One of the first things our Plantation injury lawyers are asked by new or prospective clients is, “What is my injury case worth?” That is actually a pretty complex question, but we may be able to give a ballpark estimate fairly early on. What you should absolutely avoid, though, are accepting any personal injury settlement offers without discussing it first with your attorney. That’s because it’s very common for injury case defendants and insurers to toss out Florida personal injury settlement offers that may seem like a lot at first blush, but in fact are much lower than to what you might actually be entitled.
Personal injury settlement offers are made by defendants (or more likely, the insurance companies representing those defendants) or plaintiffs in order to settle the case prior to a trial. Civil injury trials are time-consuming and expensive, and both sides have an interest in avoiding them if at all possible. That doesn’t mean Plantation injury lawyers should be quick to settle. We recognize that often the first offer made by insurers is not the best and final offer. Your lawyer should have a strong sense of how much your claim is worth as well as the tactics often employed by defendants in these cases.
This is especially important because of provisions of Florida law that penalize parties who reject reasonable personal injury settlement offers and end up with virtually the same or worse outcome at trial.
Florida Personal Injury Settlement Offer Statute
F.S. 768.79 indicates that in any civil action for damages, if a defendant files an offer of judgment or settlement offer that isn’t accepted within 30 days by the plaintiff, the defendant will be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney’s fees if the final judgment is one that:
- Finds the defendant was not liable for the injury;
- Is at least 25 percent less than the offer made to the plaintiff.
On the other hand, if plaintiff files a demand for judgment or settlement offer that is not accepted by the defendant within 30 days, and plaintiff recovers an amount that is at least 25 percent greater than that offer, he or she will be entitled to recover reasonable costs and attorney’s fees from the defendant.
This is why it is so imperative that your Plantation personal injury lawyer conduct a thorough assessment of claim valuation and the likelihood of any comparative fault finding before entering pre-trial settlement negotiations. Of course, no injury attorney can predict the future, but one who has a wealth of experience and understanding of the law is more likely to provide you with good advice in this regard.
Factors in Valuation of Your Claim
There are many factors that play a role in how much your personal injury claim is worth, which is how we determine whether the pretrial settlement offers submitted by the defense are fair. Although you may see websites that offer to help you calculate your damages just by plugging in a few numbers, it’s often not so simple. They may give you a very vague estimate, but they often fail to take into account comparative negligence, which is your percentage of fault that will proportionately reduce your damages. For example, if we estimate your total damages are $100,000, but you are 30 percent at-fault, the most you could receive for your injuries would be $70,000.
Other factors your personal injury lawyer will consider are:
- Severity of your injuries;
- Exact nature of medical treatment you have received;
- How much treatment it is anticipated you will need;
- Permanent effects;
- Impact to your daily life.
We will also look at whether punitive damages (a punishment for egregious conduct by defendant that could double or triple your damage award) could be a possibility.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
F.S. 768.79, Offer of Judgment and Demand for Judgment, Florida Statutes
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Florida Spinal Injury Cord Injury Attorney: Citrus County Woman Among First Paralyzed Patients to Walk Again, Oct. 31, 2018, Plantation Injury Lawyer Blog