Last Update: 10/11/17
Seeking compensation after a car accident or slip and fall in Florida can be stressful. The truth of the matter is, that doesn’t always change with whether or not you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you. Not only are you trying to emotionally and physically heal, you also have the added burden of negotiating your claim with a hard to reach adjuster.
During this process, you will likely find yourself asking your injury lawyer, or yourself: “what is my personal injury claim worth?” and “how can I get maximum compensation for my injuries from the insurance company in my case?”
The unfortunate part here is that making this determination is not an exact science (although insurance companies use software to decide what your claim is worth.) So, how can you precisely estimate a dollar amount to return you to the condition you were in (both financially and physically) prior to your injuries?
Fortunately, there are ways to reasonably to estimate that number.
5 Things to Consider When Answering “What is My Injury Claim Worth?” and “How Can I Maximize Compensation for My Injury Case?”
The insurance company may tell you that it’s easy to settle your case: just put together the medical bills (past and future); throw in the lost wages (past wages, future earning capacity estimate) and add in an amount for pain and suffering, and you’re done.
In reality, the insurance company will use this information to do everything they can to deny your claim or make you a low ball offer.
Below are 5 issues to consider when trying to determine how much your claim is worth and how to receive the maximum about of compensation from the insurance company:
1. The Injury
Long-term injuries (like brain or spinal injuries, including herniated disks from a slip and fall) and broken bones, like an ankle, are evaluated differently than minor injuries, “soft-tissue” injuries, like sprains, whiplash, or bruising that are short-term in nature. You will need medical doctors to provide documents to show the extent to which you were injured, and any future medical treatment (surgery, therapy, medication, etc.) that may be necessary for your recovery.
2. The Injury Victim
The individual circumstances of someone involved in the accident can affect an injury claim. For example, someone who has a history of carelessness on their record will be treated differently in a car crash claim than someone with a spotless 20 year driving record. Criminal histories and other issues also come into play.
Additionally, age can be an issue because elders, for example, have a shorter life expectancy which impacts issues related to earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life.
3. The At-Fault Party
The person who caused the accident (the negligent party) can affect the value of injury settlement. For example, whether or not the at fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident; where they were more at fault for the car accident than the victim, are they insured, how much insurance do they carry, are all factors in evaluating a claim.
4. The Losses (Damages)
Proper documentation, like receipts and invoices, is needed to support certain damage claims. Damages like medical expenses, EMS, drug prescriptions, hospital bills, medical supplies and therapy costs, .
For car accidents, pain and suffering will need to be estimated based on certain threshold requirements.
For non-medical (economic) damages, such as lost salary and wages, therapy costs, home care, etc., documentation should be provided to the insurance company to support your claims. There are formulas that insurance companies use for things like lost wages or lost commissions that need to be compared against documentation from employers, for example. Lost wages and future earning capacity are big areas where insurance companies try to low ball their settlement offer (if any) to the injury victims.
Property damages can include more than just damage to the vehicle after a car accident. It may include any of the victims belongings in the car that was damaged or lost, such as:
- Cell Phones;
- Groceries; etc.
Be sure to review your insurance policy carefully to ensure that all your personal belongings can be recovered in the event of a car accident.
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5. The Insurance Adjuster
Injury victims can negotiate and settle their claims without a personal injury lawyer. The insurance adjuster isn’t their friend. It is their job at the insurance company to pay-out as little as possible.
For small claims, injury victims may find this works for them. However, for a claim involving surgery, permanent injury, long term health care needs, etc., it’s probably not a good idea to go at it alone. Some argue, in these cases, the parties are of unequal bargaining power.
Why? Because so much information is used to negotiate a claim, and each case is unique. Experts may be needed for accident reconstruction purposes in order to evaluate who was at-fault for the car accident or the level of fault (calculated in percentages) of each of the parties. Additionally, an expert may be needed to estimate or project things like lost earning capacity or loss of future earnings, as well as reading the co-efficient of friction of a grocery store aisle or some other flooring surface in a business establishment.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident or slip and fall and would like to know what your injury claim is worth or want to know if your settlement offer is fair, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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