When we are contacted by a prospective client who has been injured, one of the first questions we usually receive is “How much is my case worth?” We understand why: when you are seriously injured through someone else’s negligence, the first thing that can come to mind is financial security through compensation and getting a definitive answer allows you to plan for the road ahead. However, if you’re looking for a specific answer, you’re going to be disappointed: it’s nearly impossible to tell exactly how much a case is worth from the first consultation. This is because each case is as unique as the person who is bringing it to us, including different circumstances, different injuries, and different consequences that may occur as a result.
However, you can start figuring out a rough estimate for your case’s value on your own or with the assistance of an attorney by learning what types of damages apply to your claim and how much you have lost as a result of them. Let’s look further at the different types of damages.
Personal injury suits are centered on obtaining compensation for quantifiable losses sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. These losses are recovered as “compensatory damages,” and many of them have a specific dollar value that can be proven through documentation. These include:
- Medical treatment costs: Ambulance rides, hospital stays, x-rays, medications, and other treatments you need in order to recover from your accident. All medical bills sustained as a result of your accident are considered damages.
- Lost income: When you’re injured or staying in the hospital, you likely are not able to continue working, so you’ll probably lose out on income you would have otherwise received. Your attorney will help you determine your “loss of earning capacity,” which you can then recover as damages from your claim.
- Property damage: How badly was your car damaged in the accident? Is it a complete and total loss, or can it be fixed and reasonably work again? In either case, this damage has a financial cost and you can reclaim it along with losses from your injuries.
- Pain and suffering: You can recover compensation for any pain you experienced as a result of the accident, including ongoing pain after the fact. This is not directly quantifiable, however, so it’s best that you discuss this provision with your attorney to come to an ideal value.
- Loss of consortium: Unfortunately, some accidents can affect a victim’s relationship with their spouse. As a result, the injured party can seek loss of consortium damages, which are often paid directly to the affected family members.
This second type of damages, punitive damages, are not guaranteed in a personal injury case, and in fact are not given out all that often. These damages are a tool that personal injury judges have at their disposal to punish those who act with reckless disregard for safety by punishing them where it can really hurt: in the pocketbook. While the injury victim does receive these damages, they are designed to ensure the defendant in your case does not repeat their mistake again.
As your attorney, we always try to obtain these damages whenever possible, but the fact of the matter is they’re actually exceedingly rare, so it’s best to temper your expectations. If your injury was truly an accident and efforts were made to prevent it, odds are you probably won’t receive punitive damages.
Your case’s value could be impacted by additional factors as well. Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” state, so your ability to recover damages will be impacted by the amount you are deemed to be at fault for the accident that caused your injuries.
Let’s look at an example. Say you are injured in a car accident, and the investigation rules that you are 20% at fault because the hood of your car was over the limit line and protruding slightly into an intersection when a reckless driver struck you. You are still able to pursue compensation for damages, but your award or settlement will be reduced by 20% because of your own level of fault in the accident.
You also are required to have your injuries that occur as a result of the accident treated and diagnosed as soon as possible. Essentially, if you sit back and let your injuries get worse by letting them go untreated in an effort to claim more damages, the exact opposite will actually happen—your final award will be dramatically reduced.No matter what kind of accident you are in, it’s strongly advised you speak with a Martin County personal injury lawyer about your case as soon as possible! Call Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC today by dialing 866-675-4427 and ask to receive a free case evaluation!