The victims of a motor vehicle accident often have many questions following the crash. Most aren’t just dealing with serious injuries, but also must consider how they will pay for their skyrocketing medical bills. That is why many injured individuals’ first concern is how much their car accident claim is worth.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer that can provide accident victims with the clarity that they seek. Car accident claims are quite complicated, and an in-depth analysis is required to determine the worth of an accident claim fully. An experienced Fort Myers car accident attorney can help injured individuals determine the value of their cases.
In this blog post, we will examine some of the factors that may affect the value of your car accident claim, how Florida law plays an essential role in the claim process, and how the right attorney can help make every step of the process less stressful.
What Do Car Accident Compensation Estimates Consider?
Under Florida law, individuals who have been injured in a car accident are entitled to compensation for the total sum of their car repairs and injuries. However, the process for calculating a claim’s value is much more complicated than just a quick scan of all the costs you have endured.
Damaged Property Value
When looking into the damaged property resulting from an accident, you must consider specific values before you come up with a figure representing total costs.
You should consider the following:
- The worth of the damage to your vehicle
- The condition of the car at the time of the accident
- The mileage on the vehicle
- The depreciated amount of the car
You also must examine the specific costs of the parts that need replacing, rather than using an average figure to estimate the total repair. This is important because, depending on the make and model of your car, certain car parts are more expensive than others, and unless you do the research, you may end up requesting insufficient compensation.
Bodily Injury Value
In terms of bodily injury, the process for determining compensation is more complicated. Unlike motor vehicle parts, there is no set price for personal injuries. Many factors go into determining the body injury value, as the effects of a crash can differ dramatically depending on the person.
For instance, when you compare two people—an older retired individual versus a young athletic individual—and both suffer extensive injuries in a car accident, the results can vary vastly between the two of them. Not only how they both recover, but also the financial toll and psychological effects that result.
Overall, the value of your bodily injury claim depends on the specific details of your car accident and the amount of damage it caused.
What Information Will Affect My Claim’s Value?
If you are thinking about filing a car accident claim in Florida, it is crucial to keep track of certain information, as it could affect the overall amount of compensation that you ultimately receive.
You should keep records of the following:
- Medical bills and other related expenses
- Cost estimates for your car repair and other personal property that sustained damage
- Cost estimates for any continued at-home care or rehabilitative services
- Lost wages and other lost income
Having an experienced car accident attorney assess your accident and injuries may prove extremely beneficial. Determining the value of your claim is one of the toughest parts of the process, especially when injury values can vary from county to county in Florida. These attorneys can also let you know what you need to keep track of, what details you need to document, and how to do so correctly so that you present the most substantial car accident claim.
Florida’s Insurance Policy
When discussing automobile accident claims, it is important to note that Florida, for now, is a no-fault state. Accordingly, state law requires individuals who sustain injuries in car accidents to first seek coverage from their own insurance providers. The reason behind this no-fault law is that it prevents motorists from holding at-fault drivers liable for minor damages and costs. Those people who want to take the process further and file a claim against an at-fault motorist may do so after meeting certain requirements, including showing that the accident resulted in a serious injury.
What Qualifies as a Serious Injury?
To qualify as a serious injury, your injury must involve at least one of the following:
- Permanent/significant scarring
- Permanent/significant disfigurement
- Permanent injury
- Serious injury that led to the loss of a bodily function
Before you decide to pursue any claim, it is vital that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney that can help you determine the viability of your claim and whether you’re eligible to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
How Do I Improve My Chances of Maximizing My Recovery After a Car Accident?
To collect the most money from your car accident, you must first determine how much your car accident damages are worth. How do you do this?
By taking the following actions after a car accident:
- Seek medical help: Even if you do not think your injuries are severe, you still need to get checked out by a doctor or another medical professional. He or she will determine if you have any serious injuries that are not yet apparent, while also getting your injuries on record, which can help you prevail in your claim down the road when proving damages.
- Document everything: If possible, document everything from the accident scene. Include pictures and videos of the accident crash, the vehicles involved, any visible injuries, any road hazards, visible traffic signs, and the weather at the time of the accident.
- Witness information and statements: If there were any witnesses present that saw your accident, you should get their names, addresses, and contact information. Their statements can provide you with the type of persuasive evidence that you need to show proof of the accident and what happened.
- Contact a car accident attorney: Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. They can not only start the investigation into what happened right away, but also they will begin collecting critical evidence and preserving crucial data that can help prove your case and maximize your compensation.
What Are Certain Factors That May Affect My Compensation?
Everyone wants to collect as much money as possible after a motor vehicle accident. However, various factors can affect the amount of your claim. These factors include the following:
Victim’s Background and Qualities
As mentioned previously, just as no two people are alike, no two victims are alike either. Your specific qualities and your background can play a substantial role in determining the amount of compensation you receive in an accident claim, including everything from your driving history to your age.
The Victim’s Injuries
The severity of your injuries and the amount of medical treatment required will also play a big part in determining the value of your claim. That is why it is essential to seek medical assistance promptly after your accident, as doctors can adequately assess your current and future medical needs.
In Florida, there are three types of damages that you can collect following an auto accident: (1) economic, (2) non-economic, and in rare circumstances, (3) punitive damages.
- Economic damages are quantifiable and measurable losses that result from your accident. They include medical expenses and medical treatments (past and future), lost wages (past and future), lost earning capacity, household services, property damage, emergency care, rehabilitative services, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Non-economic damages are subjective losses resulting from your accident that are not easily quantifiable. These damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium.
- Punitive damages are awarded in certain circumstances when the actions of the defendant are so egregious that the court wants to not only punish their behavior but also to deter them and others from reoffending.
To go after these damages, you need to make sure that you have specific and detailed documentation to support your entire claim, including requests for non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.
Certain factors about the defendant may also come into play when determining the total value of your case. For example, was the other driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he or she caused the accident? Does the driver have a history of past claims or criminal history? What is the driver’s age?
Negotiations and Settlements
What many people get wrong about car accidents is that they think the insurance company wants to help them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The insurance company is a business that wants to make money. How does the company accomplish this goal? By paying you out less than you deserve. When dealing with insurance companies, you need to have an experienced car accident attorney representing you. These attorneys will make sure that there is no unfair balance in bargaining power while also ensuring that your case is treated fairly.
What Is the Car Accident Claims Process?
In Florida, recovering damages for a car accident claim involves a complicated legal process. Depending on the details of your specific claim, the process can also play a significant role in figuring out your claim’s overall worth.
The primary steps involved in the car accident claims process include the following:
- Filing a claim against the at-fault parties involved, and indicating how much compensation you are seeking.
- Trying to negotiate a settlement offer that is fair and favorable for you, through back-and-forth discussions.
- If negotiations are not successful, filing a car accident lawsuit.
- Litigating your car accident case, which includes seeking damages for your injuries.
One of the toughest pieces of a car accident claim is the negotiation process with the insurance company. These companies do not have the interests of injured victims in mind; rather, insurance companies are focused on maximizing their profits and reducing any claims they must pay out. Oftentimes, an insurance company will increase its compensation offer immediately upon a claimant retaining legal counsel. The company’s representatives know that an attorney will only accept a fair settlement, and that he or she is likely ready to litigate the case all the way to trial if necessary.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney to Handle Your Case?
As you can see, auto accident cases are quite tedious, complicated, and stressful, as many factors can affect the value of an accident claim. However, having a knowledgeable car accident attorney by your side can help you handle these challenging components.
Your attorney will help by engaging in the following tasks:
- Collect evidence: Your attorney can go after the evidence that you need to prove fault and damages, including by conducting thorough interviews of all the witnesses, obtaining expert testimony, and calculating your overall costs, including both past and present.
- Handle the legal process: Your car accident attorney can handle the whole legal process from start to finish, from negotiating a fair settlement to handling the litigation process.
- Filing proper motions: Before you can proceed with your accident claim, you need to make sure that certain legal documents and motions are correctly filed. Your car accident attorney can take care of this for you and ensure that you submit these critical documents within the statute of limitations.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer to Evaluate Your Claim
If you or a family member were injured in a car accident, do not wait any longer to contact an experienced and knowledgeable car accident lawyer today. Look for someone who has successfully represented individuals in car accident claims in the past, and has results and client testimonials to demonstrate success and compassion.
Most car accident lawyers offer free, no-obligation consultations to accident victims, so you risk nothing by reaching out, discussing your accident and injuries, and getting an analysis of your eligibility to file a claim and recover compensation.