When you get injured in a car accident, one of the most important things you need to know is how much you are entitled to recover. If you file an insurance claim and settle for less than you deserve, you won’t be able to go back and ask for more. You only get one chance to protect yourself; and, if you don’t know what your car accident claim is worth, you won’t know when (and if) you should accept a settlement.
So, if you’ve been injured in a car accident, how much are you entitled to receive for your injuries? The answer to this question depends on your individual circumstances. Your losses are personal, and they aren’t the same as anyone else’s. This means that determining the value of your car accident claim requires an intimate understanding of how the accident has affected (and will affect) your life.
Types of Financial Compensation Available to Car Accident Victims in Florida
Under Florida law, individuals who suffer injuries in car accidents can potentially recover compensation for various types of losses. We say “potentially,” because the ability to recover compensation for these losses depends on a variety of factors—which we discuss in detail below.
In broad terms, the losses that accident victims can recover in Florida can be divided into two categories: financial and non-financial.
Financial (or “Economic” or “Pecuniary”) Damages
Financial losses (also referred to as “economic” or “pecuniary” losses) are those that directly impact car accident victims’ bank accounts. Accident-related injuries can impact both the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. Financial losses for which car accident victims in Florida can seek just compensation include:
- Loss of wages, income, and benefits
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Medical, prescription, and rehabilitation costs
- Other out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. the cost to hire a cleaning service or build a wheelchair ramp at your home)
Non-Financial (or “Non-Economic” or “Non-Pecuniary”) Damages
Non-financial losses affect car accident victims’ lives in other ways. While these are not “costs” in terms of monetary impact, they still entitle victims to financial compensation under Florida law. Common non-financial (also referred to as “non-economic” or “non-pecuniary”) losses include:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship and support
- Loss of opportunity and enjoyment of life
7 Factors that Will Affect the Value of Your Car Accident Claim
While these types of damages are generally available to car accident victims in Florida, as we mentioned above, the losses you can recover are entirely unique to you. With this in mind, here are seven factors that will play a role in determining the value of your car accident claim:
1. Who Was at Fault in the Accident
Even though Florida is a “no fault” auto insurance state, fault still plays a key role in many cases. If someone else was at fault in your car accident – and if you suffered “significant” or “permanent” injuries in the crash – then you are entitled to pursue a fault-based insurance claim (assuming coverage is available).
What if you were partially at fault? In Florida, as long as you were not 100% at fault in your car accident, you can still recover partial compensation. You can still file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim; and, if you have a claim for bodily injury liability (BIL) or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, the value of your claim will simply be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
2. Insurance Coverage
Insurance coverage is a key factor in many car accident cases. If you only have access to PIP coverage (for example, if the other driver is uninsured and no one in your household has UIM insurance), then the value of your claim may be limited by the coverage that is available. On the other hand, if there is plenty of coverage available to compensate you for your losses, then you should absolutely be able to recover the full amount to which you are legally entitled under Florida law.
3. Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries is a key factor as well. In addition to proof of fault, filing an auto insurance claim outside of PIP also requires proof that you suffered a “significant” or “permanent” injury. If any of your injuries qualify (as will often be the case), then calculating your losses will require an in-depth understanding of all of the ways your injuries will impact your life.
4. Your Medical Needs
Since medical bills are covered under PIP (up to your policy limit), understanding your medical needs is important in all cases. If you will need ongoing care in the future, it will be especially important to make sure you know the costs you are likely to incur.
5. Your Job and Income
The more you make, the more you can recover for your lost earnings and earning capacity. What you do for work could also impact whether you will be able to work in the future. Additionally, the further away you are from retirement, the more you may be entitled to collect for your lost future earnings.
6. Your Family Circumstances
If you have a spouse and/or children, this may also affect the value of your car accident claim. Specifically, it could affect the amount of non-financial losses you are entitled to recover. Losing the ability to spend meaningful and intimate time with your loved ones is considered a compensable loss under Florida law.
7. Timing and Proof
Crucially, timing is an important factor as well. The longer you wait to pursue your claim, the more difficult it could become to prove your legal rights. If limited proof is available, the insurance companies will be less likely to settle for the full amount of your accident-related losses. As a result, it is important that you take action immediately, and your first step should be to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Palm Beach car accident attorney.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers
The team at Brian Guralnick Injury Lawyers Demand More® and so should you. If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now or contact us online. Isn’t it time that you Demand More®?
You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.