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Florida Personal Injury Settlements: Myths vs. Reality

Florida Personal Injury Settlements Myths vs. Reality

The mass media isn’t a very good source of information on how personal injury settlements work. In fact, it is full of sensationalism and inaccuracies. Following are some of the realities you will face if you seek a personal injury settlement. Some of these realities are harsh, but some of them are not.

Myth: A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Take Your Case Whether or Not They Think They Can Win

Personal injury lawyers generally charge on a contingency fee basis. This means they will charge you nothing unless they win or settle your case. This benefits you if they take your case, and it means the lawyer might refuse to represent you if your evidence is weak or if your claim is small. The upside of this state of affairs is that if the lawyer does take your case, you probably have a good chance of winning.

Myth: Six- and Seven-Figure Settlements Are Common

If someone wins $10 million in a personal injury settlement, the media will jump all over it. If someone wins $10,000, you’ll probably never hear about it. Remember that you’re not necessarily getting a representative sample of actual personal injury recoveries by following the media. Most recoveries fall well short of six figures. Nevertheless, your chances of winning a large recovery are much better with a lawyer than without one, furthermore, we recommend hiring an attorney to take some of the stress off.

Factors That Determine the Amount of Your Recovery

The true value of your claim could be more or less than what you initially imagine it to be. The amount you win could depend on a lot of factors, including:

  • The skill of your lawyer;
  • Insurance coverage limitations;
  • Negotiating skills;
  • The severity of your injuries;
  • Your age (if your injuries resulted in permanently diminished earning capacity);
  • The defendant’s culpability;
  • The availability of alternative defendants; and
  • The strength of the evidence available to you.

Many other factors might also play a role.

Myth: Punitive Damages Awards Are Common

Florida courts award punitive damages only when the defendant’s conduct has been outrageous. Even a DUI accident may or may not justify punitive damages. Intentional violence, the kind that would justify criminal charges, typically justifies punitive damages.

Florida Imposes a Cap on the Amount of Punitive Damages Caps

Florida imposes an informal cap on punitive damages to prevent them from getting out of control. Currently, the cap is 300% of the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is more. Courts can award more than this amount, but they seldom do.

Myth: Most Claims Are the Fault of Only One Party

Comparative negligence is a legal principle that applies when two or more parties share fault for the accident. Under the Florida “pure comparative negligence” system, a court would assign each party a percentage of fault and subtract the exact same percentage from that party’s compensation. 

If you were 15% at fault, for example, you would lose 15% of your damages. If you were 85% at fault, you would lose 85% of your damages. You would also pay an equivalent percentage of the defendant’s damages (if any).  

Myth: Settlement Negotiations Are Independent of Court Judgments

A lot of Florida injury law applies to the court system. But does it also apply to personal injury settlements? Yes, it does. In settlement negotiations, you derive your bargaining power from the likelihood of taking the other party to court and winning.

For this reason, personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts tend to reflect the parties’ estimation of the amount a Florida court would likely award the injury victim. There is one exception: it is almost impossible to negotiate punitive damages. 

Special Case: Florida’s No-Fault Car Accident Compensation System

Car accidents account for more personal injury claims than any other type of claim. Unfortunately, Florida’s car accident compensation system is perhaps the least victim-friendly system in the United States. When seeking compensation for a car accident, you could face two enemies, which are Florida’s no-fault system and the lack of any requirement to purchase bodily injury liability insurance.

PIP Insurance

As a Florida driver, you must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which pays for your own bodily injury. The minimum amount of coverage is $10,000, although it is possible to purchase more. As long as PIP applies, it doesn’t matter whose fault the accident was.

Car accident injury settlement amounts tend to be lower in Florida than in at-fault states such as Texas. In Florida, you can recover for medical expenses and lost earnings, but not for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

Property damage

Property damage is different from bodily injury. If you suffer property damage in an accident caused by someone else, you can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s property damage liability (PDL) insurance policy. Florida law requires all drivers to purchase a minimum of $10,000 in PDL insurance. 

Exiting the No-Fault System

If your injuries are serious enough, $10,000 might not be enough for you. You might need to file a claim against the at-fault driver for the remainder of your expenses. You might also want to file a claim for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. You can only do this, however, if your injuries are “serious,” as Florida law defines that term. 

Florida law defines a “serious” injury narrowly. Wrongful death qualifies as serious. So does a permanent loss of bodily function and certain other injury scenarios. 

The Liability Insurance Problem

The biggest problem with existing Florida’s no-fault system is that Florida is one of only two states that does not require its drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance. Even if your injuries qualify as “serious,” there is a good chance that the at-fault driver lacks the insurance resources to pay your claim. For this reason, you should be sure to purchase adequate uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. It’s optional, but it’s critical.

Contact a Lawyer to Bolster Your Chances of a Fair Settlement

In personal injury law, it’s not just whether you win or lose. It’s how much you win. You could call a token $100 settlement a “victory” if you want, but that much is hardly likely to be adequate. You probably need a lawyer to calculate how much your claim is worth and to actually put that much money in your pocket. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial case consultations; take advantage of the opportunity if you suspect you have a strong claim.

Contact the Tampa Personal Injury Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.

We proudly serve Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County, and its surrounding areas:

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
(813) 223-6200

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
(727) 493-4418

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 314-5988

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 910-5060

Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805
(863) 251-6196

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Karla Rogers
Karla Rogers
Best lawyer ever! I had an accident gave them a call and like three months later, case Settled and full payout... Excellent service!
Lenette Montalvo
Lenette Montalvo
Christopher from Winter and Yonker was amazing. Very nice person to talk to, listen to what I had to say, and even gave his opinion when needed. From start to finish I felt very important and I was impressed by this law firm every one i spoke to made me feel safe and comfortableto. My accident has done a lot of damage to me, and knowing I had an attorney from Winters and Yonker on my side made me feel great. My compensation for my accident is amazing and it will help me in my life. Thank you very much I will definitely recommend this law firm.
coleman vera
coleman vera
I went to Winter & Yonker Law Firm for my Tampa car accident case I was involved in. My case manager throughout the process and she took care of me from start to finish. The process was very seamless, I received the medical treatment that I needed immediately and at the very end, concluded with a very rewarding settlement. I've worked with a few law firms from prior accidents and none can compare to the service OR expertise I received from Mr. Yonker.👉 If you're seeking help for an injury related case, I would definitely recommend working with him and their amazing legal staff at Winter & Yonker Firm in Tampa. I will always use this firm for all my Personal Injury Claims! If you are l@@king for an Attorney to give you Top Notch legal help and the MOST money for your Pain & Suffering then take it from me I'm a paralegal and this firm continues to OUTSHINE them all!
Meredith Wilson
Meredith Wilson
This was my first personal injury experience. I wanted to choose a law office I could trust. A friend of mine recommended the law offices of Winters & Yonker, Personal Injury Lawyers in Tampa. Through the entire process Attorney Marc Yonkers was helpful and communication was stellar. I never felt out the loop. I felt confident throughout entire process. Which this month (Sept. 2023) they were able to settle my accident case successfully and to my 100% satisfaction. I cannot recommend Winters & Yonker and or Marc any higher. In short they are firm, fair, aggressive, responsive, super smart and know the numerous ins and outs of Personal Injury cases (which can be quite complicated). Upon hiring them you get a law firm that will leave you confident that your case will be handled expertly and with your interests front and center.
Geneva Ramirez
Geneva Ramirez
Winters and Yonkers has been a legend of the Tampa Bay personal injury Attorney community for a long time. I was in a car accident recently with my husband, we suffered back and neck pains after two days and thought to get someone’s help. I found Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers through a google search and called them right up. The same day Mr. Winters contacted both of us, listened, and was compassionate to our situation. He helped us through the entire process including getting me seen by a Doctor so we could heal our injuries correctly, and we got our medical bills reduced! Bill Winters, my case manager, and the entire staff were very knowledgeable and exceptional at their work. We would like to express my sincere gratitude to them and recommend them without any hesitation to anybody who needs help, don't try and fight the at fault's insurance on your own. If you're injured and need someone to protect your rights you won't find a better Attorney than Bill Winters at Winters & Yonkers!-Geneva, Tampa FL#personalinjurylawyer #caraccidentlawyer #tampainjuryattorney
Shelley Torres
Shelley Torres
Bum Boi
Bum Boi
My wife and I are work in Mediation and Arbitration but know nothing about personal injury cases. When a young delivery Truck driver who was distracted by his phone hit us at full speed and rear-ended us as we were stopped in traffic on Wesley chapel. We knew we needed to hire the best lawyers with PI experience and expertise in the Tampa legal community that we could.From our first phone call with Bill Winters and then all the way through Trial preparation then Trial, we never felt any bad about our case because we knew Bill and the entire staff at Winters and Yonker would take care of us.Their dedication, innovation, motivation, reliability, unparalleled intellect, and exceptional skill as trial lawyers make them extraordinary individuals. My experience working with them was nothing short of exceptional. Experiencing a car accident is an ordeal that encompasses fear, trauma, and frustration. It's a life-changing event in anyone's life. There was no amount of money that could ever make me alright, because I would give any amount of cash to not have to go through the nightmare that the car accident was and continues to be.It took almost 2 years from the time of the car crash to go to trial, but ultimately the jury verdict that Bill Winters got for my family was worth fighting for. There were so many times over the course of the three years that we actively realized how amazing it was that we felt no anxiety or concerns or worries about our case, because Bill is truly outstanding!If you or anyone you know gets hurt in a car accident, call Winters and Yonkers RIGHT AWAY! And then rest assured that you, your family, or friends are being cared for by the ABSOLUTE BEST legal team in Tampa Bay. Thank you, Winters & Yonker!
Glenda Litimco
Glenda Litimco
Winters & Yonker law firm did excellent work with my injury case. Luckily, I was referred to Winters & Yonker from a good friend after I was injured in a car accident. I did some initial research about injury lawyers near me, but the reviews for this office really stood out to me in Tampa. I decided to call and after a single phone conversation, the choice was easy to make! Not only was everyone extremely professional, they made the entire process smooth and clear. I was at ease with each step of the way because they were always there to answer my questions and keep me informed of what was happening. All expectations were met and my settlement was exceeded. I got much more than I thought was even possible from the insurance company. I highly recommend the Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers, and their team in Tampa to anyone in need of help after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. You'll be in good hands!
Dandrea Ikner
Dandrea Ikner
This is the best lawyer in town
Nicky Warner
Nicky Warner
Max was amazing! He kept me updated throughout the whole process and was extremely easy to talk with. He also explained everything so I can completely understand it. It was an amazing experience. Thank you, Max!
Erika Smith
Erika Smith
I had a great experience with them! They truly care about you!! Thank you so much🤗
Jonathan Clem
Jonathan Clem
I was injured in a car crash here in town. Since it was essentially a "he said she said" accident case the opposing insurance claimed it was a 50/50 fault. Even though it clearly could not have been my fault. However, Bill worked diligently to get me everything I was needed to get my life back. He worked to get me access to all the doctors I needed and medical treamtment for my neck and back. Plus, a large settlement amount. Bill even took the time to calm me down when I saw the initial amount and cost for seeing my medical bills piling up! He even managed to get them to reduce their bills significantly! Plus, I received as much as possible. Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers in Tampa provided a great legal service. They were strait forward and honest about the approach, and communicated every aspect of the process. The firm took care of everything. I would 100% without a doubt recommend him if I knew someone that need a personal injury attorney. Given the circumstances of our introduction I hope I never have to, BUT Bill Winters will definitely be my first call if I'm ever injured again!
marie silvers
marie silvers
They are the Best! They care about you as a person!
jorden reagan
jorden reagan
Everyone on their staff is amazing! Chris and Sara won my case and helped me out with an accident that occurred a few months back. They made the entire process so easy! They called with case updates but not too often where it was constant phone calls. It was just enough to know what was going on the whole time without being bombarded. Thankful for Tayler on their staff who helped inform me on why Winters and Yonker was the best choice to go with!
Kimberly Rushton
Kimberly Rushton
Yes, I would highly recommend winners in Yonkers. I worked with Trevor and Trevor was the best. I recommend anyone that ever needs a lawyer to go to them. They are the best.
Pat Pawelkop
Pat Pawelkop
Highly recommend. Bill Winters and his staff took time to answer my questions, and handled my case in a timely and professional manner. I almost didn't contact a lawyer over my "small" injury case because I feared it would be so difficult and stressful. But he got me the settlement that my insurance company owed me, and I would never have been able to do that on my own. And with less stress that I anticipated. I'm glad I called them.
Amysway Barton
Amysway Barton
Always available
Certified Soul
Certified Soul
Winters and Yonker is who you want to go to when you get in a car accident because they will take care of you and won’t let you get low balled on your settlement. I got in a car accident where my back and shoulder was injured and I was referred to a attorney named Trevor. I appreciate Trevor for handling my case and keeping me informed with all the information I needed.
Sean S
Sean S
One of the best law firms in Tampa. My family was involved in a serious car accident. We went to that other personal injury firm with the two M's they were trying to make us settle the case quickly and they we're not listening to us with the arrogant attitude that they were the experts and we were just ignorant. We promptly fired them and then hired Winters & yonker. Our settlement was 5 times higher than what the MM wanted to settle for.I would like to thank Winters and Yonkers entire staff for a wonderful experience. They were all very knowledgeable and walked us through the whole process. We really felt like they cared, unlike the other firm.
Linda Robinson
Linda Robinson
I’m giving Winters & Yonker a shout out. My mother fell in Winn Dixie afew months ago. Her first choice wasMorgan & Morgan; however, after theinterview with them they decided not to take the case. My perception was that it was not a big enough case for them. I knew that she deserved to be compensated for her injuries, and I had mad faith in Winters & Yonker from using them in the past. They not only took the case but settled it in record time. Thanks Winters and Yonker, and I like to send a special thank you to Christopher Smith, who was never to busy when I needed answers. I would recommend your law firm to anyone. I found you to be ethical, professional, and respectful to my family, but most of all you will fight for the little guy. Much love and respect. God bless you all and your families👏👏👏👏
Reuben Rodriques
Reuben Rodriques
Other said it couldn't be done called your law firm and immediately you got on it impressive shocking furthermore you showed integrity did what you had to do though you didn't have to do it and I was shockingly pleased thank you you surprised me had I to choose any other law firm I would not hesitate to call you or share my experience with my friends thank you once again from me and my family amen
Hameed Owens
Hameed Owens
Myrtle Graham
Myrtle Graham
I was searching for a local car accident lawyer near me after I was rear-ended by someone earlier this month. I was being pushed around by the at-fault driver's insurance company and needed some legal help.I found Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers through Google Maps and decided to get a free consult. I called the Tampa office of this firm and talked to them about my options. I briefly told them of my situation and was connected to Bill shortly after. He was extremely informative and was very professional. By the end of the same day he had me meet with a private investigator and referred me to a chiropractor nearby. Great customer service, and I look forward to how well my settlement will turn out. I know I am in good hands!
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