How Personal Injury Damages Are Determined
Being injured is no joke, and Florida is the site of more than 200,000 traffic accidents alone. When you or someone close to you is injured in an accident it can have a huge impact on your life. Not only do you have to recover physically and emotionally, but you may have to heal financially as well. Accidents can bring serious costs with them, from medical costs to the money you might lose by not being able to arrive at work.
To help you move past those financial hardships, seeking compensation for an injury is important. Not only will a settlement or being awarded damages help you financially, but it can remove a tremendous amount of stress and make it easier for you to focus on your physical recovery.
There are two things that could occur if your attorney agrees that you should seek compensation – you'll either be offered an out of court settlement, or you'll go to trial and hopefully be awarded damages. Settlements are a 'sure thing' when offered, while a trial could award more or less depending on the situation.
Both, however, are based on several factors. Deciding whether or not a settlement is fair is a good idea, and knowing the different factors that go into determining damages will help you understand what to expect during this process.
With that in mind, here's a quick rundown of how personal injury damages or settlement amounts are determined in a case.
- • Medical Bills – To begin with, your medical bills that came about as a direct result of the accident are the foundation on which the rest of the amount will be built. Medical bills can reach very high amounts, and your damages will likely cover all of your medical costs.
- • Future Medical Bills – In most cases, the future is considered as well. Experts will provide estimates as to how much additional medical attention you could require over the future, and factor that number into the settlement amount to ensure that you don't have to pay out of pocket for them.
- • Lost Wages – When you're injured, you not only generate medical bills but also lose out on money since you're not at work. That means that your existing bills will be difficult to meet as well. Settlements will factor in lost wages and time you missed at work to help ensure that you don't struggle to make ends meet.
- • Future Lost Wages – Just as with medical bills, the potential lost wages that you might lose in the future will be factored into the settlement amount as well, ensuring that even if you're out of work for months or even years, you'll still be able to survive. This is particularly important if an accident has left you disabled and unable to work for the foreseeable future.
- • Pain and Suffering – This is the area that gets a little gray, and the one that most insurance companies or defending parties are afraid of. Pain and suffering is subjective, and courts often award amounts based on their gut feeling. As a result, this can increase payouts dramatically. It's a big reason that most will want to settle out of court.
In nearly any instance, it's not worth it for you to go to court. Your first settlement amount might not be fair, but in most cases you'll eventually be offered a settlement payout that is good for you. The factors above will have a big influence on that, but it's best to talk to a qualified personal injury attorney to ensure that you're fully aware of just when the right time is to accept a settlement.