How Much Is My Car Accident Lawsuit Worth?

March 16, 2015 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
How Much Is My Car Accident Lawsuit Worth?

Car Accident Lawsuit Infographic

When it comes to recovering for losses caused by someone else's negligence, this question is often asked with little patience. Put quite bluntly, victims of negligence often times just want a straightforward answer; a ballpark estimate to what they could be looking to receive in terms of monetary compensation for their personal injuries caused by the alleged liable party. However, the point that many people fail to grasp is that every case is incomparably unique. The very first thing that should be solidified before an injured party goes around seeking a case estimate is whether there is a case at all. It's a bad idea to assume you've got a case already and fall under the impression that you're entitled to compensation and you'll eventually receive it. Unfortunately, with the way tort law is structured, some cases stand no chance in a court of law. However, liable parties may be willing to avoid frivolous lawsuits through the means of a settlement agreement. Determining how much you could receive through a settlement is a nearly identical topic discussed separately. If you've come to the conclusion that you do indeed have a legitimate case, and you're willing to take legal action against a civil wrongdoer(s), now's around the time where asking that golden question is slightly more acceptable, but even still difficult to answer. If you're eager for an estimate, asking an experienced attorney who has personally dealt with cases similar to your own is the best way to go, but they're all likely to tell you the same thing: your case will need to be evaluated, your losses will need to be calculated, and your proof will be questioned. Be wary though, when you compare your case to the verdicts of other similar cases, you could be bringing your hopes up. Your case could be nearly identical to another highly-compensated plaintiff's case, yet not even make it to trial. However, you could also short yourself, agreeing to a stingy settlement under the belief that you're coming out on top. In the end however, it comes down to the mere fact that people want to have some sort of number to base their decisions off of. For that simple reason, here are the key economic aspects of a case that will help pin a value on your own.  Analyzing your role in the accident  First, the accident as a whole must be evaluated. It's important to have at least an idea which actions were made by each of the involved parties while the accident took place, and even more important to have a consistent recollection of the events. After all, you personally know best what happened from your own point of view, so take time to consider every moment of the accident and determine who was at fault on your end of the spectrum. When you bring the case forward to an attorney, the only side of the story he or she will initially know is yours. Depending on how prepared you are to bring fourth your case, and how much supporting evidence you have to back up your allegations will help quicken the time it takes to determine liability. As a victim of negligence, when you bring a case forward to an attorney that had nothing to do with the accident, they're basing the case facts on what you tell them. The more that is discovered or explained about the accident, and the more witnesses that explain their view of the accident, the more the power will shift. If the jury finds out you were texting on your phone just moments before the accident, it could bring a party who was initially considered 100% at fault for, say, running a stop sign and crashing into you in the intersection, down to 90%. Now, you'd be considered 10% at fault. Defense attorneys would endlessly argue that any attentive person would have been able to stop and avoid the reckless driver that negligently ran the stop sign in an attempt to save their client some liability. Florida is a pure-comparative negligence state, which means you can always attempt to recover after an accident regardless of how at fault you are. If you're awarded $100,000 as the injured party in the stop sign accident mentioned above, you'll only receive $90,000 of it—10% of the awarded amount would be deducted since that is how much you were at fault for texting and driving. If the power shift is unreasonable, and you're 95% at fault, trying to recover 5% of an award, you're efforts will probably be shot down. Funnily enough, someone somewhere has probably recovered from an accident that another party was only 5% responsible for causing, but it's unlikely. So for this step, you've only got to determine a few things:
  • How did the accident go down?
  • What was your role in the accident?
  • Can you prove that the other party was at fault? 
Examining your damages thoroughly  After you've got an idea of how much of a bad guy you played in the accident, you can start looking at numbers and figuring out exactly what you're recovering for. There's a long list of different injuries and losses that can stem from a personal injury accident of any kind, including economic damages—damages which have a real numeric value that can be calculated and compensated for accordingly—and non-economic damages—simply stated, these damages are just the opposite. These are damages that are hard to put a real value on, but can usually be determined fairly by a jury based on the circumstances. Some examples of both economic and non-economic damages include:
  • Medical Expenses (economic) – Both current and possible future medical expenses can be reasonably calculated based on what procedures have taken place already since the accident (if any), and how much has already been racked up in medical bills.
  • Lost Wages/Loss of Earning Capacity (economic) – This is simply based on how much time off of work you've taken as a direct result to the accident, and how much future time you'll still have to take to recover. Also, if you can no longer be employed in the position that you were previously in due to a debilitating injury caused by the accident, you may be entitled to compensation to make up for the difference in income if you're forced to work a lower-paying job.
  • Pain and Suffering/Loss of Enjoyment of Life (non-economic) – This is always the category which is hardest to put even just an estimate on. For example, if an injury received in the accident left a scar across your face, you may claim that the scar has hindered your progress towards becoming a model. However, you'll sure need some backing to prove that you were on that career path.
  • Loss of Consortium (non-economic) – This is a sensitive topic alone, as it means you've lost the companionship, loving comfort, helping hand, and sexual relationship that was once maintained between yourself and your spouse who was injured as a result of an accident. The complexity of making a loss of consortium claim is what makes it almost essential to speak with a knowledgeable attorney for assistance. 
Factors that will limit your case's worth  After calculating all the numbers, you may think you've got it all figured out, but that's unlikely. First, you've got to consider just how much ammo the defendant has to use against you. While you're out searching for ways to prove that the other party was at fault, they're likely searching for ways to prove that they were not. Also, you've got to consider the fact that many people in Florida carry the minimum policy limits simply because it's required by law. That means there's already a set limit to how much you can recover. While your case may be worth a million bucks, you can't recover that much if the liable party has the minimum $10,000 in coverage and no personal assets to fall back on.  SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN THE CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA FOR FREE As you can see, even when it's put in simple terms, it's never easy to determine beforehand how much your lawsuit is worth. It's best to be proactive, gather solid, tangible supporting evidence and information, and present it to an attorney that is willing to listen and answer any questions to may have. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is dedicated to securing the financial compensation that wrongfully injured parties need and deserve after an accident. Whether it is a slip-and-fall, an automobile accident, or a defective product that leads to your injuries, worrying about how you'll afford the medical expenses is the last thing any victim of negligence wants to be burdened with. For more information on personal injury cases, or to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney regarding your case today for a free consultation and case evaluation, visit our website or dial 727-451-6900. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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