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:
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:
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 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
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765