Putting a dollar value on a recent injury isn’t simple or straightforward. Any personal injury attorney who tells you your case is worth a specific amount of money during a free consultation likely isn’t doing their due diligence.
What your personal injury case is worth depends on:
Many people injured in car accidents in Florida don’t receive the tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation they deserve for their injuries. Their inability to get compensation might have nothing to do with the seriousness of their injuries or the facts of their case.
If the person who caused your injuries was uninsured and doesn’t have the assets to pay what they should owe, it may be difficult or even impossible to collect damages. The high rate of uninsured drivers in Florida – more than 20 percent according to recent estimates – is why so many personal injury attorneys and insurance experts recommend buying uninsured motorist coverage.
The easiest damages to calculate are those with a clear cost. Hospitals will give you a bill for emergency room treatment, surgeries and overnight stays. Physical therapists and other rehabilitation specialists will provide invoices for how much your injuries cost to treat. Determining economic damages is straightforward as long as everything gets factored into the ultimate cost of your injuries.
You might not know all of those costs until months or in some cases even years after your injury occurred. That’s one of the reasons so many auto accident injury lawyers recommend speaking with an attorney before you agree to any claim settlement offer from the insurance company.
Any claim settlement you agree to in the days or weeks after your accident likely won’t factor in the longer-term rehabilitation, continuing care or surgical costs you might have in the future.
It’s important to know the totality of those costs before agreeing to any settlement offer made by the insurance company.
Lost wages are another example of damages that can be fairly easily calculated, even if you’re an hourly worker. In most cases your legal team will look at your past pay stubs to determine what your average daily and weekly income is, then multiply that by the number of days or weeks of work you missed.
Calculating lost wages can get a little more complicated when future lost wages or lost earnings potential are factors in your case. Some people who suffer an injury can’t go back to work or will never be able to return to their previous position. They might need to accept lower income employment due to the long-term repercussions of their injuries. Your attorneys should factor that lost earning potential into any settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
One of the more challenging aspects of personal injury case valuation is determining how much compensation is justified for intangible costs like physical pain, emotional trauma and embarrassment. The value of these non-economic damages might be highly dependent on evidence, narratives and testimony.
Personal injury attorneys need to know how to credibly show you are experiencing trauma and pain and clearly demonstrate how the severity of that suffering is negatively affecting your quality of life.
The pain and suffering damages you might be entitled to will likely be based in part on the length of your recovery.
Your attorney and the insurance company might use what’s known as the multiplier method to determine the appropriate level of pain and suffering damages. They will take your economic damages and multiply them by a variable number to determine what would be appropriate for pain and suffering damages. The multiplier might increase based on factors like:
An alternative pain and suffering calculation is the per-day method – or “Per Diem” method. That involves determining a per-day value for your pain and suffering and then multiplying that by the number of days it takes for you to recover.
Some accident injuries, especially those that result in disability, permanent scarring or disfigurement, will never go away. People who suffer those types of injuries should be compensated accordingly.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury in an auto accident, slip and fall or workplace accident, it’s likely worth your time to discuss your options with a personal injury attorney. Lawyers you speak with might not be able to assign a specific dollar value to your injury during your free consultation, but they can at least review the factors that might influence your claim valuation. They may also have past case results from similar types of accidents they can share.