In Florida, the value of a personal injury case is based upon “Damages”. Damages include three general categories.
- 1. Look at the amount of medical bills you have. This is for the past and for the future.
- 2. Are there any lost wages in the past, and will there be lost wages (or diminished earning capacity) in the future.
- 3. Pain and Suffering in the past and in the future. Pain and suffering, under Florida law, is more than simply “pain” or “suffering”, and can include loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, etc.
Don’t forget about “liability”. “Liability” is the issue of who is responsible for the incident which caused injury. The question is: Who was at fault for the incident? In Florida, the question of fault is ultimately in the hands of a jury to decide, if the claim goes to trial. In Florida, in personal injury cases “comparative fault” is applied to the question of liability. The defendant may be 100% responsible for the incident, or whatever percentage the jury says.
“Damages”, described above, are the numbers to calculate how much a case is worth, but there has to be fault (i.e., “liability”) for any damages to be due. If a jury decided a defendant is only 50% responsible for the injury then any award would be reduced by 50% by the judge presiding over the case.
“Causation”—what caused the injuries—is the link between liability and damages. Note that: Defendants often argue that even if they are at fault for an incident, the damages claimed were not “caused” by the incident. Defendants (their insurers) often argue that the injuries were all pre-existing, were only temporary, or don’t exist at all.
All Factors Considered
In Florida law all three of these factors—Damages, Fault, Causation–are taken into account to determine the worth of a personal injury case. Any attorney who only wants to talk about just your numbers is not being truthful with you about how the law works in Florida. There cannot just be damages only. There must also be fault by a person and/or company in which the incident caused the damages under Florida law. It is important to hire a law firm which will not just dwell on damages only, but will work to make sure the liability is conclusive and that the law firm will obtain the medical testimony to confirm the injuries were actually caused by the at-fault person or company.