Calculating Car Accident Settlements
Most car accident cases never make it to trial, but are resolved through out-of-court settlement negotiations. While it is true that settlement proceedings are often less stressful and time-consuming than litigation, they still require complicated calculations and thorough investigations. Determining what qualifies as a fair settlement award is particularly complex and involves a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of the victim’s injuries and the degree of negligence exhibited by the at-fault party. To learn more about how these factors apply in your own case, please call one of our dedicated Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers today.
The Defendant’s Negligence
Demonstrating that someone else’s negligence or recklessness caused a collision is a key element of a successful car accident claim. The extent of the carelessness exhibited by that individual or entity will also play an important role in determining a settlement award. If, for instance, a driver was extremely intoxicated at the time of an accident and fault for the crash is largely indisputable, then the injured party is much more likely to receive a high settlement offer, as the defense will want to avoid going to trial, where an even higher amount could be awarded. If, on the other hand, the other driver’s degree of negligence in causing the crash is unclear or cannot be proven, then he or she will usually start with a lower settlement offer.
The Injured Party’s Degree of Fault
Florida courts adhere to the legal theory of comparative negligence. This means that unlike other states, which bar accident victims from any type of recovery if they were even slightly at fault for their accident, injured parties who contribute in some way to their crash can still recover compensation from the person who was primarily at fault for the accident. This apportioning of fault often comes into play when calculating a settlement amount. If, for instance, an injured party is deemed to be essentially equally at fault for an accident, then he or she can expect a low settlement offer. If, on the other hand, a victim’s contribution to a crash was negligible, then his or her settlement award shouldn’t be reduced by more than a small amount.
The Severity and Type of Injuries
One of the most important factors in determining a proper settlement amount in a car accident case is the severity and type of the victim’s injuries. This will largely be indicated through the types and amounts of medical bills and treatment records that the plaintiff presents, as well as the permanence of the injury. Minor injuries, like abrasions and slight bruising, for instance, are worth much less than a permanently disfiguring injury, like a burn or amputation. Defense attorneys often try to downplay the seriousness of a plaintiff’s injuries in an effort to avoid paying a higher settlement. These types of tactics can, however, be undermined by strong evidence.
Experienced Auto Accident Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
If you were hurt in a car crash and have questions about whether settlement negotiations or litigation is in your best interests, please contact the dedicated car accident attorneys at Boone & Davis for help. Call us today at 954-566-9919 to schedule a free case review.