What is the Value or 'Worth' of Your Personal Injury Case?
At Adams & Luka, our Orlando personal injury attorneys know that when a client has been injured due to negligence, he/she is often curious as to how much the case may be worth. Ultimately, it all boils down to the "damages" an individual has suffered in terms of how much that person's injuries have cost not only physically and financially, but in some cases mentally as well. For instance, you may have medical bills you have accumulated for the actual injuries, but property damage if your car or other property was damaged, lost income if you could not work due to your injuries, etc.
The money awarded either through a settlement with the defendant(s) and their insurance companies or what is awarded by a judge or jury if you file a personal injury lawsuit is often referred to as compensation, or compensatory damages. Essentially, these compensatory damages are meant to compensate the injured victim for any loss caused by the accident or circumstances the resulted in injury. Placing a value or "worth" on medical costs, property damages, or lost income is relatively easy, however determining the monetary value of emotional distress or pain and suffering is a bit more difficult.Types of Compensation in a Personal Injury Case
Income. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible to recover compensation not only for lost income, but even future earnings if you are unable to work for a long period of time, or become disabled. This is often referred to as "loss of earning capacity."
Medical treatment. Serious injuries require medical treatment, which may include surgery or even rehabilitation. Most injury victims have no problem recovering medical costs for treatment they receive, however you may also be eligible for compensation for future medical care costs if those costs are associated with injuries you suffered in an accident or other type of negligent action.
Pain and suffering. When injuries cause substantial pain or serious discomfort at the time the accident occurs and immediately following, you may be eligible for pain and suffering damages. Many injuries result in pain that is ongoing, or even permanent.
Property damage. Car accidents are the leading cause of serious injuries, and in many cases the victim's vehicle may sustain significant damage. You may be entitled to compensation for the cost of repairs to your vehicle, or even replacement, along with damages for any other property that may have been damaged.
Loss of consortium. When you are unable to maintain the normal companionship or sexual relationship you have enjoyed previously with a spouse because of injuries sustained in a negligent situation, you may be eligible for loss of consortium damages.
Emotional distress. While emotional distress is considered a component of pain and suffering in many states, victims may be awarded damages for emotional distress if the negligent accident/circumstances that caused injury also resulted in psychological injuries, including severe anxiety, fear, insomnia, or other emotional issues.Personal Injury Claims and Punitive Damages
In some cases, a plaintiff in a personal injury case may be awarded punitive damages; often times, these types of damages are awarded to "make an example" out of the defendant, who may have engaged in conduct considered particularly careless or egregious. Ultimately, when a judge or jury awards punitive damages to a plaintiff, it is done primarily as a form of punishment due to the defendant's conduct. Punitive damages often range from millions to tens of millions of dollars, although there is a cap on the amount awarded to a plaintiff in most states.Insurance Companies and Damages
Insurance companies use a "formula" in determining compensation, depending on the severity of the injuries the victim has suffered. Insurance adjusters must determine the total medical costs, then what are called "general" damages, which include damages for pain, suffering, and other losses considered non-monetary. After determining "medical special damages" and "general" damages, lost income is added on. It is at this point that negotiations can begin between the plaintiff and the insurance company to determine final compensation. It is vital that you have a skilled personal injury lawyer in your corner at this time, who will make certain negotiations are fair, and that you receive the full compensation you deserve.
It is not necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit in many cases, however it all depends on whether the defendant(s) and insurance companies offer to pay you the damages you deserve. If they do not, it is then time to proceed to court.