As a Melbourne accident attorney, it’s my job to help injury victims get compensated for their losses. The first step of any injury compensation case is reviewing the situation with the client. When initially discussing a case with a potential client, some of the first questions they will ask is, “Am I eligible for compensation?” and “How much compensation will I receive?” These questions may seem simple, but the answer is often pretty complex. Here, let’s try and answer these questions through the context of compensatory damages available in the State of Florida.
The Many Types of Compensatory Damages in Florida
First, it’s important to note that there are all sorts of types of losses for which one can be compensated in Florida. Most people’s minds typically shift straight to economic losses, such as loss of income or medical expenses, but there is a wider spectrum of damages available in another major category. This other category is called non-economic damages.
Economic damages, as mentioned above, include compensation for loss of income, damaged property, medical costs, and lost opportunity. These types of damages are pretty straight forward. The law looks to place the person who suffered back in the position they would have been, had they not been injured. It’s easy to determine what is owed for medical costs — one only need look to doctors’ bills and receipts. Similarly, in cases of damaged property, one will just need to determine the value of the property and the cost of repair or replacement.
Typically, the same can be said for loss of income: how much work did the victim miss, and how much money would he or she otherwise have received during this period? However, if the injury results in a permanent inability to work, the amount of lost income is much harder to determine. In this case, courts look to a variety of factors to calculate the victim’s loss of wage earning capacity. These factors include:
- Extent of actual physical impairment;
- Claimant’s age;
- Industrial history;
- Education of claimant;
- Inability to obtain work of a type which claimant can perform in light of his after-injury condition;
- Wages actually being earned after the injury (a factor entitled to great weight);
- Claimant’s ability to compete in the open labor market the remainder of his life, including the burden of pain, or inability to perform the required labor;
- Claimant’s continued employment in the same employ.
While economic damages tend to be straight forward, non-economic damages are often much more complex. The most common types of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. These types of non-economic damages are complicated because, unlike medical bills and lost income, there is no way to quantify their value. Determining the compensation value of an individual’s personal pain and suffering is a completely subjective endeavor. This is because only the victim truly knows the extent to which they are suffering from physical pain or emotional harm.
Although determining non-economic damages for pain and suffering is largely subjective, the law does look to non-abstract factors in calculating their value. Some of these factors include:
- the severity of the injury;
- the type of medical treatment received;
- the length of the recover; and
- other long term consequences.
How is the Amount of Damages Ultimately Determined?
In some cases, the amount of damages is easily quantified, and all parties are able to agree to a settlement. However, in other cases — and more often in cases of non-economic damages — the amount of compensation will be disputed in whole or part by either party. In such a situation, the case will go to trial. At trial, both parties will present their arguments, and the amount of compensation awarded to the claimant will ultimately be decided by a jury.
Find Out if You’re Entitled to Compensation Today
Whether you’ve been injured in a car crash, motorcycle accident, by a slip and fall, or by some other cause of negligence, you probably already know that you may be eligible for compensation. But what types of compensation are available in your case, and how much can you be awarded? These questions can be answered by speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer. For a free consultation, contact Collingsworth Law at (321) 222-0234.