If you are involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach, you may be dealing with medical bills, missed work, a damaged car, and more. Whether or not the accident was your fault, you are entitled to compensation. However, how much you are entitled to completely depends on the circumstances of your case.
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our car wreck lawyers know how to calculate how much your car accident case is worth, and have the skills and experience to fight for every penny you’re owed. In fact, we have recovered over $1 BILLION on behalf of our clients. Through our decades of experience, we know how the courts in West Palm Beach treat car accidents, and the tactics insurance companies use to reduce the amount of money they have to payout.
If you have been injured in a collision, we’re here to help. Give us a call at (561) 566-5021 or contact us online to speak with a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.
How Personal Injury Protection Affects Your Case
Every driver registered in Florida is required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Under this policy, you can get compensation for your medical bills and lost wages after a wreck, no matter who is at fault. In total, Florida drivers are required to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage. This is the total that will be covered by your policy, split between medical bills, lost wages and death benefits.
In regard to medical bills, PIP will cover up to 80% of your expenses. So, if you incur $10,000 in medical expenses, PIP will only cover $8,000. If your treatment isn’t considered an emergency, you are only entitled to $2,500 in coverage. Eligible expenses include your ambulance ride, surgery, and other hospital costs, medical treatment, rehabilitation, medication, and more.
Along the same lines, PIP will cover up to 60% of your lost wages due to work you missed because of your accident. Also, PIP will cover the cost of daily tasks like housekeeping and cooking, should you have to hire help due to your injury.
Finally, if your loved one is killed because of an accident in West Palm Beach, your family would be entitled to up to $5,000 in death benefits. The benefits include funeral and burial expenses, medical costs, and lost wages.
Getting More Compensation Beyond PIP
Even though PIP is intended to compensate you for your losses after a car accident, it may not be enough. The good news is that Florida allows you to file a personal injury lawsuit if your damages exceed $10,000. This may seem like a high threshold, but when a single aspirin can run you over $50 at a hospital, it’s easy to see just how much your medical bills could cost.
If you decide to file a personal injury claim with the help of a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer, there are a few different factors that will go into determining how much your case is worth. First are the real, economic damages you suffered. This includes:
- Past and current medical expenses
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Estimated future lost income
- Out-of-pocket expenses
These damages are typically easy to prove. Your medical bills were $50,000? Take the $10,000 that PIP covers and that leaves you $40,000. That’s how much will be awarded to you, depending on fault. The same goes for all the other monetary losses you suffered.
For damages like future medical expenses and future lost income, your doctor will present evidence showing how much more treatment you will need, and how long it will be before you can go back to work.
All of these economic damages are subject to a noneconomic damages multiplier. Noneconomic damages are mainly pain and suffering, which is broken down into categories like mental anguish, physical pain, anxiety, and other similar effects that can’t easily be proven through receipts and invoices.
Generally, noneconomic damages multiply your compensation by 1.5 to 5. The more noneconomic damages you suffered, the higher the multiplier.
The multiplier will be determined by several factors. These can include:
- The severity of the injury
- The medical treatment received
- Recovery prognosis
- Long-lasting effects
- Whether your injuries will impact your day-to-day life
Because these factors are mostly subjective, there will be a lot of contention over how high the multiplier should be. Your West Palm Beach car accident lawyer may have expert witnesses like doctors, psychologists, occupational therapists, and more to prove you deserve higher rates of compensation.
How Fault Affects Your Compensation
When we’re determining how much your car accident case is worth, we’ll also take fault into account. Florida operates under a pure comparative negligence statute. This means even if you are partially at fault, you can still recover compensation. However, the amount you receive will be reduced by the percentage you are at fault.
For example, let’s say you’re driving down I-95 at night, and it’s raining. You’re getting off the exit onto 704, but the ramp is backed up. So, you have to come to a sudden stop, but one of your brake lights isn’t working properly. The car behind you doesn’t react in time, and rear-ends you, sending you off the road. You end up suffering from quite a few broken bones, a traumatic brain injury and other more minor injuries.
Because you work in a warehouse, you’re unable to work for three months while you’re recovering. In total, you suffered $200,000 in total economic damages. Because of the extent and future complications of your injuries, your damages are multiplied by a factor of 4. In total, you’re awarded $800,000.
However, because your brake lights weren’t operating properly, you’re found 20 percent at fault for the accident. As such, you are ultimately awarded $640,000 ($800,000 minus 20%, which is $160,000).
Because Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, you can sue for damages even if you are 99 percent at fault. However, most West Palm Beach car accident lawyers won’t take on a case if you are more than 50-60% at fault.
Wrongful Death Damages After a West Palm Beach Car Accident
If your loved one is killed in a car wreck, you may be able to receive compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. As with lost wages and medical bills, PIP does provide some money for death benefits. However, the $5,000 the offer for funeral and burial expenses may not even be enough to cover a casket, much less a service and burial plot.
A wrongful death case can cover these losses and more. Under Florida law, the loved ones of a person who was killed due to “the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person” can recover compensation. Specifically, the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents; and blood relatives or adoptive siblings who are wholly or partially dependent on the deceased person can recover damages.
The damages that can be recovered include:
- Lost support
- Lost future income
- Lost services
- Lost marital companionship and protection
- Pain and suffering
- Lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance
- Medical and funeral expenses
In addition, the estate of the deceased can recover separate damages. These include:
- Loss of earning from the date of injury to the date of death
- Loss of the future net accumulations of the estate
- Funeral or medical expenses paid on behalf of or by the deceased
Like other damages, wrongful death damages are reduced by the amount the deceased was at fault.
Get Help from a West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you have legal options to recover compensation. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have the skills and knowledge to help you calculate how much your car accident case is worth. With decades of experience under our belt and over $1 BILLION recovered on behalf of our clients, we can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Give us a call at (561) 566-5021 or contact us online to speak with a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.