Married adults tend to get higher verdicts and settlements than those who are single. I am not referring to someone 24 years old or younger in the US.
This is because 24 years old is below the age of the average married adult in the US. 24 year olds are not expected to be married.
Injured adults who are married may get higher settlements in an injury claim if they have suffering and/or loss of enjoyment associated with not being able to enjoy time with their spouse due to an accident.
Married adults, who are 25 or older, tend to be more stable than those who are single. Stable people are more believable. Thus, married individuals may receive more money for suffering and loss of enjoyment of life than those who are single.
Jurors are allowed to determine the believability of a witness and the weight to be given to their testimony. Florida Civil Jury Instruction 2.2
Court Approves $4.5 Million Verdict for Brain Injury; Says Marriage Was Affected
In Hendry v. Zelaya, 841 So. 2d 572 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003), an appeals court approved a $4.5 million dollar jury verdict for pain and suffering for a skull fracture that required surgery, and a brain injury.
The court said “that his marriage has been affected by his injuries.” The hotel didn’t have enough security. This caused the customer to get hit by a bottle.
Effect of Length of Marriage
The length of your marriage may affect the value of your claim. Long marriages arguably show stability and therefore may make you more likeable to a jury.
Your case may be worth if you are living with your spouse, unless you are away for work or on military duty. This is because living together shows stability.
If you have previously been married, then a former spouse may be a witness in your claim. The defense attorney may ask her about your prior use of drugs, your prior claims history and injury in addition to many other areas.
The amount of your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life increases if you cannot have, or have difficulty having, sex as a result of an accident. The adjuster may ask how many times you had sex a week before the accident and compare that to how many times you have sex after the accident.
The full value of loss of enjoyment of life increases as the difference in the amount of sex you have as a result of the accident increases.
It is easier to prove your losses if you are married than if you have on and off again relationships. This is because your spouse may make a better witness than people with who you have short intimate relationships.
There are many more important factors than marital status in an injury case, so single individuals still can have valuable claims.
Keep in mind that your spouse may have a claim for loss of consortium as well.
Settlement Check and Release May Include Spouse’s Name
If you settle a personal injury case with the liability insurer, and you are married, they will ask you for the name of your spouse. If you are married and have a good relationship with your spouse, this is no big deal. But if you are on bad terms with your spouse, this can present problems.
If the settlement value of your case exceeds the BI liability insurance limits, you can demand that the insurer not include your spouse’s name on the check. Auto insurers are likely to accommodate your request.
If they fail to honor your request, they are failing to act in good faith and may face exposure above the policy limits.
If your case value is less than the BI limits, don’t expect the adjuster to agree to your request to remove your spouse’s name from the release and settlement check.
This is true regardless of whether you have a car or truck crash case, or a slip and fall. You can try making the request to the adjuster’s supervisor.
Tell the Insurer That Under Florida Statute 627.7403 They Have No Risk
Your spouse won’t be able to sue since he/she doesn’t have a [your] case to sue in. The adjuster faces no risk by agreeing to a settlement release without your spouse.
File Consumer Complaint if Insurer Won’t Agree to a Release Without Spouse
In Florida, if the adjuster will not agree to this reasonable request, you can file a consumer complaint against the insurer. As a courtesy, you should give the adjuster notice that you are going to file a consumer complaint.
If a self insured company’s caused your injury, do not expect them to agree to remove your spouse from a settlement release and check. There is a good chance that they will not remove the spouse from the check and release because they do not face excess financial exposure.
Some of those companies have a self-insured retention (SIR) retention. This means that they have liability insurance above a certain deductible.
Over 86 Factors Affect the Value of a Florida Injury Case
Marital status is just one of the more than 86 factors affecting injury settlements. It may affect the settlement and amount.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated.