Damages in Florida Personal Injury Lawsuits
We are proud of our work as a law firm for Panama City accident victims, but we know no one ever plans to need our services. We help people during some of the hardest times of their lives, when they are facing unexpected injury or dealing with the loss of a loved one. No amount of civil damages can ever turn back the clock. However, monetary damages can be essential in the wake of accident, allowing victims to deal with unexpected costs and confront life following an injury, especially when the injury is life-altering.
Three Key Categories of Damages
The damages available in a Florida personal injury lawsuit fall into three general categories:
- Economic Damages - These damages repay the plaintiff for the financial consequences of the accident. Economic damages in injury cases can include medical bills, lost wages (including the economic value of unpaid work such as childcare or housekeeping), and transportation costs. This includes expenses already incurred, as well as the estimated future costs of the accident.
- Non-Economic Damages - These damages attempt to compensate the victim for the non-financial impact of the incident. People often refer to this category as damages for "pain and suffering." Of course, it is tough to put a monetary figure on the emotional impact of an accident, but an experienced attorney can provide victims with information on what courts have awarded in similar circumstances. Taken together, economic and non-economic damages are also referred to as "compensatory damages."
- Punitive Damages - While economic and non-economic damages are intended to compensate the victim, punitive damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer. As some other legal commentators phrase it, these damages are a warning to the defendant not to engage in similar conduct again. These damages are governed by statute and reserved for cases involving intentional wrongdoing or gross negligence.
In general, damages in personal injury cases are awarded to the victim. However, in some cases, loved ones may also be entitled to economic or non-economic damages.
The Comparative Fault Principle
One important concept in the law of damages is the principle of comparative fault. This rule means that the fact that the victim shared in the fault for the incident is not a total bar to recovery. Instead, the court will decide what percentage of fault is attributable to the victim and reduce the final amount of damages awarded by that amount.
For example, if the victim's injury was 90% due to the defendant's negligent driving and 10% due to the victim's own failure to wear a seatbelt, then the court would determine the total amount of compensation due and then reduce it by 10%. So, in this example, if the court would normally award $100,000, it would instead award $90,000 to account for the victim's involvement.
Serving Our Clients: Applying General Rules to Specific Cases
Ultimately, the amount of damages available depends on the unique facts and circumstances of each case. An experienced Panama City injury attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your case and provide an estimate regarding likely damages. This estimate is just that, an estimate. It is based on your attorney's experience in handling similar claims before the courts in your area, making hiring an experienced injury attorney essential.
You should not trust online calculators to make an estimate that requires experience and analytical skills. The damage estimate is not only a prediction of what a court will do, but it is also a useful guide to have in mind during settlement negotiations that allows your attorney to help you determine if a proposed settlement is fair.
Call to arrange a free consultation to discuss your unique claim.