People who have suffered a serious injury as the result of an accident face medical bills, loss of income and even loss of physical or mental capacity. Add to that the pain and suffering, and it is normal for them to wonder who will pay — and how much. Although there have been many notable personal injury cases in which the plaintiff received millions of dollars — perhaps none more famously than the McDonald’s coffee case, in which a woman was awarded $2.86 million for burning herself with hot coffee — tort reforms have changed the landscape.
In 2003, Florida placed caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. A recent tort reform measure in Florida has added more hurdles. Whether your case involves harm caused by surgical error, product liability, or a car accident, the insurance company is going to see it one way and your attorney is going to fight to get you the greatest compensation possible.
Insurance companies generally use this formula to determine a settlement amount:
- Actual costs: These costs include medical expenses, lost wages and damaged property.
- Nonmonetary damages: To come up with the value of nonmonetary damages, including pain and suffering, a common method is to calculate the cost of medical special damages multiplied by different factors, depending on the extent of injuries.
Your personal injury lawyer will dig as deep as possible to find all avenues of compensation. This may include:
- Countering insurance company claims as to how much of the accident was your fault (called comparative negligence).
- Seeking all possible liable parties. For instance, if you were in a car accident because a driver ran a red light, did that driver also have defective brakes? If so, the brake manufacturer may also be liable for your injuries.
- Utilizing expert testimony as permitted under new Florida statutes to help maximize compensation.
As you can see, how much an injury case is worth depends on a number of variables. Deciding whether to settle or fight is a personal decision. It may be in your best interests to consult a Florida personal injury attorney before signing your rights away with an insurance company.
Attorney Shane Herbert also contributed to this post.