It can be overwhelming dealing with all of the consequences of an auto accident or other personal injuries. You are faced with medical issues, property damage and juggling doctor appointments with getting the kids to school on time. In addition, you will also need to deal with an insurance company, often your own insurer and the insurance company for the party at fault for the accident.
If an offer is made to pay for your injuries, it is important to understand whether the offer will fairly compensate you for your injuries or the injuries to your spouse or child. Typically the insurance company will condition their settlement offer on a full release, which means that you will not be able to bring a claim for future medical bills or losses should you accept the offer. So how do you know if an offer is fair?
One of the most important steps is understanding what constitutes a fair settlement in your case. If you or a family member suffered severe traumatic injuries, your losses are likely far greater than your outstanding medical bills; and, if you let the insurance company tell you how much it is going to pay, you will almost certainly end up with less than you deserve.
There are several factors that go into calculating a fair insurance settlement for injuries from a car accident in Florida. Most, but not all, of these factors have to do with the immediate and long-term effects of your injuries. This includes not only the financial effects (such as medical expenses and loss of income) but the physical and emotional effects as well. Chronic pain. Suffering. Scarring. Disfigurement. These are all losses for which financial compensation is available, and for which the insurance companies will not pay unless you effectively assert your legal rights.
When it comes to adding up your losses, current and future losses should be addressed separately. As long as you have thorough records, calculating your current financial losses can be fairly straightforward. Broadly speaking, you simply add up all of the costs you have incurred to date, making sure to include all of your accident-related expenses – including:
Keep in mind, your insurance settlement is your “one bite at the apple.” If you overlook any costs when deciding how much to accept from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, once you settle, you will waive your right to seek any additional compensation for past or future losses.
Speaking of future losses, this is where things tend to get more complicated. How do you figure out how much money you will need to cover your ongoing medical care? What if you are never able to return to your old job? How do you put a dollar value on pain and suffering?
Fortunately, there are a couple of widely-recognized formulas for calculating future financial and non-financial losses. Applying these formulas is a complicated process that requires a thorough understanding of both the law and the facts of your case; and, when your financial future is on the line, it is a process that is best left to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Finally, when evaluating a potential auto accident insurance settlement, it is also important to consider Florida’s rule of “comparative fault.” This is a rule which states that an accident victim’s financial compensation can be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault in the accident. Is the insurance company claiming that you were partially at fault? If so, by how much is it discounting your settlement? These are critical questions that you need to answer in order to determine what constitutes a fair settlement in your case.
If you were injured in an auto accident in Orange Park, FL and have questions about your legal rights, we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation. What is your case worth? Find out. Call (904) 737-4700 (24-hour injury line) or contact us online to schedule an appointment today. We assist North Florida accident and injury victims from our four offices in Fleming Island, Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Palm Coast.