When another party causes you harm and injury because of their negligence or intentional torts, you can seek compensation for damages. The courts cannot change what has happened to you. The law cannot undo the pain and suffering you experienced.
However, the law can provide injured parties monetary compensation for the damages and harm caused by other parties. Before accepting a personal injury settlement offer, you must understand what damages are available in a Florida personal injury case.
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What Are Damages in a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case?
Damages are the remedy the court offers when another party wrongs you in some way. The wrong can be physical, emotional, and financial harm.
In Florida, there are two types of damages in a personal injury case: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory Damages for a Florida Personal Injury Claim
Compensatory damages try to make an injured party “whole” again by reimbursing them for their financial losses, pain, and suffering. These damages fall into one of two categories:
Economic Damages in a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case
Economic damages reimburse you for the monetary losses incurred because of the injuries caused by the at-fault party.
Economic damages include, but are not limited to:
- Medical expenses and bills
- The cost of rehabilitative care and therapy
- Lost wages and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Personal care and help with household tasks
- In-home nursing care
- Property damage
You could also receive future economic damages if you sustained a permanent impairment or disability.
Future economic damages may include:
- Future medical bills for ongoing treatment and care
- Long-term nursing and/or personal care
- Reduction in earning capacity and/or future lost wages
Florida does not cap economic damages in wrongful death and personal injury cases. Therefore, you can demand payment for all economic damages, regardless of the amount.
You can increase the value of your economic damages by keeping a log of all expenses and costs you incur because of your injuries. Your legal team should work with you to track these losses. A personal injury lawyer may also employ experts to assist in calculating future damages when necessary.
Non-Economic Damages in a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Mental anguish, embarrassment, and inconvenience
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Diminished quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other psychological harm
- Permanent impairments and disabling conditions
- Loss of enjoyment of life
It is impossible to put a price on pain and suffering because it is unique to each person. However, the courts must try to do so to make an injured victim “whole” again. Therefore, a personal injury lawyer will analyze the factors in the case to determine the impact the accident and the injuries had on the victim’s life.
Factors that impact how much your claim is worth include:
- Whether you sustained permanent injuries
- The type of medical treatment you received
- The level of scarring and disfigurement
- Your age, health, career, and life expectancy
- The impact of your injuries on your daily activities
- Major life events you will not be able to participate in or enjoy because of your injury and/or impairment
- Your mental and emotional health before and after the accident
- The loss of ability to have a career or advance in your career
- Being unable to have children or care for your children
Juries need to “feel” how much you suffered and will continue to suffer because of the other party’s actions. Therefore, it helps to keep a pain and suffering journal detailing your recovery. The journal should contain details about things you can no longer do, struggles with emotional issues, pain levels, and other details.
Florida’s Threshold Requirements for Car Accident Victims
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. Therefore, all car accident victims file claims with their PIP insurance company. PIP insurance pays limited benefits, such as up to 80% of medical bills and up to 60% of lost wages.
However, PIP pays nothing for non-economic damages. You cannot sue the other driver even if they caused the accident unless you meet the threshold requirements for a liability claim.
Florida laws provide an injury threshold for car accident claims. If you sustain a significant and permanent impairment or loss of bodily function, you might be able to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. Permanent and significant scarring are also included in the threshold, as is the death of a family member.
Punitive Damages for a Florida Personal Injury Claim
Punitive damages are not intended to compensate an injured party for damages. However, the victim receives the money awarded for punitive damages.
Instead, punitive damages are awarded in personal injury trials to punish the at-fault party for their wrongful actions. These damages also discourage the party and other parties from repeating the conduct.
Punitive damages are only awarded in very specific cases. The victim must prove that the at-fault party is guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. In other words, the party that caused your injuries acted without regard for the standards of morality or the safety of other people.
How Does Comparative Fault Impact a Damages Award in a Florida Personal Injury Case?
Comparative fault apportions damages based on a party’s level of blame for causing an accident or injury. Therefore, if you are partially to blame for the cause of your injuries, comparative fault could reduce the amount you receive for damages.
If you are 51% or more to blame for your injuries, you cannot recover any money for your damages. You can help protect yourself from comparative fault claims by allowing your attorney to handle all communications with the insurance company. It is not in your best interest to agree to a recorded conversation or answer questions for an insurance adjuster without legal advice.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyers
At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers, our legal team works diligently to document all your damages to calculate the maximum value for damages. We pursue all parties and claims to maximize the amount you receive for your case. Call our law firm today at (727) 349-1728 to request a free case evaluation from an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney.