How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Many prospective clients often ask, how much is my case worth? While a fair question, it is often very difficult to answer with any certainty at the outset of a case. There are numerous factors that go in to determining a case’s value. Here are few:
What you can collect may depend on the type of case you are pursuing. The damages that can be claimed in a personal injury case are different than those which may be claimed in a workman’s compensation case, for example. Furthermore, what can be collected in medical malpractice cases might vary from what you can collect in a slip and fall or other liability case. Furthermore, the damages available in Florida wrongful death case are strictly governed by Florida Statutes and differ from those that can be claimed in other types of cases. Therefore, the type of case you are pursuing will dictate what damages may be claimed. A personal injury attorney should be able to easily discuss these issues with you.
Additionally, the Florida civil jury instructions may offer some specifics. Should your case proceed to trial, these are the instructions that a judge will likely provide to a jury to help them decide your damages and render a verdict. In many instances, they spell out the various factors for the jury to consider when awarding damages.
Determination of Liability
Assuming you were hurt under circumstances that allow you claim damages in a lawsuit, you will have to prove that your injuries were the direct and proximate result of the defendant’s actions. This is typically referred to as “liability” or “negligence.” In most cases, you will not be permitted to collect damages unless you can establish that your injuries were caused by the defendants.
The stronger your case of liability, the more likely you are to win at trial (assuming all other factors to be equal). That will provide better leverage in any settlement negotiation. If you are partially responsible for some of the damages you suffered, your verdict may be reduced by your comparative fault and, therefore, the settlement value of your case may also be reduced. Therefore, the value of your case (at least for settlement purposes) increases if you have a strong case of liability.
Extent of Injuries and Damages
Once you have established liability, the value of your case is highly dependant on the nature and extent of your injuries. This includes physical harm, past and future medical bills, impairment, disfigurement, reduction in the ability to enjoy life, emotional harm, and other damages. To maximize your case value, however, you will need medical documentation and testimony to support your injury claims. That is, a jury will need to hear from your doctors and possibly review their respective medical records, operative notes, and other reports to compare with what you express as your damages.
Insurance Coverage and Ability to Satisfy a Judgment
You may have a great personal injury claim, but if the at-fault party does not have the ability to compensate you, either through personal assets or insurance, then your case may not have much practical value. For example, there are many uninsured drivers in Miami. If you are injured by an uninsured driver in Miami (and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage), then it will likely be difficult for any attorney to help you recover your damages. In Florida, vehicle owners are currently not required to have bodily injury coverage, which protects drivers when they injure others on the road.
That is why one of the first things we do is determine whether a prospective defendant has insurance coverage that can help satisfy some or all of a client’s injuries and damages. Of course, this is less of an issue with larger corporations, hospital chains, publicly traded companies, “big box” stores, and other defendants with adequate resources. Nevertheless, we always ask for insurance information because Insurance companies have obligations that individuals and other businesses may not.
The Right Attorney
Among the countless other factors that can affect the value of your case, having the right attorney by your side is certainly one of them. When choosing a personal injury attorney, you want to try to identify a personal injury attorney who has experience handling your particular type of case and that has a history of obtaining positive results in cases similar to yours. You also need to find a personal injury attorney who you feel comfortable talking with and who has the time to devote to your case and respond promptly to your questions.
If you or a loved one believe you may need a personal injury attorney in Miami, and wish to speak with one of our Miami injury attorneys, then please complete our Contact Form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys. Or, you can chat with us online or reach us 24/7/365 by calling (305) 372-3650. With over 35 years of combined legal experience handling personal injury cases, we know what it takes to win.