Sean Lopez | October 28, 2022 | Personal Injury
Basic St. Petersburg Personal Injury Settlement Breakdown: How Much Goes in My Pocket?
The total amount of a personal injury settlement can be deceptive. How much money actually goes into your pocket? In many cases, the answer is “less than half.” Ultimately, however, the answer depends on many factors.
The Components of a Personal Injury Claim
A Florida personal injury claim typically includes two components of damages-–economic damages and non-economic damages. Sometimes courts also award punitive damages.
Any tangible economic loss arising directly from your injury might qualify as economic damages, including:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses;
- Past, present, and future lost wages; and
- Out-of-pocket expenses arising from your injury.
Economic damages are not necessarily limited to these items.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses arising from your injury. They include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of sexual function and intimacy/companionship;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- The psychological and lifestyle consequences of permanent disfigurement.
Florida law used to apply a cap (maximum) to non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. In 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled these caps unconstitutional.
Following is a list of inherent limitations on the amount of your personal injury settlement.
Insurance Policy Limits
No insurance company has an obligation to pay a dime more than their coverage limits. If your claim is $100,000 and their coverage limit is $15,000, you will receive no more than $15,000. You will have to look elsewhere for the remaining $85,000.
PIP in Car Accidents
Under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will cover only 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost earnings, up to a maximum of $10,000. You can exit this restrictive system and file a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy if your injuries are “serious,” as defined by Florida law.
If you were partly at fault for the accident, a Florida court would deduct from your compensation an amount equal to your percentage of fault—30%, for example. Comparative fault applies equally to settlement negotiations because the opposing party will be reluctant to pay more than a court would probably award you.
What Percentage Will My Lawyer Take?
What percentage does a personal injury lawyer get in a settlement case? You need to know this percentage so that you will know how much to demand in a personal injury settlement. As a general average, personal injury lawyers ask for about 33% of your compensation. If you go to trial, this amount could increase to 40%. Florida imposes certain limitations on how much your lawyer can charge you.
If your lawyer wins your case but paid your case expenses for you, they will expect reimbursement of these amounts. These expenses might include:
- Court fees if you file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit is common even if you eventually settle out of court.
- Copies of your medical records;
- Expert witness fees.
- Costs for pretrial discovery (depositions, etc.) if you file a lawsuit.
- Investigation expenses (travel and other expenses).
If you lose your claim, your lawyer will probably eat these expenses since your case didn’t generate any income to reimburse them. However, this is something you will discuss with your attorney beforehand.
If you couldn’t pay your medical bills until your settlement money came in, you might have agreed to grant your healthcare provider a medical lien. A medical lien grants the holder the right to deduct the amount of your outstanding medical bills from your lawyer’s escrow account.
Suppose you have a car accident and sue the at-fault driver’s auto liability policy. While your suit is pending, you file a claim with your health insurer, who pays you $11,000 for your injuries. If the other side’s liability insurance company agrees to full compensation for your injuries, they will demand reimbursement for the $11,000 to ensure you don’t receive a double recovery.
Your taxes are likely to be minuscule unless you win punitive damages. Speak with a tax lawyer if you are uncertain.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?
The opposing party will deposit your settlement money into your lawyer’s escrow account. How much money will lawyers take from the settlement? They will take their own fees and case expenses plus all of the other deductions listed above. After deducting the appropriate amount from the escrow funds and distributing them to the appropriate parties, the lawyer will then forward the balance to you.
Your Chances of Full Compensation Are Better With a Lawyer
If your claim is reasonably large, it doesn’t make sense to try to represent yourself. In fact, without hiring an injury lawyer, you might not even realize the full value of your claim. Remember—a personal injury lawyer will charge you nothing unless they win your case.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm – Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys
Contact a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.
Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys
700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701