A traumatic personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence can happen to anyone. You don’t have to be injured in a traffic accident. You could sustain a serious dog bite, slip on a wet floor at a restaurant, or sustain a severe injury from a faulty power tool or home appliance.
What’s your recourse here in Florida if you’re injured by someone else’s negligence? What kind of compensation can injury victims receive in this state, and what factors determine that amount? Can a car accident attorney help?
Anyone can be unexpectedly injured by negligence, so keep reading – you’ll learn the answers to these questions and more.
WHAT DOCUMENTS WILL YOU NEED TO SUPPORT AN INJURY CLAIM?
As you might imagine, a number of variables must be taken into account when placing a dollar value on a personal injury claim.
For starters, you’ll need receipts for medical bills, test results, and testimony or a statement from your doctor to prove that the amount you’re claiming is reasonable and fair. Your documentable losses – your medical bills and lost income, for example – are called “economic” damages.
“Non-economic” damages for physical suffering and pain arising from a personal injury are also usually awarded in Florida personal injury cases, but emotional and psychological damages are considerably more challenging to prove.
HOW ARE MOST PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED?
Most personal injury claims in this state are settled when attorneys for both sides negotiate privately and outside of the courtroom, but when a claim can’t be settled, it goes to trial.
Jurors in Florida personal injury trials are allowed to use their own reason and common sense when deciding on non-economic damages. Jury awards in Florida personal injury trials vary considerably.
When determining the final compensation amount that an injury victim will receive, juries may take into account the victim’s age, the type and extent of the injury, and the victim’s prospects for returning to full health.
“Pain and suffering” is the legal term that includes both physical pain and emotional damages such as grief, distress, and what’s called “the loss of the enjoyment of life.”
HOW DO INSURANCE COMPANIES DECIDE AN INJURY CLAIM’S VALUE?
However, insurance companies offer little – when they offer anything at all – for pain and suffering after a serious accident. How do insurance companies decide what they will pay for an accident victim’s pain and suffering?
Computer programs now tell insurance companies what your pain and suffering is worth. Many companies today use software that considers the same factors a personal injury trial jury considers: the victim’s age, the type of injury, and the prospects for recovery.
Insurance companies presume that some types of medical treatment are worth more than other types of treatment. An injury treated by a medical doctor, for example, is presumably more serious – and thus worth more – than an injury treated by a chiropractor or an acupuncturist.
An insurance company also considers the extent and duration of treatment. A company will not pay for treatment that it believes is excessive or unwarranted.
HOW DO PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS DETERMINE A CLAIM’S VALUE?
Personal injury lawyers, however, use two other methods to calculate a just and fair figure for pain and suffering compensation:
1. Some lawyers multiply the economic damages by a number from one to five, depending on the extent and severity of the injury. If a broken leg requires $3000 of medical care, a lawyer might assign the injury “a three,” so $9,000 will be sought for pain and suffering.
2. Other attorneys prefer a per diem (“per day”) calculation that is usually based on the victim’s earnings. This approach presumes that the effort of coping with injury-related pain and suffering is at least as arduous as the effort involved with working every day.
An insurance company is neither required nor expected to use either of the two approaches used by personal injury lawyers to calculate pain and suffering damages.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE THAT YOU STRUGGLE WITH PAIN AND SUFFERING?
Of course, a purported personal injury victim will have to offer proof to support a claim for pain and suffering. Medical records, medical test results, and testimony or a statement from your doctor are the minimal evidence that a personal injury victim will need to provide.
Medical evidence is even stronger if you can add photos or statements from friends and family members regarding your pain and suffering.
If you are injured in south Florida in a traffic collision or in any other type of accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is imperative to discuss your legal rights and options – as quickly as possible – with a qualified Miami personal injury attorney.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT AUTO ACCIDENTS IN FLORIDA?
The attorney will investigate your claim, protect your legal rights, and explain how the law applies in your own situation. A personal injury lawyer is a trained and experienced negotiator who will handle all discussions and negotiations with an insurance company on your behalf.
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, and if your personal injury happens in a traffic crash, you must obtain a medical exam within 14 days, or your auto insurance carrier may not be obligated to pay your injury claim.
The 14-day deadline is not the only barrier to compensation for a traffic-related personal injury in Florida.
Unless a victim is diagnosed with what Florida law defines as an emergency medical condition (“EMC”), that victim cannot recover more than $2,500 in PIP (personal injury protection) insurance coverage.
HOW CAN AN INJURY ATTORNEY HELP?
After any personal injury caused by negligence, refer any calls or inquiries from an insurance company to your accident attorney.
Don’t sign any document, make or record any statement, or accept any quick settlement offer. A quick settlement offer will invariably be a low offer, and if you accept it, you’ll lose the right to pursue any additional compensation.
Instead of battling an insurance company, focus on regaining your health, and tell the insurance company to speak with your lawyer.
SO … HOW MUCH CAN A VICTIM OF NEGLIGENCE RECEIVE?
If your case cannot be settled out-of-court, a personal injury attorney will advocate aggressively on your behalf at trial and bring your case to its best possible final resolution.
The amount of compensation that a victim of negligence receives in Florida depends on a number of variables, but the most important factor is having is a savvy and experienced personal injury lawyer fighting for your rights.
If you’ve been injured by negligence in south Florida, pick up a phone and get that legal help right now.