The types of damages you can receive for a personal injury case vary. The facts and circumstances of your case determine your damages. However, most accident victims are entitled to reimbursement for their financial losses. They might also recover compensation for their pain and suffering.
The first step in recovering damages is proving the other party is liable for your damages because of negligence, intentional torts, or other liability laws. Experienced personal injury lawyers gather evidence and diligently work to establish liability by proving fault and causation.
A good team of injury lawyers exhausts every legal avenue to recover the maximum amount available for your damages. The goal is to put as much money in your pocket as possible to compensate you for the devastating losses caused by a careless individual.
Three Types of Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases in Florida
Damages fall into one of two categories: compensatory damages and non-compensatory damages. Most of the damages awarded in personal injury cases are compensatory damages. Compensatory damages “compensate” you for actual losses.
Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Case
The two types of compensatory damages are Special Damages and General Damages.
Special damages are more commonly known as economic damages. These damages represent the financial losses you incur because of a personal injury. Keep copies of all receipts, bills, statements, and other evidence of expenses and costs related to the accident, your injuries, and your recovery.
Examples of economic damages include:
Cost of Medical Treatment
The total medical expenses in a case will depend on the severity and type of injuries the person sustained. Examples of medical bills in an injury claim include:
- Ambulance services and emergency room costs
- Surgeries and hospital bills
- Cost of diagnostic tests and lab work
- Bills from surgeons, family doctors, therapists, specialists, and other medical providers
- Cost of rehabilitative therapies
- Long-term nursing care and in-home nursing care
- Future medical costs related to permanent impairments and disabilities
The cost of medical treatments and medical care can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, you do not receive reimbursement for these costs until you settle your case. However, no-fault insurance and health insurance may cover some of these costs.
Talk with your personal injury lawyer if you cannot pay your medical bills. You might be able to sign a medical lien with your doctor to continue receiving care until your case settles. The medical lien would be paid from your settlement proceeds (you remain responsible for the bill regardless of the outcome of your case).
Loss of Income
Lost wages are another significant portion of economic damages in most personal injury cases. If you cannot work because of your injuries, you can recover compensation for loss of income, including:
- Hourly wages
- Overtime compensation
- Paid vacation time
- Earned PTO or sick time
- Loss of earnings from self-employment
You might also be entitled to compensation for diminished earning capacity and future lost wages if you sustain a permanent impairment that impacts your ability to work. Cases involving future loss of income generally require evidence from medical experts and financial professionals to establish the value of the claim.
Other Financial Losses and Expenses
You might incur out-of-pocket expenses and other losses because of the accident. Examples of these damages include:
- The cost of personal care if you are unable to perform activities of daily living
- Travel costs to and from medical appointments
- Cost of someone to assist with household chores or childcare
- Installation of a wheelchair ramp or other modification for a permanent disability
- Prescription medications, medical equipment, and over-the-counter medications
Many people overlook out-of-pocket expenses. However, these damages could total thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is important to keep detailed records and documentation so you can add these damages to your claim.
- Loss of consortium
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Embarrassment and anxiety
- PTSD and depression
- Decrease in quality of life
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
Placing a price on pain and suffering can be challenging. Unfortunately, there is not a specific formula you must use to calculate how much your non-economic damages are worth.
Most insurance providers, personal injury lawyers, and courts use the multiplier method. The total economic damages times a number between 1.5 and five equals the value of non-economic damages.
The multiplier used depends on the facts of the case. For example, catastrophic injuries that result in disabling conditions might result in the highest multiplier. An experienced injury attorney knows how to develop a compelling argument using the facts of the case to maximize pain and suffering damages.
Non-Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Case
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, do not compensate the injured party for damages. Instead, these damages “punish” an at-fault party for specific types of conduct.
Florida law requires that you prove the at-fault party’s conduct was intentional or grossly negligent. Additionally, you must prove these elements by clear and convincing evidence. This standard of evidence is higher than the level required to prove negligence.
With very few exceptions, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000.
Florida Contributory Fault Laws and Personal Injury Damages
You can be partially to blame for the cause of your injury and still file a personal injury claim.
Contributory fault laws in Florida do not bar you from recovering compensation if you contributed to the cause of your injury. However, your damages could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Suppose a jury awards you $500,000 for a car accident. However, the jury finds you contributed to the cause of the car crash by 45%. In that case, the total of your compensation would be $275,000 ($500,000 less 45%).
Insurance companies understand the laws regarding contributory fault. Some companies try to shift the blame to the accident victim to save money.
For that reason, you need to be careful what you say after a personal injury or accident. Your statements at the accident scene or to the insurance adjuster could be used to deny or undervalue your claim.
Instead of talking to a claims adjuster, refer them to your lawyer. If you do not have an attorney, call an office to speak with an accident lawyer. Having an attorney to provide guidance after a personal injury can help you avoid mistakes that could reduce the value of your damages.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Personal Injury Lawyers
You deserve compensation for all damages caused by a negligent party. Our legal team is here to help you fight for maximum compensation for your personal injury claim. Contact our law firm to schedule your free case evaluation with our experienced personal injury attorneys.