What is a Personal Injury Case?
The term “personal injury” covers a wide variety of cases involving injury caused by another person or party. If you are injured because of another party’s wrongdoing or negligence, you may have a legal claim against that party for damages. The personal injury case is the dispute between you and the other party regarding fault and liability for that claim.
Types of Personal Injury Cases in Florida
The legal basis of most personal injury cases is negligence. Negligence is the failure to act with a level of care that a reasonable, prudent person would have exercised in the same or similar situation.
Before you can recover compensation for damages, you must prove:
- The person owed you a duty of care
- The person breached the duty of care
- The breach of care resulted in the accident or situation that caused your injury
- Your sustained damages because of the breach of duty
Personal injury claims arise from numerous situations. Motor vehicle accidents are a common type of personal injury case.
Defective products, construction accidents, and medical malpractice can also lead to a personal injury case. Slip and fall accidents and other premises liability claims are also common reasons people file personal injury lawsuits.
What Damages Can I Receive In a Personal Injury Case?
Damages are the losses you sustain because of an accident or injury. Under Florida’s personal injury laws, you can seek compensation for your damages. The types of damages you might recover depends on the facts of your case.
However, many personal injury cases include damages such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- The cost of medical treatment, such as medical bills for doctors, therapists, diagnostic tests, ambulance services, hospitals, and other medical providers
- Expenses related to in-home health care and personal care
- Medical expenses such as medical equipment, medications, and medical supplies
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decrease in quality of life
- Permanent impairments and disfigurements
- Benefits for family members for a wrongful death claim
- Property damage claims
Documenting your damages is essential for a personal injury case. You must prove the extent of your damages to recover maximum compensation from the other party. A personal injury attorney can be very helpful with this step in the process of filing a personal injury claim.
How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Calculating the value of a personal injury case can be challenging. The insurance company for the at-fault party wants to pay as little as possible to settle your claim.
You should not trust that an insurance adjuster will tell you the actual value of your claim. The adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company by lowering the value of an injury claim. If you are unsure how much your damages are worth, it is in your best interest to talk with a personal injury lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
Valuing Economic Damages
Economic damages are your financial losses. They include property damage, lost wages, medical expenses, and other out-of-pocket costs. The value of economic damages is the total of all financial losses. Therefore, you need to keep copies of all bills, invoices, receipts, and other evidence of financial losses and expenses related to the accident and your injuries.
If you sustained a permanent impairment, you might be entitled to compensation for future damages. Futures damages would include ongoing personal care and medical treatment. It would also include future loss of income and decreases in earning potential.
Valuing Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages include the pain and suffering you experienced because of another person’s negligence. They include your physical injuries, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Valuing pain and suffering damages can be difficult. There is not a standard formula for placing a dollar figure on a person’s suffering. However, several factors affect the value of non-economic damages, such as:
- The type of injury sustained in the accident
- The severity of the injuries, including permanent impairments and disfigurement
- Allegations of comparative fault
- The availability of insurance coverage and the policy limits
- The total economic losses
- The strength of the evidence proving fault and liability
In many personal injury cases, the multiplier method is used to calculate non-economic damages. The parties agree to a number between 1.5 and five based on the above factors and other relevant factors.
The number is multiplied by the total economic losses in the case. The result is the value of the non-economic damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit vs. Settling a Personal Injury Claim
Many personal injury claims settle without filing a lawsuit. The insurance company for the other party negotiates a settlement with the victim or the victim’s lawyer. However, there are some cases in which filing a lawsuit might be necessary. For example, the fault for a car accident is disputed by the other driver, or an insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith.
There are several steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit begins by filing a complaint seeking a monetary award compensating the plaintiff for damages. The plaintiff is the injured person.
The defendant is the party accused of negligence or wrongdoing. The defendant has a deadline for responding to the complaint. Even though the person who caused the injury is named as the defendant, most insurance providers hire a lawyer to respond to the complaint. The parties engage in discovery. Discovery is the process of exchanging information and evidence. The parties may enter mediation or continue settlement negotiations.
If the parties cannot settle the case without a court proceeding, the case proceeds to a trial. A jury hears the evidence from both parties and renders a verdict. If either party does not like the verdict, they may appeal. It could take years to go through a trial and appeals. The timeline for a personal injury lawsuit varies by case. The court schedule and the complexity of the case impact the time it takes to resolve the dispute. You and your attorney should discuss the pros and cons of filing a personal injury lawsuit versus settling injury cases outside of court.
Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Cases
The Florida Statute of Limitations sets out deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. If you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline, you lose the right to pursue your claim in court.
The deadline for filing personal injury claims could be shorter in some cases. It is best to talk with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident or injury.
Call Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
The steps you take after an injury or accident can significantly impact the outcome of your personal injury case. Our Florida personal injury attorneys provide guidance and support as they work to recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help you as you continue to recover.