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Figuring out damages in a Florida car accident case

When thinking of filing a personal injury case after a car crash, many people want to know what their case will be worth. Having an approximate idea of this figure can help in planning strategy, dealing with insurance companies and deciding whether to accept a settlement offer.

The following outline explains the general approach to calculating damages. An experienced attorney can give you a more detailed estimate based on the facts of your case. However, no one can ever guarantee a specific figure. In addition, an initial estimate can later change based on new facts that develop over the timeline of the case.

Compensating for harm suffered

Most damages in accident cases fall into the category of compensatory damages. The law intends these damages to make the plaintiff whole, insofar as possible, from the harm the accident inflicted. 

Costs and expenses

Compensatory damages include expenses one incurs as a result of the crash, as well as lost financial opportunities. Accident victims may have to pay for medical treatments, medications, assistive devices or long-term care. They may need to remodel their house to accommodate a disability or hire a caregiver.

Lost earnings

Injuries can also lead to limitations on the future ability to earn money. In addition to missing workdays, a plaintiff may find he or she can no longer perform some or all job functions. Injuries that limit the ability to work can curtail an otherwise promising career trajectory. Experts in this area can prepare detailed reports to support their projections of future lost earnings.

Non-monetary harm

The law also allows compensation for pain and suffering. These include physical pain and emotional harm. Serious injuries can lead to limitations not just on the ability to earn money, but also to participate in normal life activities. These limitations can also affect one's relationships with loved ones.

Punitive damages

In some cases, a Florida plaintiff may also request punitive damages. These are typically available only when the defendant's conduct rises to the level of malice or extreme indifference to the risk it poses. 

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