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Being injured in a car accident is not something that most people plan ahead for. That is why when the medical bills start to pile up, and you haven’t been able to work for a while, you may begin to struggle financially. At the same time, you may also begin to worry not only about your physical condition but also about how you will ever pay the bills and recover financially.
There is good news! Our legal system is designed to help people who find themselves in the exact situation. The primary purpose of our civil justice system in the United States is not to punish misdeeds but, rather, to compensate those individuals whose person or property has been wrongfully damaged by the conduct of another.
In order to succeed on your Florida personal injury claim, you have to suffer some type of injury. As a result of the injury, and the treatment you receive or will need in the future, you may then be entitled to recover damages for your injury.
When we talk about “damages,” we are talking only about money damages. Our civil justice system attempts to put a person back into substantially the same position as they were prior to the injury. The only way our civil justice system can do this is through an award of money damages.
Damages recoverable in a Florida personal injury claim are divided into two categories. They are economic damages and non-economic damages. In turn, these damages are recoverable for two time periods – past and future.
What Economic Damages are Recoverable in a Florida Personal Injury Claim?
Economic damages are those that can simply be added up on a calculator. In the State of Florida, the economic damages you can recover in a personal injury claim include:
Past Medical Bills
Past Lost Wages
Future Medical Bills
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
Economic damages are the easiest damages to prove. As for past economic damages, all you need are the medical bills and the documents to support any claim for wages you have lost. Once those are added up, you know what your past economic damages are.
As for future medical bills, you will need your doctor/surgeon to give his/her opinion as to what the estimated future costs will be. For example, will you need surgery in the future? If so, what is the cost of the procedure, including anesthesia and the surgical facility? If your injury is permanent, your doctor may also estimate the average cost of treatment on a yearly basis. This will allow your attorney to compute the full amount of future medical bills by referencing an actuarial life table.
As for the recovery of future wages, Florida only allows recovery for “loss of future earning capacity.” For example, if you are a surgeon and are injured and can no longer be a surgeon, your recovery would be limited to the difference between what your earnings would have been as a surgeon for your career versus what your earnings will be in any new position you can perform.
What are Non-Economic Damages?
Non-economic damages are the damages awarded for the human losses. This category of damages is most commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. In addition to pain and suffering, non-economic damages include such things as emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, inconvenience, etc. There are many components, both physical and mental, that qualify under this category. Just like economic damages, both past and future non-economic damages are recoverable.
Insurance companies do not appreciate this category of damages. As such, they are not accurately reflected, if at all, in most settlement offers. A jury is usually required to truly fully recover for these types of damages. When a large verdict is reported in the news, a majority of the verdict amount will be for this category of damages.
What Evidence is Needed to Recover for “Pain and Suffering”?
Although you can testify as to how your physical or mental condition may have changed since the accident, the best evidence to prove your human losses is the testimony from the people around you. There is no stronger evidence than the testimony of a lay witness, having no stake in the outcome of the lawsuit, who is able to discuss how you have changed since the accident occurred. Such testimony is especially important in cases involving traumatic brain injuries, as the victim will more often than not deny that they have been hurt.
Can I Accept Money From the Insurance Company and Still Recover for Future Medical Care?
NO! If you’ve been injured in an Apollo Beach car accident, you will have only one opportunity to recover for your injuries. The insurance company will not agree to pay you and then leave your claim open. Once you agree to a settlement, your claim will be over. This is why it is important to be patient and to let your medical treatment play out. When your attorney starts to negotiate your claim, you will want to make sure the attorney knows what your future medical needs will be. This can take a substantial amount of time to determine. This is the only way to ensure a fair settlement of your claim.
If you have questions about your Florida accident case, you can download our Free Reports:
which are available on our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813)419-3866 to talk directly to one of our Apollo Beach personal injury attorneys.
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