Basic Personal Injury Settlement Breakdown: How Much Goes into My Pocket?

How are personal injury settlements paid out? That depends on several factors, including your personal preferences, the opposing party’s financial limitations, and your arrangement with your lawyer. Although it is impossible to know how much your claim is worth without knowing the details of your claim, you can apply some basic principles.

What are the Components of a Florida Personal Injury Claim?

The typical personal injury claim includes compensation demands for:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Property damage;
  • Lost earnings;
  • Out-of-pocket expenses; and
  • Pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering could amount to more than half of the total value of your claim. Once in a while, punitive damages are available. In serious accidents, six- and seven-figure settlements are not unheard of.

How Much to Ask For in a Personal Injury Settlement

Personal injury settlements may arise after car accidents, slip and falls, and other incidents. Whenever you demand compensation for personal injury, you should ask for more than the amount that you believe you deserve. This will give you some bargaining room. Following is a list of some factors that might decrease the net amount you receive.

Medical liens

Your healthcare provider may place a lien on your settlement if you cannot pay your medical expenses as they come due. Your lawyer can help make sure that you are treated fairly. 

Streetwise insurance adjusters

You will probably negotiate against an insurance adjuster. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. They have a thousand tricks up their sleeve to reduce the value of your claim or eliminate it altogether. Fortunately, a good personal injury lawyer is also a professional negotiator. We’ve seen all the tricks before, and we’re not going to fall for a single one of them.

Insurance coverage limits

Insurance policies have limits, and insurance companies are not obligated to pay a claim that exceeds these limits. Florida requires you to carry only $10,000 worth of automobile insurance for personal injury protection (PIP). If you carry only the legal minimum amount, the insurance company will not pay you any more – no matter how serious your injuries are.

Florida’s “pure comparative negligence” system

In many cases, more than one party is responsible for an accident. For example, multiple drivers might be at fault for a car accident. In this situation, Florida applies a “pure comparative negligence” system. 

Under pure comparative negligence, the court will assign a percentage of fault to each party.  Each party (including the victim) is responsible for their share of fault. If you were 30% at fault, for example, you would lose 30% of your damages. The insurance company will try to hold you at least partially responsible for the accident.

Case costs 

Certain case costs will come out of your settlement:

  • Court fees;
  • Investigation expenses;
  • Expert witness fees;
  • Copying expenses;
  • Medical records; and 
  • Postage.

The amount of these costs varies from case to case.

What Percentage Do Lawyers Take?

Most personal injury lawyers charge between 33% and 40% of your compensation. Most personal injury lawyers charge their clients nothing unless they win. Remember that people represented by lawyers typically receive much greater compensation than people who represent themselves. 

If your lawyer can double or triple your compensation amount, you could end up way ahead even after paying your legal fees.

How Are Settlements Paid Out?

Typically, the insurance company will transfer the money to the lawyer’s professional bank account. The lawyer will deduct any applicable fees (legal fees and case costs) and transfer the rest to the client.

The two main ways that defendants or insurance companies pay settlements are lump sum and structured settlements (which are paid in installments). 

A structured settlement might make more sense, for example, if:

  • You doubt your own money management skills; or
  • A large portion of your settlement is taxable, and you wish to structure your settlement in the most tax-efficient manner.

Considering all the potential deductions that could come out of your settlement, you need to demand enough money to leave you with sufficient net compensation. Your lawyer can help you determine the true value of your claim.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Northwest Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyers at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have two convenient locations in Northwest Florida:

Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Fort Walton Beach Office
975 Mar Walt Dr
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
(850) 863-5297

Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys – Destin Office
4507 Furling Ln Suite 214
Destin, FL 32541
(850) 790-0243