Everything you need to know about how to prove pain and suffering in your Florida injury case
Accidents are just that: accidents. No one sets out to be involved in an accident, but with every type of accident that is some level of neglect. That neglect can come from a motorist who was texting while they were driving and rammed into your car. Neglect can also come from a grocery store that doesn’t clean up a spill, which leads to you taking a nasty fall.
When neglect has been determined, then it’s in your best interest to seek a financial remedy. You can earn that through a personal injury lawsuit which will compensate you for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Different types of personal injury damages
In Florida, a judge or jury will consider 2 different levels of damages. These can both be applied to the same accident.
Economic damages are those damages that can be easily assigned a monetary value. For instance, when a car is damaged, it has a value attributed at the time of the accident. Medical expenses and lost wages are other quantifiable economic damages that can be part of a settlement or award.
Non-economic damages are more subjective. This is where the area of pain and suffering comes into play. While very real to you, pain and suffering is considered subjective because everyone’s reaction to an accident and injury will be different. Someone might develop depression or symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while others might be prevented from simple pleasures like lifting a grandchild.
How to calculate pain and suffering
A lawyer will know how to prove and calculate your pain and suffering by looking at several factors. These factors can include:
- How severe was your injury?
- Will there be an ongoing need for medical treatment or physical therapy?
- How old were you at the time of the accident?
- Did you have any preexisting medical conditions?
- What’s the level of economic loss?
An experienced personal injury lawsuit attorney will often utilize the “multiplier method” when determining the amount of damages. Suppose the accident victim will be out of work for several months, leading to lost wages totaling $40,000. That number might be multiplied by a factor of 3 to account for pain and suffering for a total award of $120,000. The theory is that during that time when a person is unable to work, they are indeed suffering from pain and emotional distress.
Another approach would be to apply a per diem amount. This is a per day dollar amount that could be applicable for someone who has a broken arm or leg. If they’re in a cast for 60 days, then the per diem amount could be $100 a day for a total payout of $6,000.
Remember, this award amount is just for pain and suffering. The medical expenses, lost wages and damage to property would be an additional amount of money awarded.
Limitations on pain and suffering in Florida
There are several limitations to personal injury lawsuits in Florida. The first limitation is time.
In general, you only have 2 years to file a lawsuit in Florida under the state’s statute of limitations, and the “clock” starts ticking on the day the accident occurred. This 2-year time limit applies to wrongful death lawsuits as well.
For medical malpractice lawsuits, the statute of limitations is 2 years from the date the medical error occurred or from when you should have reasonably been able to discover it.
For lawsuits against a government entity, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of the incident.
The other limitation is the amount you can sue for. Generally speaking, there is no cap on the amount of damages that can be awarded for general pain and suffering in Florida. However, if the lawsuit involves medical malpractice, then there is a limit of $500,000 that can be awarded.
You should also be aware that Florida’s “no-fault” rule can impact the amount of money you could receive as a result of an accident. That applies to an auto accident where the insurance company would be paying for the damages regardless of who might be the negligent party. When the insurance company gets involved in this type of case, it’s extremely difficult to be awarded pain and suffering unless there is an extreme injury.
Time to get personal
When suing for pain and suffering, you may need to get personal with regard to the limitations that the injury has put on your life. It can sometimes be difficult for a person to admit how their life has been negatively impacted, but it’s important for your case. It might be easy to talk about the limitations on your physical activities like going bowling or engaging in water sports. However, an injury can also be the cause for a loss of intimacy and trigger emotional complications like stress and anxiety. Those can all be factors in your final settlement award, too.
If you are going through a difficult recovery process, you will need support from family, friends and medical professionals. You will also likely need the support of an experienced personal injury attorney. This legal representative will become your advocate in proceedings with both the insurance company and the court. It’s important to share all the relevant information about the accident and your pain and suffering with your attorney. They need to present the entire “picture” in order to justify the scope of damages.