Personal Injury Settlements: Myths vs. Reality
What is the average settlement for personal injury? Any answer to this question would be meaningless because award amounts vary widely. Nevertheless, the most popular myth about personal injury settlements is that a good lawyer can smooth-talk a jury into awarding millions of dollars for a questionable personal injury claim.
The second most popular myth is that your claim cannot succeed (or will result in only a trivial settlement amount) unless you suffer catastrophic injuries.
These myths are both wrong, although for opposite reasons. What follows is a more detailed, realistic assessment of the limitations you will face when pursuing your personal injury claim.
Why Some Personal Injury Settlements Are High
Personal injury settlements vary from low to high for a number of reasons beyond the intrinsic value of the claim. Below is an explanation of a few of the reasons why.
High Insurance Limits
Some defendants carry more liability insurance than others. Commercial truckers and on-duty Uber/Lyft drivers, for example, carry liability insurance policies with high coverage limits. Commercial truckers must often carry liability insurance in minimum amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A slip and fall accident on an escalator in a large department store could result in a high payout. Even if the store carries very little insurance, the business itself can typically afford to pay you a large damages award “out of pocket.”
Diminished Earning Capacity
Will your injuries allow you to return to your former vocation, or will they force you into early retirement? Permanent injury settlement amounts can be shockingly high. And the younger the victim is, the higher the settlement amount, for obvious reasons.
Pain and Suffering
Some injuries cause a great deal more suffering than others. But how do you measure pain and suffering? The inherently “fuzzy” nature of a pain and suffering claim makes it a lot easier for a good lawyer to use their persuasive skills to increase its value.
Limitations on Personal Injury Compensation
Some factors, such as the ones described below, limit the amount of money you can receive in a personal injury settlement.
Insurance Policy Limits
No matter how much your claim is worth, the insurance company has no obligation to pay you a dime beyond policy limits. If the defendant has limited financial means and carries little insurance, the practical value of your claim is likely to suffer.
The small business insurance liability policy that covers the mom-and-pop shop where you got hurt might not pay enough. Even additional out-of-pocket contributions from mom-and-pop themselves might add very little.
Auto accident ‘no-fault’ auto insurance
Florida applies a special “no-fault” system to car accidents. Minimum personal injury protection (PIP) insurance tops out at $10,000. You can evade these limitations by proving that your injuries are “serious” as Florida law defines that term.
Auto Accident Liability Insurance
Unfortunately, Florida does not require its drivers to purchase auto accident liability insurance. As a consequence, car accident injury settlement amounts tend to be lower unless the driver can afford to pay a large claim out of their own pocket.
Statutory Limits on Punitive Damages
Personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts can get ridiculously high when juries abandon all restraint and issue high punitive damages. In response to this glitch in human nature, Florida law limits the amount of punitive damages that victims can receive. In Florida, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000.
Prompt Action on Your Claim Can Make a Decisive Difference
As long as the value of your claim is significant, there is no advantage in waiting to pursue it. “Pursuing” your claim doesn’t necessarily mean sending a demand letter to the party responsible for paying it – not just yet, anyway. You can pursue your claim by contacting a personal injury lawyer and gathering evidence until the time is right.
Contact the Jacksonville Personal Injury Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Downtown Jacksonville
121 W. Forsyth St. #170,
Jacksonville, FL 32202