The most common expense resulting from a personal injuries accident case are economic damages, also known as special damages, such as medical costs and lost wages. Medical costs and lost wages can usually be determined quite easily. These damages are determined by the total costs of your medical bills and by calculating the amount of salary you did not earn because you were unable to perform your required job duties.
However, these are several other types of damages that are recognized by Florida’s personal injury law. Other types of damages that could be eligible for recovery are called non-economic damages, also known as general damages. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and are not as easily quantifiable as economic damages but are, nevertheless, valid under Florida law.
Calculating the cost of pain and suffering damages would include physical and mental injuries. Here are four of the most common factors that are considered when calculating the value of pain and suffering in personal injury cases:
Type of injury and the severity – Needless to say, compensation for a traumatic brain injury would be much greater than the compensation one could expect from simple cuts or bruises. The more severe an injury is, the greater the medical expenses would be to treat such an injury. Also, treatment and recovery time for more severe injuries is greater, which takes a greater toll on your mental health, and even your relationships. This is true for non-physical injuries as well. Mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, also qualify.
Required medical treatment – While some injuries are readily treated with rest and medication, others will require surgery, rehabilitation, assistive devices, and more. The more extensive treatment you need, the higher the value of your pain and suffering damage will be.
Recovery period – The discomfort of enduring rehabilitation, having to depend on pain medication, and learning to use assistive devices may be unquantifiable. However, the presence of these conditions will lead to greater compensation.
Effect of injury on your life – Serious and life-threatening conditions often result in disabilities, which will affect you for the rest of your life. While disabilities do not have to hamper you from leading a happy life, you still deserve compensation for the pain and suffering that you have experienced or are experiencing as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Evidence is Key to Proving Your Claim for Pain and Suffering
Once you and your personal injury lawyer have determined that your pain and suffering are significant and will hold value in court, evidence to support your claims must be collected. Suing for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, is much more complex than it is for economic damages. Pain and suffering are intangible and do not directly correspond to monetary values. This means that aside from documents, you may also need to provide testimony from witnesses.
Below are four people whose testimony will be of great value to your pain and suffering claim in court:
Your doctor – Because of his or her profession, your doctor can be called as an expert witness in court. Your doctor can testify about the extent of your injuries and how it will affect you for the rest of your life.
A mental health professional – More often than not, serious physical injuries are accompanied by mental health hazards as well. Mental health professionals, like psychiatrists, and psychologists, can also be admitted as expert witnesses.
Spouse or close family members – The people closest to you can testify how much your injuries have affected your way of life. Because they have intimate knowledge of you for a substantial period of time, they have the authority to speak on your behalf.
Yourself – As the plaintiff, your experience can also be used as evidence. To bolster credibility, you should present a day-to-day recording of your suffering and experiences after the accident. Keeping a journal is often one of the first things that a personal injury lawyer will advise you to do, not just for evidential purposes, but also to record your recollection of the events while your memory is still fresh.
Florida Uses Comparative Negligence Rules
Comparative negligence states that fault and/or negligence is often shared by each party involved in an accident. This “sharing scheme” is based on their actions that contribute to the accident, allowing insurers to pay insurance claims accordingly.
Different states will have their own version of the comparative negligence rule. For example, some states allow a party who is “less” at fault to receive compensation, while others do not. Florida uses the pure comparative negligence rule, where the amount of compensation can be reduced based on the degree of fault you had in the accident.
For example, if your collision was at night and the other driver had been driving a vehicle with non-working headlights, then that could be sufficient grounds for proving fault. However, if you were also speeding or texting while driving, you would have also contributed to the accident.
In this scenario, it will be up to a jury, in a trial, or an insurance adjuster, in a settlement, to determine to what degree each party contributed to causing the accident. If, for example, you were determined to be 20% at fault, then your claim of $300,000 would be reduced to $240,000.
Florida Has a Punitive Damage Cap
Punitive damages in a personal injury case in Florida are rare. Punitive damages are reserved for defendants whose behavior is deemed to be grossly negligent, malicious, and intentional. If the court awards punitive damages, it is to deter the defendant and others from repeating the same acts in the future. In Florida, the cap for punitive damages is set at $500,000 or up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, then you should take the appropriate steps to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a trusted, respectable personal injury attorney today.
For over 60 years our firm has been successfully helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s carelessness. We have been nationally ranked for decades by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 law firm, which is the highest rank that can be received.
Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas have dedicated their careers to continuing the firm’s legacy of superior legal representation. Remember that we never charge a fee unless we win. Call us today so that we may answer your questions, help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
We work hard to make sure each and every client gets the attention that they deserve. We appreciate feedback from our clients and reviews are validation of our work. Every 5-star review that we receive lets us know that our services were appreciated by our clients.