Many people come to us after an injury with one question in mind: how much is my case worth? Here's a step-by-step explanation of the elements that can affect your ability to collect payment for your accident, as well as how your case progresses through the legal process.
Key Factors in Your Personal Injury Case
There are three major elements of a personal injury case: liability, causation, and damages. These factors have a huge impact on the value of your case, and each one is like a hurdle that must be overcome before you receive compensation.
As your personal injury attorneys, the first step we must take is to determine who's responsible for causing your accident. This is more straightforward in some types of cases than others.
For example, if you were injured in a rear-end car accident, the driver who struck you from behind is the liable party. However, if you suffered a slip or fall on someone else’s property, the negligent party may be more difficult to identify. It takes a thorough investigation into the incident for us to determine who caused your accident and as a result, who's responsible for your injury costs.
You should know that Florida law allows you to collect compensation even you share some portion of blame for your accident. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, the amount you're awarded is reduced by your portion of fault. For example, if you're awarded $100,000 and found to be 10 percent liable, you'll only receive $90,000.
Once we have enough evidence to establish who's at fault, your case moves on to the next hurdle.
We have to show clear evidence that the at-fault party’s misconduct directly led to your injuries. This isn't always straightforward.
Let’s say a driver struck you from behind and you suffered a herniated disc. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may agree that the insured driver caused the accident, but might also claim that your herniated disc was a pre-existing injury unrelated to the crash. It may take a great deal of proof—such as medical records and testimony from expert witnesses—to establish a link between the at-fault person’s negligence and your injury.
Most injury victims are only concerned with the damages portion of their claims—their medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering. It's understandable, since taking time off work and receiving ongoing medical treatment after a sudden accident is a significant burden.
However, from a legal standpoint, it doesn't matter how much you lost due to an injury unless you can prove the first two elements of your case.
After we've succeeded in all other elements of the case, we begin to demonstrate the extent of your injuries and how they affect your day-to-day life. Every injury is unique and can have various complications depending on the lifestyle and habits of the victim.
For example, the loss of a pinky finger has different effects on a singer and a concert pianist. We recommend that you keep a diary to write down all the difficulties you experience due to your injuries, as it provides a more complete picture of their impact and how they're likely to affect your future.
There are two categories of damages in an injury case: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the calculable costs that a victim has already lost, such as the total costs of medical treatment and the amount of wages you were unable to earn. Non-economic damages, also called pain and suffering, are awarded on top of out-of-pocket losses.
The sooner we begin working on your case, the better your chances of collecting compensation. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident, the dedicated attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can listen to your story and advise you on your legal options—and we don't collect payment from you until your case is won. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up your first consultation.