- Who Will You Settle With?
- How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Florida?
- The Role of an Insurance Adjuster
- Factors Involved in an Injury Settlement
- What Is the Average Settlement Amount?
- Calculating an Injury Settlement Amount
- Document Your Special Damages
- Support Your General Damages
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Realistic Assessment of Your Case
- Factors affecting settlement amounts
- When to Take Further Legal Action
- Attorneys Boost the Settlement Amount
A settlement is an amount offered to you following an injury to avoid going to court. This is favorable to many people as the court system can be long and complicated. However, if you do decide to agree on a settlement, then you need to make sure you get what you deserve. Personal injury claims are complicated, and there are many factors involved in the settlement you will be offered.
There is no simple answer to what is a good amount of money for a personal injury case, a settlement will be dependent on your wages, the damage to your vehicle, and any time you have missed from work.
Florida is a no-fault state. That means that when you are injured in a car accident, whether or not it was your fault, the primary responsibility for payment comes from your own insurance company.
Insurance companies are driven by profit and will be aiming to pay out as little as possible. Therefore, having a strong claim doesn’t guarantee that you will walk away with a high settlement amount. That is why you need representation by a law firm that has experience dealing with car insurance companies.
Our injury lawyers are available 24 hours a day to offer information and advice on injury cases. So contact us today for a free consultation. Our number is 941-444-4444.
Who Will You Settle With?
According to Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. That means that the medical bills and any other expenses that occur as a result of an auto accident are covered by your own insurance, regardless of fault. However, any additional property damage, you can claim from the other driver’s insurance. Every driver in Florida must have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,00 of property damage liability.
Following your accident, you should speak to your own insurance as soon as possible.
How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Florida?
In a settlement, you agree to a payment amount from the insurance company or the other driver, and in exchange, you give up your right to pursue any further legal action. The amount offered will depend upon the evidence supporting your case. For this reason, police reports, medical records, and witness statements are essential.
By law, insurance firms shouldn’t engage in deceptive or unfair practices such as failing to pay out for personal injury claims or failing to investigate properly. However, their primary job is to look out for the interests of the company, not you.
To settle a personal injury case, the insurance company will ask you to sign a release that stops you from pursuing any further legal action. However, you should not do so until you are satisfied that the settlement offered covers your damages and includes future medical treatments as estimated by your physician.
The Role of an Insurance Adjuster
An insurance adjuster, sometimes referred to as a claim’s adjuster, will be responsible for reviewing your case and offering a settlement. They do this by speaking to the parties involved and looking at any supporting documentation.
It is their job to save the insurance company that they work for money. This means that they will usually be trying to offer you a settlement that is less, then the claim is worth.
An insurance adjuster may try to contact you from your own insurance company or from the other driver’s insurance firm. Either way, both insurance firms will have the goal of saving money. Because Florida is a no-fault state, your own insurance is initially responsible for your injury settlements, even if you were not at fault.
You should always get advice from a personal injury lawyer before giving information to an insurance adjuster. If they contact you, then you should only give minimal details such as your name and where the accident occurred. They may try to trick you into saying something which puts you at fault or diminishes your injuries. They might even ask to record you, which you should not agree to under any circumstances.
You should also be aware that, while you do have to tell your own insurance firm about the auto accident, you are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance firm.
Factors Involved in an Injury Settlement
Following a car accident, your settlement will be calculated by adding up your damages. Damages are losses that have occurred as a result of the auto accident; this includes:
- The cost of past, present, and future medical bills.
- Transport to and from the hospital.
- Car repairs.
- Repair or replacement of any damaged property.
- Physical and mental pain and suffering.
- Replacement services for anything you are no longer able to do, such as childcare, gardening, and dog walking.
- Lost wages, vacation days, and bonuses.
- Burial expenses following any fatalities.
Insurance companies place damages into two main categories:
Special Damages – often referred to as ‘specials’ are tangible costs like lost wages, medical bills, and out of pocket expenses. These are measured with receipts, invoices, and wage statements.
General Damages – are paid in addition to hard costs and are designed to compensate for things such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment. There are no objective measures to calculate the cost of general damages. But a good personal injury lawyer will fight for you to receive the compensation your claim deserves.
What Is the Average Settlement Amount?
The average personal injury settlement following an auto accident varies widely. It could be between $3,000 and $75,000. However, many fall in between these very low and very high amounts, and some outliers go for a lot more. These usually involve unique circumstances such as extraordinary or Punitive Damages.
Calculating an Injury Settlement Amount
The most common method used to calculate what a personal injury settlement should be worth is to add up the special damages and then add one to five times that amount for your pain and suffering, depending on the severity.
It can be challenging to fight for a fair personal injury settlement amount for your general damages. To do this, you need help from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Document Your Special Damages
Without documentation for your medical bills, car repair costs, or any other hard expenses, you won’t get far with your personal injury claim. How much you are offered in a settlement relies heavily upon these documents.
You must also seek medical treatment as soon as possible following an accident. If you fail to seek medical treatment within 14 days, then your personal injury claim can be denied. You will have a stronger case if you seek medical treatment quickly.
To receive personal injury settlements that are in line with the value of your medical bills, you must have details of your expenses, even if your health insurance covered them. You should always request your medical records. Easily overlooked costs might include:
- CT scans, MRI tests, and X-Rays are often done at a separate facility and have a separate bill and record from the doctor who analyzed the results.
- Emergency room treatment usually comes with a separate bill from the emergency room physician.
- Ambulance and rescue fees.
- The cost of slings, crutches, or other medical equipment.
Support Your General Damages
Medical records will also help you to justify the general damages related to your pain and suffering. General damages are more difficult to quantify and include things such as,
- Any distress over not being able to lift your own body or hold your child.
- The distress caused by the inability to do things that you usually would, such as running or gardening.
- Fear of losing your job because you can’t work.
- Humiliation from needing help for daily tasks.
- Inability to sleep because of pain or trauma as a result of the accident.
- Sadness over missing special events or holidays with your family and friends.
When it comes to a settlement in a personal injury claim, general damages are often overlooked. Your personal injury lawyer can help you to fight for your general damages and can help you to write a written statement about your pain and suffering.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Personal injury settlements include soft tissue injuries such as damage to tendons, muscles, and ligaments, abrasions, and wounds, or herniated or protruding disks. They usually cause swelling and bruising and can result in a lot of pain and discomfort.
Because X-Rays or scanners cannot easily verify soft injuries, adjusters tend to be skeptical and will try to diminish your suffering.
It is common for adjusters to challenge claims with:
- Chiropractic treatments that go on for more than a few weeks.
- Long term physical therapy.
- Complaints of pain or injury that seem out of proportion to the severity of the accident.
- Having a history of similar injuries or any pre-existing conditions.
You can overcome these arguments with well-organized paperwork and representation from a car accident attorney from The Law Place.
Realistic Assessment of Your Case
In order to ensure the compensation that you deserve, you must be realistic about your claim. That doesn’t mean settling for less than what you’re entitled to claim. It means avoiding aiming for an amount that is too high, as this could damage your case.
An experienced personal injury attorney, such as those found at The Law Place, will be able to assess your claim and get an idea of what it is worth.
No two car accidents or personal injury cases are the same, so don’t let an adjuster convince you that the insurance firm settles all similar cases the same way. You have a right to have your case investigated so that you can get the compensation that you deserve.
Factors affecting settlement amounts
The severity of your injuries will usually have the most significant impact on the amount of money that you settle for in the end. The more serious your injuries, the higher the settlement. Sounds simple right? However, in reality, lots of other factors come into play such as,
- Liability – Whether you can prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident.
- Area – The adjuster may offer more to settle out of court if you live in an area where juries usually favor the victim.
- Comparative fault rule – In Florida, your claim could be reduced due to comparative fault. It could be argued that you have a share of the blame in the accident, and the amount you are offered can reflect this. For example, if you were 40% at fault, you would get 40% of the settlement amount.
- Excessive medical expenses – Insurance companies only have to compensate you for reasonable medical expenses. They could argue that some treatments or appointments are excessive.
- Interpleaders – If several people were injured in the road accident, there might not be enough liability coverage to pay the bills. The insurance firm can, therefore, file an ‘interpleader’ asking the court to decide how to distribute the available money.
- Insurance limits – The limit of your insurance policy could also be a factor. In Florida, you are required to have a minimum of $100,000 coverage for personal injury claims. If your claim is worth more then this, then you may want to consider going to court rather then settling for a lower amount.
When to Take Further Legal Action
You may decide to take further legal action on your personal injury case if the settlement being offered to you is insufficient. However, because Florida is a no-fault state, you can only do this in the event of a severe accident. Furthermore, the statute of limitations means that you must take this action within four years.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you decide whether you should settle your claim or take further legal action.
Attorneys Boost the Settlement Amount
Having an experienced car accident attorney on your side can make sure that you get the compensation you deserve. Insurance adjusters work daily to secure settlement amounts that are worth less than a case is worth. Therefore, you may need help from something with as much experience with auto accident cases in Florida as they do.
Your personal injury claim will have a lot of factors that affect your settlement. Collecting evidence and taking the right steps can feel like a massive burden, especially when you are dealing with your own injuries. It is, therefore, a good idea to get the right help.
At The Law Place, we have over 70 years of combined experience with personal injury cases. We work as a team to ensure that your settlement can benefit from all of our combined knowledge. You can call us at any time of day or night, so contact us today for a free consultation.
Our number is 941-444-4444.