Florida personal injury lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, discusses the value of a personal injury case.
Many times in the initial visit with a personal injury client, they want to know – HOW MUCH MONEY ARE THEY GOING TO GET – this is my answer to the question:
There is no secret formula or process by which someone can predict with certainty the amount of money that a personal injury case may be worth. If there was a secret or specific formula, then society wouldn't have a need for injury lawyers. A person could simply apply the “formula” to come up with the value of a case and folks would never have to take their case to court for a jury to decide the value. However, trials are necessary when the two sides cannot agree on who is at fault or the value of a case.
Generally, a case is worth the amount of money to fairly and adequately compensate a person for the injuries (damages) inflicted on the person. Some damages are relatively easy to calculate, like past and future medical and hospital expenses, lost wages, the lost ability to earn money in the future and sometimes damage to property.
In Florida, if the injured has a permanent injury, loss of important bodily function or significant scarring, the person the right to recover compensation for other “intangible” harms and loss, also known as “pain and suffering” or “non-economic” damages. It is these non-economic damages that are more difficult to calculate, and they usually include physical and mental pain, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, humiliation and embarrassment. The intangible harms are purely subjective, difficult to determine and often vary among jurors who will decide the case.
In the end, the value of a case is determined by the jury (or judge if you have a bench trial).
Once a claim is made or a lawsuit is filed, the injured person's lawyer and the at-fault person's insurance company or insurance defense attorney continually try to evaluate how a jury might see the case and how much money a jury might award. Each side will come up with settlement range on the case based on their knowledge and experience, and try to negotiate a settlement within the settlement range.
In a lot of case it can take months to determine the true value or worth of the case. One reason for this delay is the nature and extent of the medical treatment the client receives as well as the client's progress with treatment. Another common reason for a perceived delay in determining case value has to do with the liability issues (“who is at fault” or “what parties are responsible for the injuries”).
If there is adequate insurance coverage in a case, the injured person's attorney cannot begin negotiation until the client has been released from medical treatment or reached a plateau, also known as maximum medical improvement. It is not in the client's best interest to settle a case without knowing what the future will bring in regarding to medical treatment, ability to earn an income, and how the lasting effect of the injuries will impact the client's life.
There many things that an attorney can tell you regarding the value of a personal injury case once he/she has a handle on liability (fault) and the nature and extent of the person's injuries. However, the true value of the case is what the insurance adjuster will agree to pay before trial or what a jury will award after a trial.
As you can see, Florida personal injury law can be complex and many factors go into determining how much a Florida personal injury case is worth? If you have any questions, give me a call at(352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.