What Factors Are Considered By Courts In Setting Florida Car Accident Case Value?
The three factors that set the value of all car accident cases are: (1) liability, (2) damages, and (3) insurance coverage. All of those things must come together, in a positive way, to get the most money possible from any serious injury or death case.
(If you just want to know how to get the most money from YOUR Florida car accident case, give us a call, or send a text, ASAP. (407) 803-2139. We answer calls 24/7/365, and have only very experienced & award-winning lawyers who provide free consultations, if we handle your type of case.)
How Is Auto Accident Liability Determined?
Liability is another way of saying: who caused the accident? For rear end accidents, liability is usually clear (the person who did the rear-ending is usually to blame). But some cases involve mixed fault, like an intersection collision.
Florida has a law called “comparative negligence.” That’s just a complicated way of saying that both parties might share the blame, and the recovery amount might be divided. So, if a jury thought that you were 50% liable, then you would only recover 50% of your damages. So that’s how liability, or fault, would affect your bottom line recovery. Of course, we work very hard to minimize your fault, and maximize the fault of the other driver, by exploring evidence such as crash photos, witness statements, and the other driver’s, statements about the accident.
Another issue with liability is whether you received a ticket for the accident. If the police officer thought that you were solely to blame, and issued a ticket, then we usually cannot take the case. We do sometimes make exceptions if the accident involved very serious injuries, and there is a good argument that the other driver caused the accident.
In the end, the jury decides on liability, or both parties, predicting what a jury might do, agree to a settlement, with liability in mind (that’s what happens in 99% of cases). One of our jobs is to make arguments to the insurance company, to convince them that a jury will be on your side regarding liability or fault.
What Are The Possible Auto Accident Damages?
Damages is another way of saying the money we can prove you should recover from the accident. Technically, damages include past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, and past and future pain and suffering. Those three big items, added together, lead to the total you should recover (unless you have a share of the liability, as explained above, or there’s not enough insurance, as explained below).
For most auto accidents, the severity of the injury, and significance of treatment, will determine case value, with the available insurance policies being a cap on the value. There is usually a strong relationship to the cost of the medical care, and the amount of pain and suffering damages. Sometimes we get clients who also have high lost wage claims, if they were forced to stop working a high salary job, due to the injuries they suffered in the accident.
When we Orlando accident lawyers are trying to determine case value, we perform extensive research to find similar cases, with similar injuries and treatment, to set the value that we expect to receive from the insurance company. This is somewhat similar to selling real estate. Real estate agents determine house value by looking at the sold price of similar houses in the neighborhood. Same goes with car accident cases, although the best Orlando car accident lawyers will often find creative ways to make arguments that your case is more similar to the higher value settlements, and different from the lower value ones.
You can read a few example case summaries here. Or you can call us, to get our specific analysis of the facts of your case, as many little facts can entirely change the value. There are also lots of things we can do to increase your case value, after the accident has happened. Not all lawyers or lawsuits are created equal — far from it!
Technically speaking, your medical bills are the easiest to calculate. We present your actual medical bills from your treating physicians. The other side often argues that treatment wasn’t necessary, or was caused by pre-existing medical conditions. Again, we do everything possible to counter those arguments. As far as future medical bills, we can only recover money for those if your treating physician agrees that you are likely to need future medical care, and specifies exactly what treatment you might need, and the likely cost. Treatment you actually receive is FAR more valuable than treatment you might receive in the future, even if your doctor says that you really should get future treatment, like recommended future surgery.
The value of pain and suffering is often the hardest to calculate. Insurance companies will not believe the accident victim unless the medical records confirm that pain is likely in the spot where the plaintiff claims to be hurting. For example, if someone complains of pain in the front of the hip, the insurance company medical experts will look at the MRI, and determine if the pathway of pain makes sense, based on the film results, and exact location of pain complaints.
For this reason, it is never a good idea to misrepresent your pain, either in the lawsuit, or to your treating physician or therapists. At the same time, it is always a bad idea to minimize your pain complaints, because your pain & suffering is an important part of your overall recovery, and lawyers from both sides will go over your medical records with a fine tooth comb, to learn what you may have said about your pain to your doctors, your physical therapists, or even in the forms you complete when you are sitting in the doctor’s office before your appointment. All medical records matter (a LOT) in serious injury & accident cases. So make sure you always complain about everything that is hurting, exactly where you are hurting, and never minimize or exaggerate. If the records make your pain complaints sound dishonest (when compared to your MRI results), that can hurt your credibility, and lower the overall value of your case.
How Much Insurance Is Available In Florida Auto Accident Cases?
This is a biggie. The first and most important question we want to know, in any serious injury case, is what insurance might be available, and what the policy amounts are.
Usually, the insurance policy amounts are the cap on the available damages we can recover. In other words, the most money we can recover is whatever amount of insurance coverage is available. For this reason, we ask many questions to make sure we have uncovered all possible sources of insurance.
Insurance amounts can and do vary widely in Florida. Drivers are not required to carry one penny to pay for the damages when they injure someone in another vehicle. Thankfully, most people have some insurance for that purpose. But the amounts can vary wildly, from 10K, to 25K, to 50K, to 100K, to 300K, to 1M or more. We just never know.
Very generally speaking, if you are hit by a business vehicle, there is more likely to be higher coverage (especially from a larger company; small businesses sometimes do not have good coverage). Sometimes individuals also have good value policies. We just never know, until we send requests for that information, after any new client has retained us (insurance companies must provide this information within 30 days of receiving the requests).
If you have something called uninsured or underinsured (“UM”) coverage, that amount is also available (and, as a side note, this makes your insurance company your adversary — they will do everything possible to fight and minimize the claim — so you need to call us to have us speak to them on your behalf).
Anytime someone is seriously injured, we are always holding our breath until we learn the insurance information.
Do You Need Help Getting The Most Money For Your Car Accident Injuries?
If you have the type of case we normally accept, then we will provide free & fast telephone consultations with an experienced lawyer (never paralegals, assistants, investigators, case managers, or even junior lawyers). We also will meet you in person if needed. It is always urgent to speak with an experienced Florida car accident attorney, as soon as possible after any accident. We can never tell you the value of your case, without reviewing all medical records, and the other evidence in the case. But we can tell you everything that you should be doing ASAP to maximize your case value.
If you would like to hear our thoughts on the potential value of your particular case, please give us a call, or send us a text, right away! Our number is (407) 803-2139, and we take calls 24/7/365.