One of the first things a potential client wants to know when they consult a Florida personal injury lawyer is whether or not they have a personal injury claim and if so, what that claim is worth.
Answering these two questions isn’t easy.
Because every single personal injury case is unique. Each one has its own facts. And it is the facts of each case that determine whether a viable claim exists. For example, you might have:
- no viable claim at all, or
- a viable claim, but it is not worth pursuing, or
- a viable claim that is worth pursuing, or
- a viable claim that is worth pursuing and for which you may recover a significant amount in damages.
It all depends on the facts of your case.
You can only really be able to answer these questions if you consult with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.
That said, there are some generalities and guideposts that can give you a fairly good idea whether you may have a personal injury claim and potentially what it is worth.
So let’s get started.
Who Was At-Fault for the Accident?
A major consideration in determining whether you have a personal injury claim and/or how much it is worth (discussed more below) concerns how the accident happened, when, and who is going to be held liable for it.
Because accidents can happen in so many ways, the first issue you will need to look at and discuss with your Florida personal injury attorney is liability.
The facts of your case determine liability. Since few accidents are clear-cut, in most cases there is going some division of liability between the parties involved. So, the other driver may have been responsible for causing the accident, but you may have contributed in some way to it. Depending on the date of your accident and how much your actions contributed to causing the accident, you may or not be able to recover your damages.
Florida recently moved from a “pure comparative negligence” approach to liability which allocated a percentage of fault to each party and reduced his or her recovery by that percentage, to a “modified comparative negligence” approach. Currently, in any Florida personal injury action (other than medical malpractice) filed after March 4, 2023, if you are less than 50% at-fault for causing the accident, you can recover for your damages. If, however, you are 50% or more at fault for the accident, you cannot recover any damages at all.
Therefore, your percentage of fault for any accident and the date of the accident will determine whether you have a claim and how much you can recover.
The Extent of Your Injuries
Another major determinant of a personal injury claim is the extent of a plaintiff’s (i.e., the injured person filing the claim) injuries.
On one end of the spectrum there are minor injuries like bruises. For example, if you were in a fender-bender and only have minor scrapes and bruises, a consultation with a Florida personal injury attorney may result in a determination that you have a claim, but it may not be worth the time and cost of pursuing it through litigation. Litigation is expensive and it can take a long time. Sometimes the cost of pursuing a court action far outweighs the benefit of doing so. Personal injury claims with very minor injuries can cost more to pursue through the courts than a judge or jury would ever award you in the end—making them of little to no value at all.
On the other end of the spectrum are catastrophic injuries and/or death. Serious or fatal injuries, while not at all desirable or what anyone would ever wish a person to have to endure, are frequently personal injury cases that have more monetary value because of the medical costs involved. Cases with serious injuries often require costly and continued medical interventions. These additional medical costs drive up the value of the personal injury action because they mean that the plaintiff has significant damages.
Does this mean you should only sue if you have serious or catastrophic injuries or that you won’t get fair compensation if you are fully recovered by the time of trial? No, of course not. It is just to say that the level of damages suffered can affect how much a personal injury case is “worth.”
Personal injury actions are always best handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer. Whether you need to understand what your options are or want to know how much your case is worth, consult our experienced team of personal injury lawyers.
With You from the Beginning to the End of Your Personal Injury Case
Our team of personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping those who are injured through the negligence of another. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, contact us or call the firm at 777-JOHN. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we serve clients throughout Florida. We have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.