If a passenger of a car in Florida was rear ended by an alleged drunk driver, in order to try to get the best car accident settlement in Florida, it is important to understand how you can try to value the case. For purposes of this article, assume that:
- The driver who caused the accident had a .21 BAC which is almost 3 times the legal limit.
- The passenger of the car was 26-year-old when the car he was in was rear ended.
- The car that the passenger was in was stopped at the time of the accident.
- The passenger’s skull was fractured and he had fractures to his face.
- The passenger has mild to moderate brain damage from the accident.
- Since the car accident, the injured passenger has difficulty concentrating and paying attention. He also has seizures.
- The passenger had to have surgery to the bones in his face and had plates put in his face.
- The passenger was a handyman
In a brain injury case, such as the one described above, the injured victim is entitled to make a claim for future medical bills.
When a brain injury victim needs to be on medication, needs treatment and attendant care for seizures for the future or rest of their life, the future medical bills may be millions of dollars.
If a brain injury accident victim can prove that the car accident caused their injury, they may be able to make a claim to get paid for the future medical bills (relating to the brain injury) for the future or rest of their life.
According to mortality tables, the average man is expected to live 78 years.
When an injured accident fractures their skull and has metal plates drilled into their face, they often experience a lot of pain and suffering. Lifetime seizures can also cause a lot of pain and suffering.
In Florida, someone injured in a car accident can make a claim – against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of the motor vehicle (car) that was at fault – for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, etc. resulting from a brain injury if, in most types of car accidents the injured person can prove that his or her injury is:
“Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.” (Florida Statute 627.737(b))”
In certain types of motor vehicle accidents, the injured person may not have to prove that his/her injuries are permanent in order to get pain and suffering. Those examples are not discussed here.
Looking at the example above, if you are 26 years old when you are have a brain injury from a car accident, you are allowed to make a claim for your future pain and suffering for about 52 years which would be the time that you are expected to live until.
I arrived at 52 years by applying the numbers above to the following formula:
(Life expectancy – Age at time of accident) = number of years that claim for pain and suffering pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience can be made for
(78 years -26 years)= 52 Years of future pain and suffering pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience
If another driver’s carelessness caused your accident, you may be able to make a claim for loss of future earning capacity.
In the scenario above, the passenger was 26 at the time of the accident and would have probably expected to work another 41 years as a handyman.
This is because the jury can consider that the average person who is expected to work until age 67 (retirement).
I gathered the above facts from a case which I did not handle. A jury in Broward County reached a verdict for $15.1 million.
Now, just because a jury awards an injured person millions of dollars it does not mean that the injured person will get that much money.
In order to get the $15.1 million dollars mentioned above, there generally needs to be enough insurance to collect that amount. Assume that the insurance policy for the at fault party in this case was only $100,000.00.
Then that is all the insurance company would have to pay, and the injured person would have to go after the at fault person personally. The reality is that most people don’t have enough money to pay a verdict like $15.1 million, let alone $10,000.00.
Now, assume that the injured passenger is arguing that the alleged drunk driver’s insurance company (Farmers) could have reached a settlement in the case for $100,000 (the policy limits of the alleged drunk driver’s insurance policy).
In order to legally make Farmers Insurance Company pay more than the $100,000, the passenger will have to prove in a separate trial that Farmers could have reached a settlement in the case for $100,000 but didn’t.
It will be interesting to see whether Farmers Insurance Company will reach a settlement with the injured pedestrian before a lawsuit is filed against them, or whether they will settle after a lawsuit is filed (or take the case to trial).
Farmers Insurance is part of Zurich Insurance. Farmers Insurance Group owns 21st Century Insurance.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in an accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat?
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