A Tampa car accident lawyer can help you calculate what you’re owed
Having a great car accident lawyer in Tampa can be the difference between getting a $10,000 payout or making it out with a $100,000 win. When you get into a car accident in Tampa, you want to be able to anticipate what comes next from the legal process. Insurance companies will want to pay you as little as they can get away with and will probably drag their feet with the actual payout. However, with a great car accident lawyer in Tampa by your side, you can develop realistic expectations that help you approach this claim like a winner.
It is important to note that a good case that leads to a satisfactory payout relies on good collection and documentation of evidence. The moment you realise that you might want to file a claim, the first thing you need to do is to call an experienced car accident attorney in Tampa and let them handle this legal matter for you.
Why you should call your car accident lawyer in Tampa as soon as possible
The sooner after the accident you call your lawyer, the sooner your lawyer will be able to:
- Identify the party that was at fault
- Identify and interview any witnesses that might best explain what happened and bolster your case
- Assist you in the process of assessing any damage to your property
- Advocate for you so you can collect other types of damages
- Negotiate a settlement on your behalf; or
- Prepare to argue your case in court
In this blog, we will answer some of those compensation questions you might have about car accident settlements in Tampa.
What is the average settlement in car accident claims in Tampa?
According to the statistics by Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, the average payout for car accident claims is slightly over $15,000. Are there people who make it out with millions? Yes; absolutely. There are some factors that lead to massive payouts on cases like that and we’ll cover those later on this blog. The rule of thumb is this, the greater the damage, the bigger the payout.
Here are some of the common damages that you can claim for:
- Medical bills: both current and future medical expenses that are associated with the injury
- Wages lost as a result of the injury, for instance when you take time off for recovery
- Damage to your property, which typically would include your car
- Out of pocket costs associated with dealing with the car accident such as towing
- Pain and suffering
Compensation you can get for Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash Injuries are essentially soft tissue damage and include sprains, strains, bulge discs and nerve damage. They are often caused by a rear-end crash when your head whips back and forth on impact. Most times in a minor accident, your neck will get soft tissue damage that can lead to long-term headache. Back pain and dizziness are also common with whiplash injuries.
The average payout for whiplash injuries is between $10,000 -$20,000. Your Tampa car accident lawyer will negotiate for you based on your medical bills, how serious your injuries are and any other losses you might have suffered as a result. Such losses could include loss of pay for the time spent in recovery.
How your Tampa car accident attorney can help you claim for diminished car value
Any time you get into a car accident, the value of your car automatically diminishes in three main ways that we’ll discuss below. This is why the courts allow for claims arising from diminished car value after an auto crash accident in Tampa.
The statute of limitations on claims related to diminished car value is four years. This means that if you don’t sue before then, or accept a settlement between the time of the crash and 4 years later, you will likely be unable to be compensated for it.
This loss in value is calculated by subtracting the after-accident value from the before-accident value. Your Tampa car accident lawyer will be able to get the documentation necessary to prove this loss in value.
The three main ways your car can diminish in value after an auto accident are:
- Immediate reduced value: This refers to the value of the car immediately after the accident. It is calculated by subtracting the before-accident and after-accident value of the car before repairs.
- Inherent reduced value: Cars that have been involved in an accident, even after better-than-before repairs, are seen as inherently inferior to accident free cars. You can be compensated for the loss in resale value.
- Repair-related reduced value: Sometimes, the parts used to repair your car after an accident are not as good as the original. Or the repairs done were not good enough to return your car to before-accident performance standards. You can claim compensation for this diminished value.
How your car accident lawyer in Tampa will prove pain and suffering.
Most times, the size of your pain and suffering compensation will depend on how serious your injuries are. In practice, it usually is calculated by multiplying the monetary damages by 1.5 in minor injuries that take a week or two to recuperate. In major injuries, most victims value their pain and suffering at 5 times the monetary compensation that includes medical care and other financial losses.
Your car accident lawyer in Tampa will use these points to prove how much pain and suffering you should be compensated for:
- How badly were you injured? The worse the injury, the more the potential payout. Here, your lawyer will need to show how much physical pain you went through and are still experiencing as a result of the crash. To prove this, you could be asked to testify or they could use an expert witness like a doctor to speak to this fact. Sometimes, you could be asked to sign an affidavit affirming the pain you’re experiencing.
- How much did you lose financially? Some math that could go into this includes adding up any lost wages due to inability to work and any savings lost for out-of-pocket expenses. Financial losses could also include any exhaustion of insurance coverage.
- Pre-existing conditions: If you were already recuperating from a different injury or had a stiff neck, the other party or their insurance company are likely going to bring it up. Pre-existing conditions could reduce the amount of settlement you’re owed. However, a good car accident lawyer in Tampa can still ensure that you’re adequately compensated for your painful ordeal.
- Your age: Typically, younger car accident victims get bigger payouts. Why? The courts consider how many years they will have to endure the after-effects of the auto-accident. Sometimes, this includes the number of productive years lost as a result of the accident.
- Other non-economic damages: These include things like anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, depression and permanent disfigurement. While it is hard to put a dollar value on the mental anguish that can be caused by a car accident, a good attorney is able to demonstrate how much your quality of life has diminished in non-monetary ways and get you compensated for it.
How the Florida No-Fault Settlement affects your compensation
Florida being a no-fault state allows for minor injuries to be solved through the no-fault system. This means that, if your injury or damages qualifies as ‘minor’, you will first seek compensation from your insurance through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. You’ll first claim from them even if the other party was responsible for the accident.
It is your insurance company that will compensate you for your medical costs, loss of income and pain and suffering up to the $10,000 PIP amount. The amount you will be paid will depend on the limits of your policy as well as the policy limits of the other driver if they are at-fault. Under this system, for minor accidents, you don’t have to prove who was at fault to claim under your insurance company. Should the damages exceed your policy limits, you can institute a claim for the balance against the insurance company of the driver at fault.
In practice, your insurer will pay up to 80% of your medical costs and up to 60% of your income loss (minus deductibles). The lowest PIP limit is $10,000. If you die in the accident, your PIP will pay your next of kin $5000 in death benefits.
However, the exemption to the no-fault law applies when your injuries meet the ‘serious injury’ threshold. According to the Florida law that also governs Tampa, you meet the serious injury threshold when you suffer from:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
Since the same injury can affect different accident victims differently, most times, the court will have to decide whether it meets the ‘serious injury’ threshold. Your Tampa car accident lawyer will enlist the help of an expert witness (like a doctor) who will testify as to the severity of those injuries. The witness will explain to the jury the extent to which those injuries have met one of the legal standards required to qualify for serious injury compensation.
What if the car accident was your fault?
Because Florida is a no-fault state, your PIP coverage will cover your injury costs and lost wages regardless of who was responsible for the crash. However, damage to your car will only be covered in the event that you paid extra for a policy that covers vehicular damage as well. However, the other party can claim from your insurance for damage to their own car. The compensation they will receive will be based on the level of responsibility they bear in the car accident.
Most times, it’s not very obvious who was responsible for the accident. That is why, it is not advisable to admit fault; even if you think it was 100% on you. Getting an independent assessment can ensure you don’t accept blame that is not yours to bear. Dialing 911 and getting the police to file a report is the right thing to do. You can also take pictures of the crash and contact info of any witnesses around if you feel like you may need to bolster your case with witness testimonies.
What if you were partially at fault?
You may find that you were partly at fault based on the circumstances surrounding the crash. In this case, you will be compensated for the portion that was not your fault. Perhaps you were texting while driving while the other driver was heavily over speeding in a residential area and they rear-end you. If it is determined that you were 25% to blame for the car crash, you will still be able to claim the 75% that was not your fault.
However, remember that Florida is a no-fault state and that every driver is mandated to have a PIP policy of at least $10,000. If the damages caused are estimated to be within the scope of your policy, each party will claim from their own insurance company. However, should it exceed the policy cover of the more-aggrieved party, this is when the apportionment of responsibility comes in. This is because, according to Florida laws, you cannot claim beyond the limits of your insurance policy.
While apportioning responsibility can be a complex process, a good Tampa car accident attorney can help you maximize the amount of compensation you can receive. This is why, after ensuring that both you and the other driver are physically okay, the first call should be to the police, and the next one to your lawyer.
You should contact us to help you:
At Coleman Law Group, we understand that getting into a car accident can be such a traumatic, emotional experience. We want you to focus on getting better and tending to your own needs. If you let us, we will fight for you to get everything you’re owed. We may not undo the accident, but we can make sure that you get paid for all the pain you have had to endure.