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What Factors Can Affect Damages in Fort Myers Personal Injury Cases?

Fort Myers personal injury lawyerOne of the first questions a lot of people ask when they’re first considering filing a Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit is, “What is my case worth?”

In legal terms, we would phrase “the amount owed” as “damages.”

To answer this question, your Fort Myers personal injury lawyer would certainly start by examining the type of injury, who was at fault, how much you’ve racked up in medical bills, and the wages you’ve lost while you’ve had to take off work to recover. Determining the full scope of damages can quickly get complicated.

That’s partially because not every loss is tangible. You may be entitled to compensation for your physical pain and suffering or even for the emotional anguish you went through as a result of the incident. Those things aren’t easily measurable in dollars and cents (even if that’s how they’re ultimately paid).

Other factors that must be considered:

The type and severity of injury.

Minor injuries shouldn’t be dismissed, of course. But the reality is that unless your injury landed you in the hospital, resulted in a permanent injury, significant loss of function, permanent scarring, and/or forced time away from work, it’s unlikely to result in a significant settlement without the hiring of a skilled personal injury attorney.

If you are in a car accident in Florida, you actually can’t step outside the no-fault system to pursue damages against the at-fault driver unless the extent of your injuries meets or exceeds the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 627.737. This requires evidence that your injury consisted of a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, or death.

However, this same rule won’t apply to motorcycle injury victims because they do not carry the no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. So again, the type of injury can impact how your case proceeds and how much it’s worth.

It’s also worth pointing out that certain types of cases may be more difficult/complicated to successfully pursue. For instance, a case of medical malpractice or product liability is going to require more resources, expertise, expert witnesses, attorney time, etc. They may also yield higher damage awards as there will likely be more recoverable assets/insurance coverage, but all of this will be weighed in determining the value of a case. Florida-personal-injury-statute-of-limitations-1-300x200

Who was at-fault.

Sometimes, the question of fault is very cut-and-dried. Other times, it might be a little fuzzy. If more than one person was responsible, then there may be greater potential that you’ll actually have the opportunity to obtain a full and fair recovery.

However, it’s also possible that the plaintiff shared some portion of the fault. This is called comparative fault. As our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers can explain, if a person is more than 50% at fault for their own injuries, per F.S. 768.81, they will be unable to collect any damages at all. But even if they are less than 50% responsible, their damage award can be reduced proportionate to their share of fault. So if you suffered $100,000 in damages but were 20% at-fault for your own injuries, the most you can collect from any other at-fault person will be $80,000.

Determining who was at fault – and to what extent – is often a central issue in many Florida personal injury cases.

How much evidence is available.

So much comes down to what you can prove – from the cause of the injury to the fault of those involved to the value of losses suffered. There must be sufficient evidence to establish all these things or the case will fall apart. A dedicated Fort Myers personal injury attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and get a sense early on about the strength of the evidence.

Insurance liability limits. 

The vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved via settlements with insurance carriers. (Rare are the instances when a defendant is wealthy enough to pay settlements out of their own pocket.) Our reliance on insurance policies means that the value of a settlement is essentially capped at the insurance policy limit.

There may be some exceptions. For example, in cases of punitive damages or bad faith insurance, a payout may end up being higher than the policy limit (although punitive damages wouldn’t be paid by insurance). However, those are not the norm.

Remember that policy limits may include your own. For example, if you are injured in a car accident with a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate you for your losses, we can turn to your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policies.

The quality of your Fort Myers personal injury attorney.

No attorney can promise you a particular outcome. What we can say is that having an experienced injury lawyer with a reputation for victory in cases similar to yours can make a big difference in how successful you are. Sometimes, we can even negotiate fair settlement deals without a client even needing to go to trial.

Note that with personal injury cases, you do not have to pay your lawyer upfront. Most offer free initial consultations, and then you pay nothing unless/until you win.

If you have been injured in Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, Cape Coral, Naples, or Key West, contact Garvin Injury Law at 800.977.7017 for a free consultation.

Additional Resources:

How do you calculate damages in injury trials? Longtime expert witness reveals methodology, Oct. 26, 2022, By Lee Rawles, Modern Law Library, American Bar Association

More Blog Entries:

“Can the Defense in My Fort Myers Injury Lawsuit Spy on Me?” Nov. 27, 2023, Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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