- $13 Billion+ Won
- 800+ Lawyers Nationwide
- The Fee is FreeTM, Only Pay If We Win
- America’s Largest Injury Law Firm
- Protecting Families Since 1988
Over the years, the City of Fort Myers has been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, so it's no surprise that in 2020 it was ranked as number one in the state for private-sector job growth. And according to U.S News and World Report, Fort Myers is ranked as the second-best place for retirees in the United States. With its incredible community, tourism, and wildlife, it makes sense that so many people of all ages would want to live in such a wonderful city.
However, given the significant increase of the community and the thousands of tourists who visit Fort Myers, the chance of being involved in an automobile crash also increases. In the event that you are involved in a car accident, you need to understand your options when it comes to recovering the proper compensation for your damages, but how exactly do you go about that?
How to Calculate How Much I Am Owed After an Accident
Following a car accident, hiring a car accident attorney is typically considered a good idea. However, when it comes to minor collisions, you may be swayed into the idea that you can save money by skipping the attorney fees and handling your insurance claims alone. Suppose self-representation is the route you choose to follow. In that case, we highly recommend that you conduct a suitable amount of research to better understand the ins and outs of accident claims and how to best proceed to ensure you receive the best returns for your damages before taking on the insurance companies.
Below we have broken down the most common ways insurance companies, and car accident attorneys break down and calculate the value of your insurance claims.
Morgan & Morgan
What Information Do I Need to Create a Compensation Estimate?
When it comes to gathering the information, you need to calculate your proper compensation after a car accident; you'll need to break down the total cost of your injuries and vehicle repairs. As for calculating the value of the damages made to your car, the key factors you need to consider are as follows. The vehicle's worth, the vehicle's condition at the time of the accident, the value from depreciation, and the mileage. Additionally, include the cost of repairs. It is essential to note any expenses that come with the specific parts needed to replace the damages in your car versus just providing an overall average cost of what is required for the general repair.
When it comes to calculating the cost of your injuries, it gets more complicated. Unlike your vehicle, if you have been injured, there is no way to replace your missing limb or swap out your injured body part for a new one. It is also essential to take into consideration that the effects of an injury can vary depending on who has received them. For example, if there was a car accident involving a veterinarian and a retired police officer. If the veterinarian were to lose their leg or arm, they would anticipate receiving a greater compensation return for their financial, emotional, and psychological pain than the retired police officer, who is no longer earning a living wage.
Not to say that one individual deserved more returns for their damages, however, when looking over the two victims, the course of the veterinarian's life will change, stunting their ability to earn a living wage, while the retired officer is likely to face fewer long-term effects due to the accident. With the information provided from the accident, an attorney will use a formula to determine the value of your claims. Formulas most commonly used to calculate car accidents claims are the per diem or multiplier method.
How Do Insurance Adjusters in Fort Myers Determine the Value of a Claim or Settlement?
After an accident in the state of Florida, the liable party's insurance company are legally required to cover the following costs:
- Lost wages and other lost income
- Medical bills / related expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent physical disability or disfigurement
- Emotional damages
In accidents where the victim is not claiming pain and suffering as a damage, typically, it will come down to summing up the cost of the assorted medical and repair bills. On the other hand, when it comes to accidents where pain and suffering are included, the insurance companies will then provide further compensation on top of coverage for your medical bills, vehicle repairs or replacement, and lost wages. When it comes to calculating the value of your accident claim, insurance companies will use various methods to arrive at an appropriate number, many of which are in similar form to the multiplier method. However, unlike attorneys who use the multiplier method, they rarely use whole numbers in their formulas. Instead, the equation insurance companies use to determine the value of pain and suffering is often referred to as the damage formula.
What Is the Multiplier Method?
As previously mentioned, many insurance companies and attorneys will primarily use the multiplier method in order to calculate the cost of your damages after an accident. But exactly does this method entail, and how is it used? The multiplier method is based on the idea that specific injuries with more measurable damages, such as hospital bills and lost wages, typically involve more severe car accidents — requiring a multiplier to work out the actual cost of the accident. The multiplier method works by combining a multiplier and the sum of the total cost of your damages, for example:
Say you were injured in a car accident, and you have accrued medical bills worth $10,000. On top of the medical bills, you were unable to earn a living wage — losing you about $2,000. Taking the information provided, your attorney will typically multiply the sum of your actual damages, which in this case would be $12,000, by a figure that falls between one and five. With three being the most common multiplier used, in this scenario, the total damages would amount to $36,000.
Generally, depending on the severity of your accident case, any injuries sustained, the time needed to recover, and aggravating circumstances, the multiplier used may increase or decrease. For example, a more severe accident may be valued with a multiplier of a three or four, while a more minor accident resulting in a fender bender or a busted tail light can dip as low as one or two. In cases where there is an aggravating circumstance, such as the driver at fault driving under the influence during the accident — the multiplier can be a five or greater. In some cases, if your attorney sees that your behavior or negligence behind the wheel did in part play a role in the accident, they may use a lower multiplier to help you recover the damages for your pain and suffering.
What Are the Criticisms on the Multiplier Method?
When looking at reasons why people criticize the methods insurance companies use to determine the compensation costs for your accident, it breaks down to two key factors. The first mainly focuses on the argument for using arbitrary multipliers by attorneys. More specifically, the issue lies within the inconsistency of the multipliers since many attorneys will take different opinions on what factors should be calculated. Take for example, after an accident, an attorney may deem the damages in need of more regard toward severity than the other. So they'll double the multiplier. On the other hand, a different attorney's opinion could increase the multiplier to six, drastically widening the variance gap between the two estimated sums.
Along with the inconsistency, the multiplier method can often produce misleading results. For example, say a librarian and a guitarist get into a car accident, and the guitarist suffers from a broken wrist. While the guitarist's medical bills may be less than or equal to the librarian who suffered from minor injuries, the compensation would not equal the same.
In this case, your attorney can argue that the librarian would be able to return to work after recovering from their injuries, while the guitarist is now suffering from emotional and psychological distress due to the inability to play music in order to earn a living wage. In many cases, when using the multiplier method and only reviewing the costs of medical bills, victims often miss out on the compensation they'll need in the long run.
What Is the Damage Formula?
When going through the process of negotiating a claim, typically, the at-fault party's insurance adjuster determines the total cost of medical expenses that have resulted from the accident. These expenses are often referred to as medical special damages or special damages. In order for the adjuster to calculate the final settlement amount for the general damages where the injuries were considered minor after an accident, they will multiply the number of special damages by one and a half to three. Those calculated damages include pain and suffering, emotional injuries, and permanent disabilities. However, if the injuries sustained are deemed as more severe, the adjuster will then use the same formula but raise the amount multiplied by five or more, along with any lost income. The totals calculated then typically become the starting point for negotiations. Additional factors of the accident can be added once the negotiations have begun. Usually, once those factors are included, the settlement amount will change.
What Is the Per Diem Method?
Adding to the list of methods attorneys and insurance companies use to calculate the sum of damages is the per diem method. Also known as the daily rate method, while still similar to the previous techniques, this method allows your attorney or insurance company to curate a daily or weekly breakdown in the amount of money you'll receive during the time that you continue to suffer from your injuries post-accident.
How Accurate Are Accident Settlement Calculators?
As previously mentioned in the multiplier method, breaking your settlement down by using a formula can often lead to inconsistent numbers. Many accidents require more information or specific details about the incident to accurately and adequately curate an ending sum for your damages. With the inconsistencies over the arbitrary nature of the multiplier method, there is no way to ensure the amounts being estimated by one calculator will be similar or even close to the amount created by another. Leaving many to feel like these systems are untrustworthy. With that being said, it may not be wise to blindly trust the amounts that have been generated on the calculators, but instead to use the information provided to you to help break down the potential costs and sum up an idea of a more accurate estimate for your settlement.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Determine What My Car Accident Is Worth?
Hiring an attorney after your accident is like placing someone in your corner who understands your state's laws and the tricks insurance companies use to try and widdle down the compensation you rightfully deserve. As previously mentioned, to the untrained eye, what may seem like a fair settlement now can fail to cover any long-term medical costs, future injuries, or damages that may not have been properly accounted for in the original settlement. Our attorneys are experts when it comes to navigating these complex issues. Specifically trained to use their experience and knowledge to investigate your accident, they will accurately calculate the maximum value of your claim.
At the end of the day, hiring a car accident attorney will allow you to take a step back and focus on healing. For over 30 years at Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys have been fighting for victims of car accidents to get them the compensation and justice they are owed. Please fill out our free, no-obligation case evaluation form for more information on how an attorney can help your car accident case.