Many factors can affect the settlement value of a personal injury case. Some of them can even result in you not getting compensation.
Here are the factors that affect the final settlement amount:
1. Was the Defendant Careless?
In order to recover damages in a lawsuit based upon negligence, the defendant’s negligence (fault) must be a cause of your injury. If the defendant wasn’t negligent, then you’re not entitled to compensation.
For example, let’s say that you slip and fall in a hotel bathtub. In order to get compensation for your injuries, the hotel must be careless. You may be able to argue that the before your fall, many guests complained about issues with the tub. In August 2019, I settled a similar hotel slip and fall case for $250,000. The guest fractured her arm.
Here is the settlement check:
2. Who Pays the Injured Person’s Medical Bills (Car Crash PIP vs Slip and Fall)
In a Florida car or truck crash, auto insurance laws will determine:
- Who pays your medical bills?
- The amount of your out of pocket bills.
- Whether any of the 11 potential defendants get a credit of up to $10,000 for having PIP. This would lower the settlement value.
- Whether the jury will get to hear the total billed charges or just the paid amount.
All of the above affect the full value of the Florida car or truck accident case. They also affect the settlement value.
3. Past Jury Verdicts (and Settlements) for a Particular Injury
How do insurance companies in a personal injury case calculate pain and suffering values?
Historically, they estimated pain and suffering values for a particular injury by looking at past jury verdicts.
However, the recent trend has been for insurers to loomotok at past settlements instead of verdicts. That said, insurance companies still look at past jury verdicts. So do defense attorneys.
In a Florida accident case, be sure to subscribe to a service, such as Westlaw or Lexis Nexis, where you can pull Florida jury verdicts that itemize the pain and suffering component. These services can cost upwards of about $45 a month.
Look for Florida jury verdicts in the past five years, preferably in the same county where the accident occurred. If there are not jury verdicts for the county where the accident happened, send them verdicts from nearby counties.
A cruise line’s carelessness may have caused your injury. Some of the biggest cruise lines are Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
Send those adjusters jury verdicts from Miami-Dade county, Florida. Lawsuit against these cruise lines must be filed in Miami.
Send good verdicts to the adjuster immediately so that they can set the proper settlement reserve. Good verdicts are those which have a big pain and suffering award.
If you send the insurance company big verdicts, it may speed up settlement of your case.
Past verdicts with a high pain and suffering component may help the adjuster justify a higher pain and suffering payout. Often, adjusters need settlement authority from their supervisor.
If you send the adjuster big verdicts, it can increase the full value of the case.
Do not send the adjuster any verdicts that you find on an attorney’s website. Those verdicts usually just tell half of the story, and generally do not have the pain and suffering component itemized.
Check out some of our Florida injury settlements.
I’ve settled Florida wrist and hand fracture cases for car accidents and falls for $210,000, $200,000, $125,000, $35,000 and $10,000.
Past Florida car crash settlements and verdicts may be different than with the same injury in a non-motor vehicle case.
In many cases, do not rely on a past Florida motorcycle crash or slip and fall verdicts and settlements to estimate the value of your Florida car or truck wreck injury case.
History repeats itself. Send the adjuster past Florida car accident verdicts for the same county where you were injured. Check out some of our Florida car accident settlements.
4. Have You Filed For Bankruptcy?
A personal injury lawyer’s nightmare come true is getting the following call from a client. “Hey, Mr. attorney, I filed for bankruptcy.”
Because when you file for bankruptcy, the case may then belong to the trustee. This means that it might no longer be your personal injury case.
5. Your Ability to Calculate the Settlement Value.
If you do not know how to calculate the settlement value in a Florida injury case, you are shooting in the dark. The adjuster may pick up on this and give you a low ball offer.
It has taken me many years to become good at evaluating Florida personal injury case values.
6. Whether You Are Entitled to Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident?
Even if someone’s carelessness caused your injury in a Florida car or truck accident, you do not automatically get money for pain and suffering.
Not every Florida vehicular accident case requires that you meet the tort threshold, so you must understand the law cold. Do not expect the adjuster to explain the law to you.
Most, if not all, Florida uninsured motorist insurance policies say that a claimant can’t recover pain and suffering compensation unless the claimant has a threshold injury. This law applies even if the Floridian was hurt in a crash in another state that doesn’t require a permanent injury.
7. Time Passing Without You Getting Medical Treatment
Gaps in medical treatment may decrease the value of any injury case. The claims adjuster will argue that you delayed getting medical treatment because your pain was not bad.
In a Florida auto accident case, PIP coverage does not pay medical bills if the claimant waited more than fourteen (14) days to get treated.
8. Are you married?
Find out why married people who are injured may get more money than unmarried individuals.
9. Did you have or do you need surgery?
It’s no secret that surgery increases the full settlement value of an injury case. Just look at my biggest settlements. In most of them my client had surgery.
For example, I represented a man who was visiting from another state when he injured in a Florida car accident. As a result of the accident, he has surgery to fix his broken leg. I settled his case for $300,000.
Your personal injury settlement may be smaller without surgery.
10. Did you take an ambulance to the hospital?
11. Was 911 Called?
If 911 was called after your accident or incident, this may affect the settlement value of your claim.
12. Pre-existing injuries.
Claims adjusters will often try to pay you less by arguing that your injury pre-existed the accident.
You may still have a good case even if you have a pre-existing injury. I settled a slip and fall case for $300,000 where my client, a shopper, had 2 skin grafts to repair his lower leg wound.
The defense attorney argued that these surgeries were due to complications from an achilles tendon surgery which pre-existed that subject slip and fall.
All the settlements mentioned on this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
13. Is your injury permanent?
Find out what a “permanent injury” is in a Florida auto or truck accident case. Learn why having a permanent injury may affect your settlement.
14. Your doctors.
Your doctor is a huge part of your personal injury case.
If your doctor says that your injury is not related to your accident, then you cannot get damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) from the party whose carelessness caused your injury.
As mentioned in #11, if a doctor says that you do not have a permanent injury this can hurt your case.
That is why it is so important to know the reputation (as it applies to accident cases) of the doctor that you are treating with.
The only sure way to know whether the doctor can kill your case is to speak with a personal injury lawyer who knows about the doctor.
Check out this article (with links to maps that have contact information) about doctors in Florida who want to help accident victims.
15. Insurance company
On the other hand, Zurich American Insurance Company insures Lyft vehicles.
The good news?
Zurich has a better reputation than Progressive. York Risk Services handles Lyft claims.
16. Type of Injury
The full value of damages is larger for a bigger injury. Certain injuries are worth more than others are.
For example, a hip fracture is generally worth more than a soft tissue injury. There are exceptions to this rule.
However, all things equal, serious injuries are worth more than minor injuries. You need to be hurt to have a personal injury case.
What could have happened does not cut it. Often times, people injured in accidents say, “I could have died.”
That does not amount too much. There must be an injury.
Find out more about particular injuries towards the bottom of this article.
17. Whether Medpay Coverage is Available
Medical payments (Medpay) coverage is optional insurance coverage that pays for the injured person’s medical bills, up to a certain amount, regardless of fault. Unlike liability coverage, Medpay coverage is not reduced by the injured person’s fault in the accident.
In Florida, an injured person may have access to Medpay coverage in two (2) types of accidents: motor vehicle accidents, and accidents at a premises.
Medpay coverage in auto accidents
In a Florida auto accident, Medpay pays the 20% of medical bill that are not covered by PIP.
Accidents at a premises (e.g. slip, trip and falls, other accidents)
If you are injured at a premises, their Medpay coverage may pay for your bills, up to a certain amount.
Large stores and supermarkets generally do not have Medpay coverage. I settled a fracture case for a client who tripped and fell at a Miami Beach apartment complex. They had $5,000 in Medpay coverage.
I settled a case for a $78,000 for a lady who tripped and fell and fractured her nose in a North Miami Beach, Florida condominium building. The condo building had $5,000 in Medpay coverage. I have settled many other premises accident cases where the premises had an insurance policy with Medpay coverage.
You may be able to recover many types of damages in an injury case. Sometimes the types of recoverable damages depend on the type of case. Many claimants do not make claims for certain types of damages.
Certain damages are recoverable in a Florida wrongful death case. These may be different than in a Florida car accident case or slip and fall case.
Damages drive the value of an injury case. Find out which damages are recoverable in a Florida injury claim.
19. Pictures or Video
Pictures can make or break an injury case. Jurors, and therefore adjusters, love to see pictures. Helpful pictures should be sent to the adjuster as soon as possible after the accident. Pictures which show the following can help an injured person’s accident case:
- Moderate to severe damage to vehicles involved
- Paramedics and/or police at the accident scene
- The dangerous condition in slip, trip and fall that caused your injury
- Poor lighting at the time of the accident
- Hardware outside of your body such as an external fixator
- Scarring or disfigurement
- The injured person in a hospital bed with an oxygen tubes, scrapes, a cast, an IV line and machines next to you
Generally speaking, the more that a picture makes you cringe, the more it increases the full value of a case. On the flip side, pictures that can hurt the value of a personal injury case are:
- No damage or minor damage to the vehicles involved
- Excellent lighting if you are claiming that you could not see the dangerous condition before you fell
- Excellent lighting if you claim that you could not see the person or vehicle who you struck
There are countless other examples of how pictures can either hurt or destroy your case. Find out the two biggest reasons to take pictures.
20. Do you wear glasses, contact lenses, or hearing aids?
Your eyesight and hearing are at issue in every injury case. If an adjuster believes that you were negligent in failing to wear your glasses, contact lenses or hearing aids and this caused your accident, then he may discount the value of your case.
An adjuster may want to know who prescribed them, when were they prescribed, when were your eyes or ears last examined and the name and address of the examiner.
21. Were you suffering from physical infirmity, disability, or sickness at the time of the incident?
The liability insurer will want to know whether you were suffering from physical infirmity, disability, or sickness at the time of the incident. I settled a lawsuit for $300,000 for a man who slipped and fell while on crutches in a Miami supermarket.
The defense attorney hired a physical therapist who argued that my client’s improper use of his crutches was the cause of his fall. The supermarket tried to use my client’s disability against him. We still settled the case for $300,000.
In a slip and fall case, you should expect the adjuster to want to know whether your disability caused your fall. They may look through your past and current medical records to see whether they find any mention of past falls or difficulty walking.
You may still have a case even if you had a disability at the time of the fall. I settled a slip and fall claim for over $190,000 for a client who was walking in a boot at the time of the fall.
22. Your specific injuries.
The particular injury that you have affects the full value of the component of an injury case that is for bodily injury, pain and suffering, disability and physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for the past and future enjoyment of life.
These damages as known as non-economic damages.
The pain and suffering component of non-economic damages is often the largest component of an injury case in terms of compensation. For example, a wrist fracture has a higher full settlement value than a finger fracture. I’m talking about the pain and suffering part of the case.
It is critical to know what value to assign to the pain and suffering component for a particular injury. Without this figure, you are shooting in the dark.
You also should not solely rely on settlements and verdicts that attorneys have listed on their website. Yes, I have my Florida injury cases on this website and while I try to be as accurate and detailed as possible, they often only tell part of the story of a particular case.
Each case has its own fact specific story.
This is one of the reasons that Florida lawyers are required to have the following statement when referring to their settlements or verdicts: “Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.”
23. How accurately do your medical records reflect your injuries, limitations and other issues?
Some clients tell me that they have limitations in their daily activities but the medical records state that there are no limitations. For example, I have had clients tell me that they have difficulty showering but their medical records say “No difficulty washing.”
The best way to ensure that your medical records accurately reflect your limitations or complaints is to call the medical provider (often a doctor) before your next visit and ask them to please have the medical record ready for you.
You can review the medical record while you are waiting and point out any errors to the medical provider. The medical provider may also document his or her records more clearly once they realize that you are reviewing your records for accuracy.
24. Gender (in Cases of Scarring or Disfigurement)
There are many other factors that affect the value of a scar in a personal injury case. In Florida, if a driver’s carelessness (in certain types of car or truck accidents) caused your injury, you must show that your scarring or disfigurement is permanent and significant in order to be entitled to damages for pain and suffering.
If someone’s negligence caused your scarring in a Florida non-motor vehicle case such as slip and fall, and many other types of cases, you do not need permanent and significant scarring in order to recover for damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, etc.
25. Type of Health insurance, if any.
If you don’t have health insurance, the full value of an injury claim tends to be larger because the injured person’s out of pocket expenses are higher. All things equal, if you have health coverage, then the full settlement value is lower.
Health plans or insurers generally pay at a lower rate. In Florida, an injured person can only recover the amount paid by the plan and your out of pocket expenses.
Your out of pocket expenses include your health insurance deductible and co-pays. Find out how health insurance, Medicaid and other first party coverage affect the full value of a case and the settlement value.
26. Full Settlement Value
Is a personal injury case worth pursuing? Some personal injury cases have a small full value. All cases take a lot of time and cost to be handled properly. A small full value does not justify the time and expense.
Attorneys cannot represent every person who is injured. If they did, they would go out of business. Some claims are worthless.
Attorneys turn down cases. I estimate that one out of every three injury claims is rejected because the full value is too small. I know this is true for my firm.
27. Attorney’s Fees and Costs
If you do not want to hire an attorney, you can skip to the next factor. However, many people hire a lawyer. If you do, their fees and costs will affect the settlement. Florida injury lawyers do not charge an upfront fee.
Rather, they are only paid if they recover money. This is known as a contingency fee. This is great for injured claimants.
Most are low-income or middle class. They cannot afford a lawyer without a contingency fee.
In Florida, the standard fee is 33 1/3% of the total settlement. This is if the case settles before a lawsuit. If the case settles after you sue, then the fee jumps to 40%.
Costs are in addition to this amount. Then your medical bills and any liens are paid. The client then receives the net settlement.
The attorney’s fees are less in cases against the government. This is applies to both city, state and federal government entities. Find out more about attorney’s fees in Florida injury cases.
28. Time it takes to settle.
Injury cases take time to settle. This is true if you want a fair settlement. The time it takes to settle may depend on your last medical visit.
It may also depend on whether there is limited insurance. A dollar now is worth more than a dollar in one year. This is known as the time value of money.
Insurers may settle for a reduced amount prior to trial. This is because the injured person’s costs increase as the trial date gets closer. Insurers know this.
29. Insurance Company Closes Your Claim
An insurance company may close your claim. They usually do this for inactivity. Do not worry. It may slightly delay your case. Send them a letter asking them to open the claim.
30. Did the at fault party cause your injuries?
To be successful in an injury claim, the defendant must be negligent. After that you need to determine whether the negligent party caused your injuries. Causation means that someone’s negligence was the legal cause of the claimant’s injury. Causation is supported by medical testimony.
31. Potential Defendants
All things equal, the settlement value of a case may increase with the number of defendants. It is easier for two defendants to each pay $32,000, than it is for one to pay $64,000.
The injured person must know every prospective defendant as soon as possible. If they do not, they may be leaving money on the table. Find out the 11 parties who can sue in a Florida auto accident case.
32. Do you have lost wages?
If someone’s carelessness caused you to lose money by being unable to work, you may be able to get paid for your lost wages in the personal injury case. Your lost wages increase the full value of the case.
If you missed work from the accident, this may show that you were truly injured in the accident. This can increase the pain and suffering component of the claim. This is particularly true if you were an employee or worker who rarely missed work prior to the accident.
The injured person should never miss work solely in the hopes to get more money. As I discussed in #12, exaggerating your injuries can cripple your case.
The responsible party who may pay your lost wages paid in Florida is different based on the type of accident in which you were involved. For example, an injured person’s lost wages are paid differently in most Florida car or truck accidents than in a Florida motorcycle crash or slip and fall case.
Find out if you can get paid for your lost wages in a Florida accident case.
33. Were you working at the time of the accident or incident?
If someone’s carelessness causes your injury while you are working in Florida, you may have a personal injury claim against that party. The personal injury claim is in addition to a workers compensation claim against your employer.
There are many cases where the employee cannot sue for personal injury. An employee generally cannot sue an employer for personal injury in Florida.
In certain cases, the full value and settlement value of your personal injury claim will be smaller against the third party than if you were not working because your economic damages (e.g. particularly your medical bills) may be less since workers compensation pays your medical bills at 100%.
Whereas if someone’s negligence caused your injury while you were not on the job in Florida and did not have health insurance coverage, the full value of your out of pocket medical bills is higher which raises the full value of your case.
The positive aspect about a personal injury case against a third party that arose while you are working in Florida is that the law is very favorable to the injured person in terms of reducing the workers compensation lien.
If you have a Florida personal injury case, the workers compensation insurer is required to reduce its lien at a minimum by attorney’s fees and costs. This is just one of 11 reasons to hire a Florida injury lawyer if someone’s carelessness causes your accident and injury while you are in Florida, or on a cruise or boat.
Without a lawyer, the workers compensation carrier does not have to reduce its lien against the injured party’s personal injury claim by attorney’s fees and costs.
If the injured person was not made whole by the injury claim against the careless party, the workers compensation carrier needs to further reduce its lien. The injured person should present all possible evidence to the workers compensation insurer showing that he or she was not made whole.
The most common situations that I have encountered where people are injured while working in Florida or live in Florida, and have a third party claim are when:
- Another truck crashes into the truck driver’s truck (such as a big rig, tractor-trailer) ($210,000 Settlement)
- A car hits a security guard at shopping mall who is driving a vehicle (golf cart, etc.) ($10,000 Policy Limits Settlement)
- A car hits a police officer who is responding to an emergency call. ($125,000 Settlement)
- A worker who is on a business trip slips and falls on water while walking in her hotel Miami-Dade County, Florida ($23,000 Settlement). This is just one of my many Florida hotel accident settlements.
- A car crashes into (e.g. rear ends, etc.) a worker who is driving a vehicle while in Florida on a business trip. ($57,000 Settlement)
34. Any Cell Phones that You Use or that are Registered in Your name
Someone’s carelessness may cause another’s injury. The injured person should expect that the liability insurer may hire a defense attorney.
The attorney will request that the injured person provide them with the number and service carrier associated with each cellular telephone. These are for phones used by the victim and/or registered in his or her name.
This includes all numbers registered to and/or used by him or her under a “family plan” or similar service. They will want this info for those used at the time of accident or currently used.
Most cases do not require a lawsuit but the injured person should be prepared to go the distance if the insurer denies liability or makes an unreasonable offer.
The defense attorney may request copies or screenshots of all photographs associated with that account during the two years prior to the date of the accident. He or she may also request copies or screenshots of all photographs associated with that account from the date of accident to the present.
The defense attorney may also request copies of any documentation outlining what calls were made or received on the date of loss.
The defense attorney generally asks these questions to determine if you were on the phone at or close to the time of the accident. If the injured person was on the phone, at the time of an accident, it may constitute comparative negligence and reduce the full value of the claim.
Even if it does not make the claimant at fault, it can discredit his or her testimony because perhaps his or her concentration was lacking.
The worst thing for the injured person can do is lie and say that he or she was not on the phone if it is untrue. If the defense attorney proves that you were lying, it can damage the case beyond repair.
35. Is the Careless Party Likeable?
If someone causes injury to another, in the Florida personal injury case jurors are not supposed to consider the likeability of the careless party when deciding whether the defendant was negligent and, if so, whether the negligence caused the claimant’s injury.
But they do. It is human nature.
If someone’s negligence caused your injury and they are likeable, this makes the case tougher and can decrease the full value for settlement purposes. For example, a Disney adjuster may reduce the full value of a claim because they know that Orlando jurors like Disney.
The same can be said about Publix Supermarkets. Many people love Publix, including myself, because shopping there is often truly a pleasure.
Human psychology makes it tougher to punish, or award damages against, people that we like.
That being said, even if a nice person or company’s negligence caused your injury, you may have a great case. I settled a Miami injury case for $325,000 against a careless driver who was a very nice man.
The car crash happened in Coconut Grove. He felt so bad for not driving more carefully and crashing into my client.
On the flip side, if a defendant’s careless caused your injury and he or she is not likeable, this increases the value of the case. As of May, 2014, 25 percent of Walmart’s “most loyal” customers were shopping there less because of perceptions about how the company treats its workers.
This could hurt Walmart at trial. But Walmart recently just “voluntarily” raised its minimum wage so this should help their likeability.
If the careless party shows little remorse or is angry or prideful, this increases the value of a case. Jurors have an easier time awarding higher pain and suffering amounts against someone who they do not like.
36. Injured Person’s Experience Handling Injury Claims
If someone’s carelessness caused your injury, a good barometer that may help you decide whether to hire an attorney is whether you know the purpose behind every question on this detailed twenty-one page personal injury questionnaire.
37. How Much Pain You Suffered
The level of your pain and suffering is a huge factor in the settlement value of a personal injury case. From the second someone’s carelessness caused your injury, your pain and suffering level is being recorded.
Did any surveillance video or video cameras at the accident scene show you in pain? Surveillance video can be in the form red light cameras, store surveillance cameras or witnesses who are recording you with a video camera.
Did any witnesses observe you in pain? When I speak with a witness in an injury case, I ask them questions about my client’s pain level.
Was the injured person client screaming, moaning, crying or making another movement or noise that demonstrates that she or he was in pain. I may send the witness an affidavit to sign which often mentions the pain level of the accident victim.
For example, I settled a slip and fall case against a supermarket. The witness affidavit stated “[Injured person name] was in a lot of pain.”
An affidavit can be just as good in a car or truck crash case, or any other injury case, as well.
I have used affidavits that describe the injured person’s pain level in many Florida personal injury cases that I have settled.
Warning! A poorly drafted affidavit can destroy the value of an injury case. So be very careful. Drafting affidavits is not for the inexperienced or those without an excellent command of the English language.
If you called 911, the audio recording and written transcription may reflect the level of pain that you are experiencing. The same is true if a witness called 911. If the 911 call helps your case, send it to the claims adjuster immediately.
Warning! The 911 audio or written transcription will always be available, but only for a short period of time after the incident or accident.
The ambulance medical records will state the numeric (from 1 to 10) level of pain of which you complained. The type of drugs (e.g. morphine vs. an over the counter pain reducer) which you received will demonstrate the amount of pain which you experienced.
More controlled substances are only given when the patient complains of a high level of pain. Over the counter drugs are given when you have less pain.
However, I settled a truck case for $210,000 where my client’s pain was not recorded in a 911 call. It was also not recorded in medical documentation until five (5) or so days after the crash.
The hospital and doctors’ medical records will also state that level of pain that you experienced.
38. The actual hospital where you treated.
Certain hospitals are more generous with reducing your medical bills than others after you settle your personal injury case. I settled a motorcycle crash case for $445,000 for an uninsured motorcyclist.
His bill was about $125,000. The hospital reduced its bill to $25,000 or so because he was uninsured. This is a rarity though, and has never happened to me before or after that case.
Certain hospitals provide you with your medical records shortly after you request them. Others take a long time. Some hospitals take longer to send you an itemized bill.
Some hospitals, such as Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami-Dade County, are terrible at responding to our calls asking them to explain the difference between account balance and patient balance.
This can delay the time in which the injured person finally knows how much he or she netted in the accident claim. The $445,000 was paid by Chartis Insurance. Chartis is now known as American International Group (AIG).
39. The Liability Claims Adjuster
No matter how nice the personal injury claims adjuster may seem, he or she is not your friend. In certain accident cases, I have filed a consumer complaint against the Florida insurer because they are not being reasonable, even though the adjuster is sweet.
I take what the adjuster says with a grain of salt. I had one adjuster tell me that he reserved the case at $100,000. My client did not have any significant medical treatment following the adjuster’s comment yet several months later the case settled for $445,000.
If someone’s negligence caused your injury, Medicare may have a huge effect on your injury case. Medicare may pay your medical bills following an accident.
In Florida, a Medicare lien is one components that make up the full value of a case. If Medicare pays for bills, it decreases the full value of the damages case, which then leads to a lower settlement value.
Medicare is entitled to be repaid for the amounts that they pay for treatment related to your claim minus attorney’s fees and costs. One of the many advantages of hiring an attorney – who hopefully knows the law – is that Medicare will discount the amount that you have to repay them by your attorney’s fees and costs.
Learn more about whether Medicare will pay your medical bills after a Florida motorcycle accident.
41. Out of Pocket Medical Bills
If someone’s carelessness caused your injury in Florida, the type of accident will determine who is responsible to pay your medical bills. In many Florida auto accidents, medical bills are paid differently than in a slip and fall case.
In Florida, larger out of pocket medical bills increase the full value of the case. To recover money for out of pocket medical bills, they need to be reasonable and related to the accident.
42. The injured person’s weight.
All things equal, find out why thinner people tend to get larger settlements in injury cases.
43. Dates of Employment.
Your dates of employment for the past 10 years may affect your injury case. Consistent employment shows stability. It is acceptable to move from job to job if you are changing jobs because you are taking on more responsibility.
On the other hand, someone who cannot hold a job may be viewed by an adjuster as someone who may not make a good witness. Injury attorneys love to represent injured people who have been at the same job for many years.
I settled a case for $300,000 for a man who had been at the same job for 25 or so years. He lost his job due to his injuries.
He made a good witness because his long period of employment with the same employer showed his loyalty. If you do not have steady employment, this can hurt your loss of future earning capacity claim.
44. Did you sign a settlement release?
You should demand or negotiate the terms of the injury settlement release with the claims adjuster. If you do not, you can lose the right to make any other claims arising from the same accident.
Auto Accident Cases
In a Florida motor vehicle (e.g. car, truck, motorcycle, etc.) accident case, you must give the uninsured motorist insurer a chance to match the bodily injury (BI) liability insurer’s offer or waive subrogation. If you fail to do this, you lose your right to make an uninsured motorist (UM) coverage liability claim.
In addition, if the BI liability release does not preserve your right to make a UM claim, you lose this right. Auto insurance releases do not have this language. You have to demand that the BI claims insurer include this language.
Premises Liability Accidents
If a company’s negligence caused your injury on their premises, and you settle with a tortfeasor, you need to make sure that the release preserve the right to make a claim against the others. If the release does not preserve this right, you cannot make a claim against the others.
For example, let us assume you a hotel guest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You close the bathroom door. It shatters and cuts you.
You may want to make a personal injury claim against the hotel. You may also want to make a personal injury claim against the glass installer.
If you settle with the hotel (often via its insurer) and fail to preserve your right to make a claim against the glass installer, you kill your right to make a claim against the installer. You can be leaving a lot of money on the table.
In Florida, you also need to be sure to always preserve your right to make a claim against future individuals or companies for medical malpractice which arises out of the accident. If the injury settlement release does not preserve this right, you cannot sue any medical professionals for medical malpractice no matter how badly they injure you.
45. Punitive Damages
Punitive damage claims are in addition to economic damages and non-economic damages. If DUI driver’s negligence, or driver who was on a cell phone, caused your injury in a Florida car or truck crash, you may be able to make a punitive damage claim.
If the Florida DUI crash victim is a witness is the criminal trial, it can increase the likelihood that he or she may make a punitive damage claim.
Punitive damages increase the full value of a case. Check out some Florida DUI injury settlements. You can see that DUI accident claims are generally worth more.
46. Injured Person’s Statement
If the injured person gives a statement to the liability claims adjuster, he or she may be decreasing the value of his or her case.
Examples of liability adjusters, to whom you should not give a statement without an attorney, are: the tortfeasor’s auto insurer, or an adjuster for a premises where you were injured (e.g. supermarket, store, hotel, house, restaurant, condominium, apartment complex, mall, cruise ship, etc.).
You have a duty to give a statement to a PIP or UM insurer to which you are an insured under the policy. A recorded statement can later be used against you.
You have a right to get the recorded statement from the adjuster. In my initial letter of representation to every insurer, I request a copy of any statements in addition to insurance information and other documents.
47. Was the injured person at fault?
If someone’s negligence (carelessness) caused your injuries, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault (comparative negligence). In Florida, if the injured person is more than 51 percent at fault he or she can still recover damages.
Other than a rear-end collision, in many accidents the injured person bears some responsibility. This is especially true in slip and fall accidents.
In slip and fall claims, some lawyers, as a starting point, assume that the victim is 50% at fault for not looking where he or she was walking before the fall. But remember the 50% is just a starting point.
On the other hand, sometimes the injured person has no fault in a fall down case. An example of this may be if you slipped and fell on water that is on white tile at a business (e.g. store, supermarket, hotel, etc.) and you were unable to see the water (because it blended in with the white tile) before the fall.
On rare occasion, in a Florida slip and fall case, the defense will admit fault and the only issues to be tried in front of a jury are causation and damages. For example, in 2011 Carnival cruise lines admitted liability in a lawsuit. A passenger slipped and fell on the pool deck and fractured her knee cap (patella).
She claimed that the flooring was hard and slippery as ice. The passenger also claimed that Carnival had known about numerous prior accidents on the same flooring surface on that cruise ship and its other ships.
She underwent six surgeries, and may need future surgery. That case led to a $2.998 Million Final Judgment. That was not my case but it shows the sometimes, albeit rarely, the defendant will not place any blame on the claimant.
Defendants rarely admit liability in a slip and fall case until after a lawsuit has been filed and extensive discovery has ensued. They make the injured person work to get money and sometimes they force the case to trial.
(Learn more about Carnival Cruise slip and fall injury claims.)
Kids – Children Under Age Six No Fault
In Swindell v. Hellkamp, 242 So.2d 708 (Fla. 1970), the Florida supreme court held as a matter of law that a child under the age of six, who ran into the path of an automobile and was injured, could not be contributorily negligent because a child does not have the capacity to exercise “reasonable care” so as to hold the child responsible for his or her own acts.
This applies to a claim of comparative negligence as well. See Lindenfield v. Dorazio, 606 So.2d 1255, 1257-58 (Fla. 4th DCA 1992). However, a parent or guardian may be negligent for failing to supervise.
However, the child’s injury claim value may be reduced by his or her parent’s negligence for failing to supervise the child.
48. Is there a Collectible Source of Payment?
Even if the defendant is negligent, you may not be able to recover damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.) if there is no payment source from which to collect. The most common sources to collect from are:
- first party coverage including, but not limited to, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, PIP and Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage in an auto policy.
- potential defendants in an auto accident case.
- liability insurance or a self-insured company.
In Florida, there is no requirement to carry liability insurance. If you are in an auto accident, the car that hit you may not have any bodily injury (BI) insurance. One exception is that tractor trailers (18 wheelers) need to carry at least $750,000 in liability coverage.
Even if you are badly injured by an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer, it is possible that the owner of the 18 wheeler cancelled his insurance before the accident or did not pay his bill.
Do not expect to get much from someone who is uninsured. The saying goes, “You cannot get blood from a rock.”
49. Which County did the accident happen in?
Counties that consist of big cities are known for higher jury verdict awards than counties that consist of smaller cities or towns.
For example, every personal injury attorney would prefer going to trial in a personal injury case in Hillsborough County instead of Lee or Collier County.
Verdicts are simply higher in Hillsborough County.
Counties in northern Florida (generally heavy Republican areas) such as Holmes County are known for having smaller jury verdicts, and thus smaller settlements. But at the end of the day, the value of your case largely depends upon the facts of your case.
If you were injured on a cruise ship and the ship touched an American port, there is a great chance that your lawsuit with need to be filed in Miami, regardless of where you sailed from.
50. Whether you have an attorney
In order to get a fair offer, or an offer at all, sometimes the injured person will need to sue. A trial date is usually the best pressure to get an unwilling tortfeasor or its insurer to pay the fair value of the case.
I had a case against Sedano’s supermarket in Miami where a customer slipped and fell on the sales floor. He claimed that the grocery store’s negligence in failing to keep its floor clean caused him to have two (2) skin grafts to his lower leg.
I tried to settle the case before litigation, but neither Sedano’s nor its insurer offered any money.
I filed a lawsuit and got a trial date. We litigated hard. A couple of months before trial I settled with the supermarket’s insurer, Crum & Forster, for $300,000.
Crum & Forster is an excellent insurer. This is just one of the many cases that I filed a lawsuit after negotiations failed.
51. Do you have an experienced Florida injury lawyer?
Insurance adjusters may look at an attorney’s track record when deciding how much to offer their client. If your attorney lacks experience handling Florida accident cases, this may decrease the offer.
Florida ethics rules prevent lawyers from saying that they are the best. Attorneys are not allowed to claim to be the “best Florida injury lawyer” or “best Miami accident attorney.”
However, there are many factors that can help you choose a good Florida accident lawyer.
52. Video of the Incident
If a picture speaks a thousand words, then a video speaks ten thousand. We had a slip and fall case that settled for $300,000 against a supermarket. The accident occurred in Miami. Before I sued the supermarket, they gave me some of the surveillance video that captured the fall. After we sued them, they produced more video. The additional video helped this grocery store accident case.
The video showed that our client’s crutch glided when it made contact with the floor.
We settled a case for $210,000 where our client fell down at a restaurant in Dade County, Florida and broke his wrist. Once we sued the restaurant, they gave us video surveillance that showed our client’s fall.
Video can make or break a case. As soon as possible after an incident, you should send the prospective defendants a written request to preserve any and all video of the entire premises where the incident occurred.
Some ambulances have a built-in video that records whenever there is a hard brake. So, you should ask a commercial driver to preserve and send you video of the crash.
If you slipped and fell or were injured on a county bus, there may be video that shows your movement (if any) at the time of the accident. If the impact (your fall or movement) was not that hard, this can destroy or hurt your personal injury case.
Even if you received a lot of medical treatment, if a video shows that you hardly make contact with something or moved at the time of an accident, you may have a very difficult case.
53. Exaggerating your injuries.
Tell your doctors about all of your pain, but do not be dramatic. The last thing you want is for your medical records to say that you have excruciating pain yet your gym records show that you were working out every day.
Once a lawsuit is filed the defendant or its insurance company can basically get (subpoena) more information than you can ever imagine, and they often do.
Expect the insurance company to hire a private investigator to follow you. From the moment of your accident forward, you should prepare as if the case is going to trial. Do not exaggerate your injuries.
Assume that from the second you are injured in your accident, every moment has been recorded by a private investigator hired by the insurance company. Apart from being morally wrong, exaggerating will hurt your case much more than it helps.
Yet I still hear stories of injured people exaggerating their injury in an attempt to get more money. It always backfires.
In an abundance of caution, act as if the defendant or claims adjuster has access to all of your social media accounts including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Vine.
They will be looking to find you doing activities that you say that you cannot do since the accident. The insurance company will be looking to see or hear you talking about how good life is.
They will be looking to see if you are out dancing at a club when you are telling your doctors that your pain is debilitating.
On the flip side, defendant’s post things on social media than can cripple their case.
Do not lie! Don’t lie to your attorney. Or your doctors. Don’t lie to the insurance company.
You may think that it is going to help you get more money but it can kill your entire case. The court can dismiss your case if you lie about something material (important to the heart of your case) such as pre-existing injuries.
55. How Minor or Severe Was the Impact?
If you are trying to prove that someone’s negligence caused your injury, the adjuster will be looking at the severity of the impact. This is true whether you were in a car accident, truck accident, slip or trip and fall, or other type of accident.
A claims adjuster may argue that it is questionable whether an item that is not “heavy,” could have injured you if you were struck by it. You should never bring this up to the claims adjuster, or agree with their stance.
The above picture is of an 18 wheeler truck that crashed into the back of an 18 wheeler that my client was driving. My client claimed that his shoulder surgery was caused by the accident. I settled the case for $210,000 before a lawsuit was filed. If the damage to both trucks was minor, the liability insurer would have argued that my client’s shoulder surgery was unrelated to the accident.
The liability insurer’s argument is stronger in cases where it is possible that your injury is not acute, such as shoulder or rotator cuff tear, herniated disc, ankle tear, bulging disc, neck injury, back injury, carpal tunnel, a meniscus tear.
The claims adjuster has a weaker argument if you have a bone fracture (broken bone) as it is generally the result of trauma.
Some situations where a liability insurer may argue that the object that struck you wasn’t heavy enough to cause injuries are if you are struck by a:
– Disco ball at a nightclub that comes loose and falls on you. I worked on a case like this many years ago.
– Object that falls on you or is pushed into you by an employee, such as a vacuum, a carpet cleaning service wand, or other device at a hotel, store or somewhere else.
I settled a case for $25,000 where my client was struck by a carpet cleaning wand. A carpet cleaning company employee used it to steam clean my client’s carpet.
One of the adjuster’s arguments was that it is possible that the cleaning wand wasn’t heavy. The said it could not have caused a tear in my client’s ankle.
If you are involved in a minor impact car accident where you have soft tissue injuries, be prepared to confront the insurance company defense of “Your injuries couldn’t have been caused by this minor accident.”
56. Do You Have Minor Children?
If an injured person has one or more minor children, this may increase the value of their case. This is because an injury may make it more difficult to take care of your minor child.
Moreover, if you have a special needs child, this may also increase the case.
But don’t take my word for it.
In one case, the judge said:
Plaintiff argues… about the impact of those injuries on her life should come into evidence because it is relevant to the valuation of Acosta’s claim and the reasonableness of GEICO’s settlement overtures.
Specifically, GEICO knew that Acosta’s injuries impaired her ability to take care of her special needs daughter, and Plaintiff likely will argue that GEICO should have taken that into consideration when valuing Acosta’s claim… The Court agrees that such evidence is relevant to the issue of GEICO’s valuation of Acosta’s claim.
That quote was from Hines v. GEICO Indemnity Company, Dist. Court, MD Florida 2016.
In addition, an injured person’s claim value may increase with the number of minor children that he or she have. So all other things being equal, someone with 3 kids may get more than someone with 1 child.
The theory is that an accident has impacted your life more if you have several children, as opposed to one, who you cannot enjoy spending time with after an accident.
If you have multiple minor children, it tends to show that you are family oriented. Jurors and adjusters tend to like family oriented people because it may show compassion and stability.
I am not trying to minimize the negative impact on your relationship with your only child if you only have one. More children means more potential witnesses to talk about the extent and effect of your injury on your lifestyle.
This can be great if your children can articulate the limitations that the accident has had on your activities of daily living including, but not limited, spending quality time with your kids because you were in pain or disabled.
More kids also means more potential witnesses to the accident, and as you will see further below, witnesses can make or break a case.
57. Where do you live?
The city that you live in may impact the value of your case. Some locals do not take kindly to outsiders. For example, Key West, Florida, is a small community and its juries are known to be harsh to non-residents.
However, if you have a great case, you may still be able to get a good result in Key West.
For example, an ambulance crashed into some one driving a moped. It resulted in crushed facial bones and fractures of the vertebrae in the man’s spine. Despite Key West being a tough venue, the injured person got a $2.1 Million verdict. (That was not my case.)
Key West is just one example of a city where juries may potentially be tough on outsiders. However, there are also many other cities throughout the state of Florida where the same may be true.
I have settled several cases for people who were in an accident in the Keys. In those cases, another driver crashed into my client. As a result, my client was injured. Key West juries are known to be more sympathetic to residents.
58. Do you have children?
Injured claimants who have children are likely to be awarded more money for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. This is particularly true for those with minor children.
Adjusters are sympathetic to parents who cannot carry or play with their child because of their injuries which were caused by the negligence of another.
Grandparents may also get additional points if they now have injuries that make it difficult for them to enjoy time with their grandchildren.
In order for this to hold true, the injured person must have a relationship with their child. So a father who has never acknowledged paternity or provided child support generally won’t get any additional credit for pain and suffering even if he has a kid(s).
59. The date of the incident.
The date of the accident may affect an injury claim for 3 reasons.
Laws change, which may affect the burden of proof. For example, a few years ago Florida’s slip and fall law was changed to now require the injured person to prove actual or constructive notice if you fall on a transitory foreign substance at a business.
The date of the accident also affects the time that you have to sue for negligence in Florida.
If the date of your incident may make it such that you complete your treatment toward the end of the year. If this happens, you should send the carrier your demand before the end of the year. Your case may then have a chance of settling quicker. It may also settle for a larger amount.
Liability insurers like to close our cases. This includes settling them. They need to close their books out by the end of the year.
You need to get all documentation that supports your claim as soon as possible. Send it to the carrier. This is so they can properly sets its reserves in time.
60. The exact time of the accident.
The time of the accident may be used to verify whether you were on a cell phone when you were injured.
A claims adjuster may discount the value of your case by your comparative negligence if he believes that your cell phone use distracted you and caused your injury.
An adjuster may think that you are at fault because certain hours of the night may be associated with drinking or drugging. For example, an adjuster may think that you may have been on drugs or drunk if your accident happened at 4 a.m. and you were going or coming to a party.
61. Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
Have you been convicted of a crime, other than a juvenile adjudication, which under the law under which you were convicted was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of 1 year, or that involved dishonesty or a false statement regardless of the punishment?
If the answer is yes, it may decrease the value of your case. That being said, I settled a case for $300,000 for a past political prisoner of foreign country.
I also settled a claim for nearly $200,000 for a past convicted felon. Those are just a couple of examples of the many injured people who I have represented who have been convicted of felonies.
Don’t think that the liability adjuster won’t spend $24.00 to run a Florida criminal history information search on you. You should assume that they will.
I often run a search on my clients, particularly if we are considering filing a lawsuit or if we have filed suit, so that I can properly evaluate the settlement value of the case.
If you were convicted of a crime while you were a minor, it should not affect your injury case.
Example of how some past crimes do not affect your Florida injury case value
Assume a claimant accepted a withhold of adjudication and probation for misdemeanor theft. He successfully complete probation. His file was sealed.
Since he was given a withhold of adjudication, it means that he has not been convicted of a crime. (See Rule 3.692 of the Florida rules of Criminal Procedure and Florida Statutes 943-943.059).
If the defense attorney asks the injured person if he has been convicted of a crime, his answer should be no. Therefore, the jury will never get to hear about it and it does not decrease the case value.
62. Your employer.
Your employer can be a great witness in an injury case. A supervisor can make a great before and after witness. He or she may be able to talk about how you have been affected by the accident. An adjuster may be more likely to believe a co-worker than a family member.
If you are self-employed, then you may have a more difficult time showing your wage loss than if you a W-2 employee.
If you have health insurance through your employer, then the type of company (e.g. large company vs. small company or governmental entity) that you work for may have an effect on settlement value. Your employer’s status may affect whether you can present the full billed medical charges to the jury.
It may also affect the amount of money, if any, which you may need to repay the health insurance plan from the settlement. I discuss this further below when I talk about health insurance in #35.
63. Does the careless party have a self insured retention (SIR)?
Florida Car, Truck, Motorcycle and all Vehicular Accidents
If a negligent driver caused your injury in a Florida accident, and any potential defendant has an SIR, you may be able to make a claim against any uninsured motorist coverage (to which you are an insured) from dollar one. This is the only situation in Florida personal injury law where the claimant may be able to collect the same damages twice.
I settled a case for $210,000. A truck driver’s negligence caused my client’s shoulder injury in a crash. The negligent driver was driving a truck for Customized Trucking Services, which is a division of Crowley. The careless driver was covered under the Jacksonville, Florida trucking company’s liability insurance.
The policy was with Travelers Insurance and it had an SIR. We immediately made a claim against the uninsured motorist (UM) coverage insurer, Progressive Insurance, for the $10,000 limits.
Progressive old me that my client had no case for UM coverage. Progressive then paid us the $10,000 limits before we even received a dollar from the trucking company or its insurer.
Tougher to Get Money
It may be tougher to get money from a company that has a SIR because the company is settling the case with its own money. Insurers often have an easier time parting with their money than companies that have a SIR.
However, we have still settled cases against companies who have an SIR for as much as $210,000.
Which companies may have a SIR?
- American Airlines arena
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Big Lots
- Buy Buy Baby
- Carnival Cruise lines
- Dadeland Mall (Simon malls)
- Denny’s (corporate)
- Dolphin Mall
- Fresh Market supermarket
- Gap store
- Hyatt hotels (corporate)
- NAPA auto parts stores
- Petco and Petsmart
- Publix Supermarket
- Royal Caribbean
- Sawgrass Mills
- Sedano’s Supermarket
- Sun Life Stadium
- Sunset Place Mall
- Target Stores
- Walt Disney World in Orlando
- Whole Foods
- Winn Dixie Stores
- Universal Orlando Resort (Universal Studios)
- Large hotels, resorts and motels
- Large malls.
- and much more.
64. Did you consume alcoholic beverages, or take drugs or medications, within 12 hours before incident?
65. Pain Medication Taken Since the Accident
I know defense doctors who will agree that prescribing a narcotic to an injured person is a significant decision. An example of a narcotic is Lortab. They will agree it is significant because of the risks.
Lortab is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Defense doctors will agree that if someone has been taking Lortab for two years, it would indicate that he or she has been in moderate to severe pain for two years.
Some defense doctors will say that they cannot measure pain. They cannot tell what pain someone has or does not have. Some defense doctors will say that they cannot say that someone will not have pain when they are older.
The full value of an injured person’s claim increases as they take more narcotics for the pain.
66. Lighting Conditions
The lighting conditions may affect your personal injury claim value, regardless of the type of accident.
Slip, Trip and Fall Cases
The above picture is from a personal injury case where my client, tripped over a dangerous curb and fell in a Miami Beach apartment complex courtyard, and fractured her hip. I paid $1,200 of my own law firm money to retain an engineering expert to take pictures and measurements of the dangerous curb and the lighting.
As is standard in many Florida injury lawyers’ fee contracts, my contract states that the client is not responsible for costs if we do not recover money.
Motor Vehicle Accident Cases
I settled a case $110,000 where a car hit a pedestrian in Homestead, Miami-Dade County, Florida and she suffered a facial fracture. The incident occurred during daylight hours so the full value of the case was not reduced due to lighting.
I have handled many other cases where lighting did not increase my client’s fault in the case.
67. Your age
Find out why a claimant’s age may have a huge impact on an injury claim settlement value in an accident case (e.g. car crash, etc.).
68. Do You Make a Good Witness?
The quality of the plaintiff (person bring a personal injury claim) can have a big effect on the value of his or her case. This may affect the settlement value of a case pre-suit, particularly if you give a statement to the liability claims adjuster for the insurance company.
Speaking with the insurance company is one of the 3 things that you should never do after an accident, unless you have a duty to do so pursuant to your auto insurance contract. If you are an honest, emotionally stable, hard-working, nice person this will help your case.
Juries – and therefore claims adjusters – like people who despite their injuries do everything possible to get back into the workforce. If you are unlikable, dishonest, angry, greedy, you should expect to get less money in your personal injury case than someone who is likeable.
69. Your rate of pay.
Injured people who have a higher rate of pay tend to get larger settlements because they have a higher past lost wages, and larger loss of future earning capacity. In Florida, there is no cap on the amount of money that can be awarded for lost past wages or future loss of earning capacity.
High wage earners may have wage claims that can reach the millions.
Regardless of the type of injury case that you have, a witness can make or break a case. For example, in 2008 I represented a woman who slipped and fell on water in the lobby/cafeteria area in a Hyatt Hotel in Doral, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
She tore her quadriceps (thigh muscle). Zurich Insurance Group insured the Doral hotel. I sent the Zurich claim adjuster my client’s medical bills and records.
The argument was that the hotel was negligent because the floor had been mopped before my client’s fall.
I also said that the employee failed to put up a warning sign.
The adjuster offered nothing for my client’s personal injury claim. He agreed to pay $5,000 under the medical payments (MedPay) coverage in the hotel’s insurance policy.
My client told me that her co-worker/friend, Gina, could testify that she saw my client lying on the floor in pain after her alleged fall.
Gina, also said that before the fall she (Gina) saw a hotel employee mop the area, but failed to place a warning sign in the area.
I drafted an affidavit and sent it to the witness. Once I gave the affidavit to the insurance company, they eventually increased their offer to $23,000.
Prior to them receiving the affidavit, they wouldn’t offer a penny.
Tip: Get an affidavit from every witness as soon as possible. As time passes after an accident and emotions simmer down, some witnesses become less likely to sign an affidavit.
Witnesses’ memories fade, they may die or move away and become difficult to contact.
71. Is the Insurer Using Claims Evaluation Software for Bodily Injury Claims?
Some liability insurers use Colossus, which is a software that evaluates bodily injury claims so that the offers can be consistent. The adjuster will answer questions about the injured person’s medical treatment, degree of pain and suffering, degree of permanent impairment to the injured person’s body, and the effect on the claimant’s lifestyle.
Once the adjuster answers these questions, Colossus will give him or her a summary of the claim, which includes a settlement range. Colossus is used for both personal and commercial lines insurance.
A personal lines insurer covers personal auto or motorcycle insurance, boat and homeowner’s insurance.
Examples of a claim where a personal lines insurer provides liability coverage are accidents arising from a private passenger car accident, motorcycle wreck, truck crash, dog bite, slip or trip and fall at a home. The personal lines insurers that most people are familiar with are State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, USAA as well as many other insurers.
A commercial lines claim would be a personal injury claim for a slip and fall or other injury at a business establishment. It also includes an accident involving a truck used for business purposes.
The problem with Colossus is that is lacks the human component.
It has difficulty or does not incorporate the likeability of the claimant. This can be a huge factor that affects the settlement value of a Florida injury case. For smaller injury claims, Colossus may be used more frequently.
For larger claims, senior adjusters will evaluate the claim based on their experience and put less weight on Colossus’s input. Some insurers use Fault Evaluator software that helps adjusters through the auto accident fault determination process. It gives consistent settlements.
Senior adjusters rely more on their gut and experience than newer adjusters. I rely on my 15 years of experience of determining fault in auto accidents.
After handling hundreds of Florida auto accident cases, I see the same types of accidents time and time again. I have attended hundreds of hours of continuing legal education on Florida injury and auto accident cases which has also helped me evaluate cases.
Adjusters also attend many seminars.
72. Treatment with a hospital vs. doctor after the accident
All things equal, if someone’s negligence caused an accident and the injured person goes to the hospital for the initial visit as opposed to a doctor, the full value of the case is higher.
73. Social Media Accounts
Your social media accounts can affect the settlement value of a Florida injury case. On January 23, 2015, the professional ethics committee of the Florida bar issued Proposed Advisory Opinion 14-1 which would allow an injured person to use the highest level of privacy setting on the client’s social media pages.
Just because you make your Facebook or other social media settings private and only allow friends or followers to see your pictures, does not mean that the adjuster, defense attorney or jury will not get to see them. Nucci v. Target Corp, Case No. 4D14-138.
Let’s say that you were the man in the above picture, and you were making a claim for pain and suffering from accident. If so, would you want the insurance adjuster to see the above picture?
If your answer is no, then you would not want the jury to see this picture as well. Does the man look like he is in pain?
74. Conflicting Accounts (He said, She said.)
In a personal injury case, the victim must prove that the defendant acted negligently. Sometimes the parties to the dispute give conflicting accounts of how the incident happened.
For example, a customer may claim that a store employee assaulted him or her.
The customer and the employee may have two different versions of events. The store employee may say he was acting in self-defense. The customer may claim he was attacked for virtually no reason.
When this happens, witness testimony is huge. But if there are no witnesses, it may boil down to the credibility of each party involved. Sometimes the injured person should seriously consider reducing the full value of the case if they want to settle.
This may very well be true if there are conflicting stories and no witnesses.
75. Did you sign a pre-injury release?
If an adult signed a pre-injury release, he or she may have no case. You need to thoroughly examine the pre-accident release.
76. Whether you use an Florida Injury Settlement Calculator.
If someone’s carelessness caused your injury in Florida, do not rely on an online settlement calculator. There are more than 5 huge problems with injury settlement calculators.
Odds are that it will not give you an amount that reflects the true settlement value of your case. That being said, if someone’s carelessness caused injury to another, I use my one of a kind Florida injury settlement calculator as just one (1) part of my analysis when deciding the fair value of a case.
It is the only injury calculator that I have seen online that specifically applies to Florida accident cases. But even my calculator has many limitations.
Factors that apply to specific types of injury claims
There are also more than 15 Important factors that affect the settlement value of an auto accident injury claim.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.
1 See Davenport v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 3:11-cv-632-J-JBT, 2012 WL 555759, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 21, 2012); see also Patterson v. Turner Constr. Co., 931 N.Y.S.2d 311, 312 (N.Y. App. 2011) (holding that the “postings on plaintiff’s online Facebook account, if relevant, are not shielded from discovery merely because plaintiff used the service’s privacy settings to restrict access”).