If you do not report your accident immediately after it happens, this may decrease – or wipe out – the value of a potential personal injury settlement in Florida.
Claims adjusters use probabilities when deciding how much to pay a claimant for an injury claim.
A claims adjuster may reduce his settlement offer by a certain percentage because he knows that if you case went to a jury – most don’t – they may not believe that the accident happened:
1. In the manner that you say it did.
2. Where you said it happened.
3. When you said it happened.
It is possible that the claims adjuster may reduce the settlement value of your case by 25-50% or so if you did not report the accident when it happened. Here is an example.
Let’s assume that you were exiting the booth of a restaurant (e.g. McDonald’s, Subway, Dennys, etc.) in Miami or any city in Florida and the booth tipped up in the air and sent you flying to the floor. Maybe you slipped and fell on water or a grape on the floor of Publix or Walmart. You have some neck or back pain, but it is not horrible.
You didn’t report the incident to a restaurant or store employee. You left the restaurant or store and went to the urgent care or emergency room a few hours later or the next day. The hospital tells you to follow-up with an orthopedic doctor for your neck or back pain.
After you report this incident to the restaurant, supermarket or Walmart, they will most likely report this to their insurance company. The claims adjuster will probably discount (reduce) the value of your case 25-50% because you did not report the incident/accident to the restaurant when it happened.
Most of this example and article do not apply for a workers compensation claim against your employer if you were injured on the job in Florida.
If you’ve read my article on the settlement value of for pain and suffering for various injuries in Florida, you know that the full value of the pain and suffering component of a typical disc herniation in a Florida or cruise ship accident is $25,000 to $50,000. In Florida, the pain and suffering component – for settlement purposes – of a herniated disc is generally worth more than a bulging disc.
Because you did not report the accident when it happened, you should expect the claims adjuster to reduce the full value of the case by 25-50%. If you make a good witness (you are very honest, calm and friendly) perhaps he will reduce the value by 25% or so.
This is because people who make a better appearance are often awarded more money by juries. Cases are won and lost based on the credibility of the Plaintiff.
If you are less trustworthy, perhaps the claims adjuster will reduce his settlement offer by 50%. You should also expect the claims adjuster to argue that your disc herniation was not caused by the accident because you did not call 911 or notify a store employee immediately following your accident. A 911 call audio recording or transcript may be important to help you prove your claim, so you may want to request it.
The formula below will show you to figure out how much the case is worth. The formula below also assumes that you do not have any comparative fault. This formula also assumes that there was not an independent witness or surveillance camera that captured the incident/accident.
If there was an independent witnesses or surveillance video that captured the incident and you can gather this evidence, then perhaps the claims adjuster will not lower his settlement offer due to your failure to report the accident when it happened.
To figure out the possible settlement amount for this case, let’s use a figure that is in the higher end of the range of the settlement value for the pain and suffering component of a herniated disc. We’ll use $40,000. I took this from the range that I mentioned earlier.
For arguments sake, let’s assume that the claims adjuster will lower the settlement offer by 25% for your failure to report the incident immediately following it. We’ll assume that medical bills are $5,000 and you do not have lost wages. The basic formula to determine the full value of a personal injury case is:
Full value = Out of Pocket Medical bills + Pain and Suffering + Lost Wages
Let’s plug-in the above numbers from the example:
Full value = $5,000 + $40,000 + 0
So the full value of the case is $45,000 but…
Now we need to reduce the value of the case by the fact that you did not report the incident. The formula to do so is:
Case value = Full value x (1.00 – X% reduction for not reporting the accident when it happened)
We will substitute .25 for X% because .25 is the same as 25%. Remember, 25% was the percentage that I said the case value may be reduced because of your failure to report the claim when it happened.
Case value = $45,000 x (1 – .25)
Case value = $45,000 x (1 – .25)
Case is may be worth = $33,750
This is just an example and there are so many factors that can affect how much your case is worth.
Florida Workers’ Compensation – Injured Workers
How long do you have to report an accident in Florida to your employer?
You should report the accident as soon as possible, but no later than thirty (30) days. Otherwise, your workers’ compensation claim may be denied. Florida Statutes 440.185.
I have settled many claims for people who were injured but did not report the accident at the time that it happened or on the day that it happened.
I have settled many personal injury cases in Florida and on cruise ships. I want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. Call me now at (888) 594-3577 to Get a Free Consultation. There are No Fees or Costs Unless We Recover Money.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 2014 and has been completely revamped and updated.