A common question we hear is, “How much can I get for my injury after a car accident?” This is hard without knowing all the facts. Even averages are hard to calculate. Let’s take car accidents as an example, because the numbers you’ll hear from other sources will be all over the place.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average payout from auto insurance in 2019 was $18,417 in liability coverage and $3,750 in auto coverage nationwide. However, you shouldn’t use these numbers to know if you have a fair settlement offer. Here’s why.
Every State Is Different
Each state has its own insurance laws, payment caps, and fault rules. And all these factors play roles in determining how much you can get in a settlement. The rules for getting compensation can be so different between states that it becomes apples and oranges. So, let’s look at Florida in particular.
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Understanding Settlements in No-Fault States
Florida is a no-fault state with a requirement that all drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If a driver opts to purchase more than the minimum, they’ll be covered up to the percentage caps for medical bills and lost wages. This is a starting point for compensation.
This system reduces the number of lawsuits in the state because only car accidents with serious injuries are allowed to break the cap. If your case is eligible for a lawsuit, things become much more complicated.
Different Sources of Compensation
Part of your personal injury lawyer’s job is to calculate all the damages in your case and work with the insurer and the court that you deserve all they’ve found. Past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning potential, and more will change with each case.
Then there are the non-economic damages like pain and suffering. These are usually calculated using a multiplier system based on the other damages. Further, a court may decide to apply punitive damages. This will also skew what you can get upward.
How Does Florida’s Pure Comparative Fault Law Affect My Settlement?
Another factor is Florida’s pure comparative fault law. This splits the responsibility for paying along the percentage of fault between the parties. For instance, if you were 50% responsible for an accident, you can only get 50% of the damages in a lawsuit.
Your fault percentage completely depends on the fine details of your case and how well each side argues their case before the court. Since it is up to the court to decide this percentage for each case, it’s another reason why finding the average car accident settlement is so difficult.
This is also a reason why you need to have a personal injury attorney on your side when you pursue a lawsuit. You may not know how to counter accusations of negligence that will lower your compensation amount.
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How Lawyers Make Their Estimates
By comparing your situations with others in the past, lawyers can judge whether or not a settlement offer is fair or not and advise you how to proceed. This is not an exact science, but experience helps.
Your personal injury attorney may still give an estimate once they’ve studied your case, but there is always the chance for surprises that could throw an estimate out the window. How can you limit your chances of getting too little money?
If you carry PIP insurance in Florida—and you should—you can set your policy limit as a starting average car accident settlement. If that’s too low for your comfort, purchase more coverage. This is the easiest way to ensure you have enough compensation if you get into an accident, without worrying about the whims of the court and the details of negligence law.