Last Update: 01/13/16
When you are hurt in an car accident, there are immediate concerns that need to be addressed like getting medical attention as soon as possible; contacting family members and friends to notify them about what has happened; figuring out what to do about your car and personal property; and how to handle immediate financial needs like paying for medical care, lost wages, and dealing with your bills when you can’t work.
From a car accident lawyer’s perspective, establishing a claim for damages begins at the time of the crash itself. Building a case with authenticated, admissible evidence simply cannot start too soon.
Why? Your personal injury claim needs to be supported by proof for every dollar that you are demanding to be paid by the person(s) responsible for your accident and your resulting injuries.
In most car accident cases, this evidentiary focus involves four general areas. From the cost to repair or replace your laptop that was damaged in the accident to the expense of your future physical therapy needs, these costs, among others, are used to calculate the amount of damages an injured party has suffered.
Four Factors Used to Determine the Amount of Your Car Accident Damages
Here are four general focus areas, or factors, that are used to establish the amount of damages sustained by someone involved in a Florida car crash:
1. The Damage to the Vehicle
Providing evidence regarding how seriously the car itself was damaged is important to show the jurors how bad the accident really was: it is a visual fact that helps them understand what you experienced in the crash. This type of evidence is also important to prove up your property damage claim (i.e., loss of the vehicle). That evidence includes:
- Mechanical Expert Opinions
- Accident Reconstruction Analysis
- Blue Book Valuations.
2. The Medical Care That Was Given
Here, you need to show proof of what your bodily injuries were as a result of the crash and how they were treated by the health care professionals that tended to you (and may continue to do so in long-term injury cases). The evidence here can be substantial, including:
- EMS expense
- EMS care record
- Emergency Room records
- Treatment documentation from treating physicians, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, and other medical care professionals
- Medical opinions on future medical care needs and estimates of costs, time frames (therapists, chiropractors, pain specialists, psychologists, etc.)
3. The Injured Victim’s Recovery Status
When your injury lawyer engages in settlement negotiations with the defense lawyers and/or insurance adjusters, or when he or she presents your case in a courtroom to a jury, you may or may not have fully recovered from your auto accident (you may never be 100% again). Being able to coordinate and present the evidence related to the status of your recovery, mentally and physically, your pain and suffering, your future medical needs, and your level of permanent injury, is important to establishing damages and includes evidence like:
- Pain being experienced at the time, as established by medical opinion; future pain medication needs; etc.
- Ability to care for yourself and care for others
- Ability to work
- Continuing medical needs according to a current treatment plan
- Continuing needs of immediate family (loss of ability to parent, loss of consortium, etc.)
- Long term care needs as shown by medical opinion
- Loss or limited use of body parts (hand, wrist, knee, shoulder, etc.)
4. Limitations Experienced by the Injury Victim
How your life has been changed because of the auto accident and the injuries you have sustained in the crash is another important factor in proving up your damages claim. Here, limitations in your life style are established by things that include:
- Testimony of witnesses on what you could do before and after the accident, physically and psychologically
- Testimony from an economist and an expert in vocational rehabilitation related to loss of future earning capacity
- Medical opinion on your current and future limitations as a result of injuries sustained in the crash
- Changed ability to do the type of work you had been doing
- Changed ability to live the lifestyle that you had been enjoying
- Projected future disability assessment by medical professionals
- Testimony as to the need to make modifications to your home to accommodate any limitations you may have
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident in Florida, 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.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.