This is a common question among personal injury victims as they naturally want to know whether it is worth it to pursue a legal claim. Determining what a claim is worth can be complex, however, as there are many types of losses that may be at issue in this type of case. The following is more information regarding calculations of losses that can help determine the value of a particular case.
Everyone knows that a serious injury can result in the necessity for intensive medical treatment. Depending on the type of injury, medical treatment may involve emergency surgery, diagnostic procedures such as CAT scans or MRIs, treatment in a burn unit or ICU, and even months of hospitalization. For this reason, the medical treatment required after a preventable accident can often result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical expenses. Fortunately for victims, medical expenses are often recoverable in a personal injury case, even if a person’s insurance paid for most or all of the costs associated with medical treatment.
It is also important to consider the costs of any future medical treatment a person may require. If an injured victim can no longer live independently, the cost of home health care or payment for an assisted living facility should be factored in. If a victim requires ongoing physical therapy or medications, those expenses are also recoverable. The help of a medical expert may be necessary to correctly estimate future medical expenses.
Lost Wages and Benefits
Many individuals that have been hurt by the negligence of others are unable to work for an extended period of time. In particularly serious cases, such as when a victim sustains a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury (SCI), an individual hurt in a preventable accident may be unable to return to work at all. Thankfully for victims, Florida personal injury law entitles victims hurt by the negligence of others to recover for their lost wages.
Importantly, it is not simply lost wages that are recoverable. In cases where a person is unable to work for an extended period of time, he or she may be able to recover the future income they lose as well as their diminished earning capacity. In many instances, establishing what an accident victim would have made over the course of his or her career requires a significant amount of analysis and may even require the use of expert witnesses. For this reason, it is crucial for anyone that is seeking the loss of future income to retain legal counsel with the experience and resources required to effectively litigate a personal injury claim.
Finally, many people who are unable to work lose the benefits associated with their employment, including their retirement plans and stock options. These kinds of losses are also compensable in a Florida personal injury claim.
Florida law also recognizes the right of personal injury victims to recover non-economic damages in cases involving serious injuries with long-lasting effects. In many cases, these kinds of damages can be a significant source of recovery and may even be the primary source of compensation in any settlement or award a victim received. Unfortunately, however, they can often be difficult to establish – after all, while economic damages are easy to quantify, non-economic damages do not have a concrete value. These damages include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional trauma and distress;
- Loss of enjoyment of life;
- Permanent disfigurement;
- Permanent disability.
Punitive damages are available in cases involving very egregious behavior on the part of the defendant. These damages are meant to punish the offending party and to dissuade them from acting in a similar manner in the future. While these damages are not connected to any particular loss, Florida law does not allow more than a certain amount of punitive damages, depending on the amount of other compensatory damages at issue in the case.