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How Much Is My Florida Personal Injury Claim Worth?

Winter Park personal injury lawyers explain how the legal system works

Serious accidents in Winter Park and surrounding Florida communities often result in severe injuries. In an instant, you or a loved one can sustain a severe injury that requires immediate medical treatment. Whether it’s a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a slip and fall accident at a Winter Park business on North Orange Avenue or you’re dealing with a premises liability claim involving a restaurant or store somewhere else, it’s critical that you get the care and support you need to fully recover.

But how much money can you receive? How much is your claim worth? What expenses are covered? And who decides the value of your claim? These might seem like straightforward questions. But the answers can be much more complicated than you might expect. That’s why it’s important to understand how the legal system works in Florida and what options are available to you.

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury is a legal term used to describe a situation in which someone else’s actions (or inaction) caused the injury. In most cases, personal injury accidents occur due to someone’s reckless or negligent behavior.

Personal injury claims involve the injury victim taking legal action seeking damages, a legal term for financial compensation for injury-related expenses. The injury victim is known as the plaintiff. The person who caused the injury is known as the defendant.

What are common personal injury claims in Florida?

Personal injury claims can cover a wide range of injury accidents. Some of the most common cases in Florida include:

  • Slip, trip and fall accidents on someone else’s property.
  • Premises liability cases, which means the injury accident occurred on someone else’s property.
  • Boating accidents.
  • Swimming pool accidents, including drowning accidents and slip and fall accidents at hotels, amusement parks or private homes.
  • Product liability cases, which involve injuries caused by dangerous products.
  • Defective medical devices and dangerous drugs.

These are just some of the reasons why people file personal injury claims in Florida. There are many other circumstances and situations. That’s why it’s important to understand how the system works and whether you’re entitled to financial compensation for your injury-related expenses.

How much is my claim worth?

The total value of your claim should equal the total financial impact of your injury-related expenses. This might sound simple. But determining that exact dollar amount can often be a source of intense debate.

Insurance companies often only take into account short-term injury-related expenses, such as emergency medical treatment. This is a deliberate strategy to reduce the amount of money they have to pay.

But the reality is your claim should include all of your injury-related expenses, even if they occur years after your accident. Such expenses can include follow-up surgery, physical therapy, regular doctor’s appointments and prescription medications.

You should also receive money for replacement income if you cannot work while you’re recovering from your injury. And if you cannot return to work because you have a permanent disability due to your accident, you should receive money for the lost income you would have earned in the future.

There are also non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and lost quality and enjoyment of life. Those damages are harder to quantify, but they are real losses that deserve real compensation.

Who pays for my injury expenses?

If someone else caused your injury in Florida, that person or company should be held liable for your accident. Liability is a legal term that refers to who’s legally responsible. The at-fault party is responsible for paying for your injury-related expenses under Florida’s liability laws.

Depending on the circumstances of your injury, the at-fault party responsible for paying for your personal injury accident can include:

  • An owner of the property or business where your accident took place.
  • A company that manufactured the product that caused your injury.
  • A medical professional who failed to follow standards of care and caused injury.

In each case, it’s the at-fault party’s insurance company that’s responsible for paying for your injury-related expenses.

But just because you’re legally entitled to be financially compensated for your injury does not mean you will automatically receive the money you deserve. Indeed, insurance companies will do everything they can to pay injury victims as little as possible or nothing at all.

Should I accept a settlement offer?

Soon after your accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company might contact you and make a settlement offer. Such an offer can be very tempting, especially if you already have large medical bills and cannot work due to your injury.

But before you accept such an offer, it’s important to understand that once you do so, you cannot come back in the future and ask for more money, even if your future accident-related expenses are much higher than you expected.

Insurance companies know this. That’s why they want to settle claims right away before the total cost of your injury is fully known. This is why you should ask for any settlement offer in writing and review it carefully with your attorney.

Can I ask for more money?

If you receive a lowball settlement offer, you have the right to ask for more money. Insurance companies will often insist they can’t offer you any additional money on top of their first offer. But experienced attorneys know that most insurance companies are willing to negotiate and able to make a better settlement offer.

This is why it’s important to have a skilled lawyer on your side, demanding the money you rightfully deserve. Your attorney can present evidence in support of a higher settlement claim, including medical bills due to your injury and pay stubs illustrating how much money you could have earned if you were not hurt.

Such negotiations with insurance companies can be very challenging and combative. The at-fault party’s insurance company will hire an attorney to defend their actions and reduce or deny your claim. Your lawyer can help level the playing field and serve as your voice for justice.

Should I file a personal injury lawsuit?

While negotiating with insurance companies after a personal injury accident can be an effective way to demand the money you deserve, sometimes such negotiations break down and are no longer productive. Sometimes, it’s because the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith or denies your claim for no legitimate reason.

When such situations occur, filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party might be the best way to get the money you deserve. Likewise, if a loved one or family member died as a result of an accident, you may need to file what’s known as a wrongful death lawsuit.

In most cases, you will need to file your lawsuit with the court that has jurisdiction over where your injury took place. In Winter Park, for example, you will likely need to file your personal injury lawsuit with the Orange County Clerk of Courts.

Sometimes, simply filing a lawsuit is enough to put pressure on the at-fault party’s insurance company to return to the negotiating table and make a better settlement offer. In other words, just because a lawsuit is filed doesn’t mean your case will go to trial. However, you do have the option of taking your case to court if you and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement.

It’s also important to understand that you only have a limited amount of time to take legal action in Florida. This deadline can vary depending on the circumstances, and only an attorney can tell you which time limits apply to your case. If you miss the applicable deadlines, you could miss out on your only opportunity to get the money you deserve. An experienced attorney can analyze your situation and determine which statute of limitations applies.

Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer?

Personal injury claims in Florida can be very complicated and contentious legal cases. This is because there’s often a lot of money at stake. This is why you should hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible to handle your case.

To get the money you deserve, your lawyer will likely need to conduct an in-depth, independent investigation of your accident. Such investigations often focus on whether there were dangerous conditions that contributed to your injury, such as loose handrails on a stairway, unmarked obstacles in a public hallway or other known hazards that should have been fixed or repaired years earlier.

Remember, you didn’t do anything wrong. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior. Talk to an experienced Winter Park personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options. The consultation is free and there’s no obligation to hire, just answers about your rights.

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