Two Factors That Influence The Value of a Personal Injury Claim
One of the first questions that injured victims ask their attorneys is, “What is my claim worth?” This question is not a surprise; after all, at this point, the severity of the victim’s damages are just starting to reveal themselves. There are massive hospital bills to pay, property damage, ongoing medical care and future procedures to pay for, lost wages due to an inability to work or work at regular capacity, childcare and housekeeping expenses that did not exist before the incident, and much more. There are a lot of elements that go into determining what your settlement or lawsuit verdict will be. For example, Florida adheres to a comparative negligence doctrine, which means that the victim’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of their own fault. This means that if you are found to be 20 percent at fault, your claim will be reduced by 20 percent of its value. Another factor that can have a huge influence on how much compensation you receive for your injuries is the size of the at-fault party’s insurance policy. If the maximum compensation that their policy will pay out is $100,000, it may not matter that your damages are worth ten times that much because unless your attorney is able to reach beyond the policy limits, the max is far under the value of the claim.
The Victim’s Age, Occupation, Education, and Annual Income
For some victim’s the largest part of their insurance claim is lost earning capacity. This is often the single most important part of a wrongful death claim—calculating the projected earnings of the deceased victim had they lived out their lives instead of being killed by the other party’s negligent actions. Whether the claim is a personal injury or wrongful death claim, the victim’s age, occupation, education, and current or former annual income can have a significant influence on the value of the claim. For example, if a debilitating injury is estimated to reduce the victim’s earning ability by 50 percent for the next year, that lost income must be included in the claim’s value. A more complicated scenario would be—the injury is predicted to reduce the victim’s earning ability for the remainder of their life. As such, all of the following must be accounted for:
- Education and other vocational skills, including any education they were currently enrolled in (for example, if the victim was half way through medical school);
- Age of the victim, in order to get an estimate of how many years they lost out on earnings; and
- Current salary and projected future salary of the victim.
As such, a 75-year-old retired victim would have zero lost future income (not including lost social security and/or pension if the victim passed away and the claim is that of wrongful death), a 56-year-old mechanic would have a moderate degree of lost future income, and a 39-year-old neurosurgeon would have a significant degree of lost future income.
Whether the Victim Took an Ambulance, Helicopter, or Other Emergency Vehicle To the Hospital
The cost of an ambulance varies greatly, particularly because of mileage. However, horror stories such as a man’s two-mile ambulance ride that cost $2,700, often scare seriously injured victims away from hopping in the back of the ambulance that showed up at the site of their accident or incident. However, it is in your best interest to take an ambulance if you think you need it, or even if you are unsure—victims are often in a state of shock after a serious injury. Taking an ambulance, flight for life, or other emergency vehicle to the hospital vastly increases the value of a personal injury claim. Why? Because it is yet more proof that the injuries that the victim suffered are severe. According to WebMD, the median cost of an “air ambulance trip” (helicopter) is just shy of $40,000. The victim should not only be compensated for this massive expense, but the severity of the injuries to warrant such an expensive, drastic trip to the hospital helps prove how serious the injuries, and therefore pain and suffering / disability, really are.
Call a Naples Personal Injury Attorney
The best way to get an idea of what your claim is worth and how much you can expect to be compensated for is to speak with an experienced Naples personal injury attorney. Call the Naples personal injury attorneys at The Law offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. today at 239-649-8050 to schedule your free consultation.