If you’ve sustained an injury as the result of an accident, you may be wondering, “how much is my personal injury claim worth?” The answer is more complex than you might think. It varies in every case.
It’s an unfortunate fact of life: accidents happen, and sometimes they’re caused by the conduct of another person. Injuries can be mild, such as a twisted ankle or broken bone, or severe, such as paralysis or even death.
Read on for a brief overview of some of the most important areas that affect damage recovery. But remember, only experienced professionals like Fort Walton Beach’s personal injury attorneys at Brannon & Brannon can help you fully understand your rights and maximize recovery in a settlement or lawsuit.
Meet with an Experienced Attorney to Evaluate Your Case
Estimating the value of a potential claim and fighting for recovery are complex matters. You should not—and can not—do it alone. Meeting with an attorney can help you quickly determine your claim’s potential worth and what needs to be done going forward.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. You can use this opportunity to learn more about the attorney and the firm. You’ll be able to ask questions about what to expect from your case.
At your first meeting, you and your attorney will discuss the facts of your case, including:
- What happened
- Who was involved
- The severity of your injuries
- Your prognosis
- How your injuries have affected you and your family
It may involve reviewing any documentation you have, including medical records, driving records, or insurance information.
Not only will this discussion and review of these records help you understand the nature of your case, but it will also help your attorney begin to evaluate how much your personal injury claim is worth and how to proceed.
Again, calculating the monetary recovery for your claim is extremely complex and involves delving into many of the below-mentioned areas of “damages.”
How Are Damages Calculated in a Personal Injury Case?
The following are some of the most common areas of damages that play into calculating the value of your claim. Damages generally fall into two categories—economic and non-economic.
Economic damages cover financial losses incurred as a result of your accident.
Non-economic damages cover less tangible losses, such as emotional trauma or disability caused by the accident. These are the types of losses often thought of as “pain and suffering.”
Notably, you can recover for past, current, and future damages incurred as a result of your injury.
Past Medical Care
Your medical records reveal a history of your care, including all of the billing associated with that care. You may be entitled to reimbursement for your medical bills for the care you needed as a result of your accident, even if health insurance has covered part of the costs.
Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate this complex area of damages, deal with insurance companies, and estimate the final value of your past medical care.
Future Medical Care
Severe accidents can cause long-term injuries or even permanent injuries. For example, medical malpractice cases often result in debilitating and long-lasting pain, which may require ongoing treatment or even around-the-clock care.
A negligently performed surgery could result in nerve damage, loss of feeling, or even paralysis. These types of injuries often require months—if not years—of rehab, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more.
Often, recovering from an accident means taking time off work. For example, you may be bed-bound in a hospital or at home after a car accident. Or you may need to take time off to complete medically necessary physical therapy.
All of the lost time at the office translates into lost wages, and you could be entitled to compensation.
Unfortunately, in many cases, an injury is so severe that it permanently impacts your ability to work or return to work at all. You may be wondering: how can I recover lost wages for future earnings?
This is a nuanced area of damages calculations. Your attorney will work with you to determine exactly how much your future lost wages and benefits are worth to you and your family.
This includes calculating prospective wage or salary increases, promotions, and more. Your attorney may even consult with industry experts (e.g. – economists) to help value your future lost wages and earnings.
Florida Law Allows Recovery for Pain and Suffering
Some injuries cannot be calculated from a medical bill or payroll record.
But just because you’ve gotten medical care does not mean you are whole again. You may have suffered psychological trauma, such as PTSD, related to your injury. You may have developed fear or anxiety as a result of your accident.
How Your Life Has Changed
Your life may have changed in any number of other intangible ways. Drastic changes in how you care for yourself, like bathing, eating, and walking (referred to as activities of daily living), may have been impacted by the accident.
However, any sort of change to your lifestyle could be a potential non-economic loss. If you are no longer able to enjoy the same leisure activities as you did before your accident, your life is not as full or enjoyable. You deserve to be compensated for the loss of that aspect of your life.
Every situation is different. Your attorney will ask you questions about your life before your accident. This will help you determine all of the ways the accident has impacted you.
Has it ruined your future prospects in your career? Has it impacted your ability to take care of your children? Are your family members now taking time to care for you?
In fact, there are experts who can help calculate a monetary value for how your life will be different going forward. These experts are called “life care planners.” Expert personal injury attorneys should have substantial experience working with life care planners.
Life care planners will examine everything from the cost of future care, including home care/nursing visits, medical supplies, and more, to things like home modifications or vehicle modifications required as a result of your injury.
Loss of Consortium
It’s important to remember that injuries don’t occur in a vacuum. Other people can be significantly affected, including your family. Florida law accounts for this. Your family members can bring claims against the person or entity responsible for your accident. In Florida, a spouse may be entitled to compensation for “loss of consortium” after a spouse’s injury or death.
In layman’s terms, loss of consortium means a spouse may be entitled to monetary damages as a result of a loss of the companionship and support of their loved one.
Florida law also allows for a loss of parental consortium, a claim that can be brought by the injured party’s child (an “unmarried dependent”).
How Do Florida Laws Affect the Value of My Claim?
Florida case law and statutory law may impact your case and recovery.
Florida follows a doctrine called “comparative negligence.” Under this theory, if your own conduct in any way caused or contributed to the accident, you might not get full compensation.
Under the law, your award will be reduced by the portion of the accident determined to be caused by your own negligence. An experienced lawyer can help fight back against unfair blame.
Statute of Limitations
Further, you don’t want to miss any deadlines. Generally, Florida’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is four years from the date of the accident. Specific circumstances could shorten or lengthen the deadline for filing your lawsuit.
At first glance, this might seem like a lot of time. However, waiting too long can negatively impact your future recovery or result in a waiver of recovery.
For example, many insurance companies have stringent deadlines for benefits claims. An attorney can help you quickly evaluate and act. This ensures that you don’t miss out on any due compensation.
Don’t wait to seek legal advice from a reputable attorney. Often, the longer time passes, the harder it’ll be to obtain evidence to help your case.
Promptly speaking to an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases will ensure that your and any witness’ recollection of events is properly documented. Acting quickly will help you obtain and preserve other necessary evidence to support your claim.
Speak With Our Attorneys If You’ve Been Injured in Northwest Florida
If you’ve sustained catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one in a fatal accident, your personal injury case could be worth six or seven figures. Waiting to speak to an expert can only hurt the credibility of your case and recovery.
There’s no risk to you in scheduling a 100% free consultation with an experienced Fort Walton Beach attorney at Brannon & Brannon. Call today.