How much can I expect from a car accident settlement?
A car accident settlement can have many components depending on the seriousness of the accident and the circumstances surrounding it. Typical components of a car accident claim include compensatory damages for:
- Property damage: Damages to your car, for example.
- Medical expenses: This includes past, present and anticipated future medical expenses arising from the accident. If you are seriously injured, future medical expenses can be tricky to estimate — but you’ve got to get it right so that you don’t run out of money years down the road.
- Lost earnings: This amount includes anticipated future lost earnings (if your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job duties, for example0.
- Incidental expenses, such as child care expenses that you incur while you are recovering in the hospital.
- Pain and suffering: Compensation for the physical suffering that you endure. This amount could be two to five times the amount of your compensation for medical expenses.
- Mental anguish, anxiety, scarring, disfigurement and similar intangible losses.
- Loss of consortium (recoverable by the victim’s spouse for loss of companionship and sexual relations with a comatose victim example).
Wrongful Death Damages
Obviously, a victim who dies in a car accident cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. In Florida, however, spouse, children parents and financially dependent relatives can receive compensation for damages such as:
- Lost financial support or services;
- Lost companionship, guidance and protection;
- Emotional pain (in cases where a parent loses a child); and
- Reimbursement for any medical or funeral expenses paid.
The victim’s probate estate can also be compensated for lost earnings and other amounts, which amounts will ultimately pass under the victim’s will.
Punitive damages, awarded in only about two percent of cases, can only be awarded in instances of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. An intentional road rage accident might qualify for example. In most cases, Florida limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. According to the Justice Department, the average punitive damages award ranges from $38,000 to $50,000.
How is compensation calculated when more than one party is at fault for the accident? Florida applies a system known as “pure comparative negligence”, where the court assigns a percentage value to each party’s negligence, and deducts that percentage from each party’s recovery, For example, suppose two parties share fault in the following manner:
- Party A was 30 percent at fault and suffered $50,000 in damages
- Party B was 70 percent at fault and suffered $40,000 in damages
Party A’s compensation would be $50,000 – ($50,000 X 30%) = $35,000
Party B’s compensation would be $40,000 – ($40,000 X 70%) = $12,000
On balance, then, Party B would owe Party A ($35,000 – $$12,000) = $23,000
The unfortunate reality is that the legal value of your claim is not the only factor in determining how much money you will actually end up with — negotiating skill matters too. And at DLE lawyers, we can do the negotiating for you. We know all the negotiating tricks insurance companies and defendants like to use, and we won’t fall for them.