ongoing consequences of the victim’s injury or injuries
3. the cost of injury-related expenses until full recovery (or over the victim’s lifetime)
How is a Figure for Non-Monetary Damages Determined?
Attorneys and courts in Florida typically use a “multiplier” formula for non-economic damages. The economic damages (monetary damages that you can prove with documentation) are multiplied by a number from one to five depending on the severity of the injury or injuries.
If you have sustained a catastrophic or permanent injury such as a severe spinal cord or traumatic brain injury, and your doctor and hospital bills come to $100,000, your attorney will multiply that amount by five and seek $500,000 of compensation for your personal pain and suffering.
Another formula sometimes used is the “per diem” formula. A dollar figure is assigned for each day based on your average earnings. If you earn $150 a day, and your pain and suffering endure for one hundred days, your attorney will seek $15,000 for your personal pain and suffering.
The formula that your south Florida personal injury attorney uses to determine how much compensation you should seek for pain and suffering will depend on the details of your case and the extent of your injuries.
Is There a Compensation Limit?
When injuries cause long-term damage or permanent disability, an injured victim of negligence will need the maximum available compensation amount. Florida does not cap compensation for pain and suffering, but your attorney will tell you what you can reasonably expect.
“Comparative” negligence is the principle that governs personal injury cases in Florida, so if you are partially responsible for your own personal injury or injuries, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your own contributory negligence. How does that work?
Let’s say you are disabled by a reckless, intoxicated driver who runs a stop sign. The damages are $1,000,000. If you were speeding at the time, even slightly, a court may find that you were fifteen percent responsible, and your damages would be reduced by that percentage to $850,000.
When Should You Speak to an Attorney?
In most personal injury cases in Florida, the statute of limitations gives the injured victims of negligence four years from the date of the injury to launch the legal process. Do not wait four years – or even four weeks – to speak with a Miami personal injury attorney.
If you’ve been injured by negligence, put the case in your attorney’s hands as quickly as possible after you’ve been seen and examined by a medical professional. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will receive the full compensation amount that you need.
If there’s physical evidence in the case – such as skid marks in a traffic accident – your attorney needs to examine that evidence while it’s fresh. If there were eyewitnesses to the accident that injured you, your attorney needs to speak with them before their recollections begin to fade.
What Will You Pay an Attorney?
In the long run, what you pay a personal injury attorney will be a percentage of the compensation you receive, but it costs nothing to begin the legal process. Your first legal consultation is provided without cost or obligation.
If you and your attorney agree to proceed with a personal injury claim, you pay no fee to that attorney until – and unless – that attorney acquires an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
There is no reason why you should not put the law to work for you, and there is no reason to wait. If you are injured by negligence in Florida, compensation is your legal right. So is a good personal injury attorney’s help.