Suing is one of your options in the aftermath of a serious boating accident, but is it always a good idea? Here at the Law Office of Bart Bernard, we can discuss this with you during a free case evaluation. Generally, we tell people it’s worth pursuing a settlement or jury award if you have suffered a serious injury (like a “hard” broken bone injury), a permanently disfiguring injury (like burns from a fire), or a disabling injury (like perforation of an internal organ, spinal cord damage, or TBI). While a particular outcome cannot be guaranteed, we get paid on contingency, so we only take cases we are confident we can win. Here we will discuss some of the factors that go into valuing the worth of your maritime accident case.
How is the value of my case determined?
Calculating damages, otherwise known as monetary compensation, is a difficult task. The first step is to work with healthcare professionals who can assess and treat your injuries. Medical professionals are our biggest ally in estimating the cost of ongoing medical care needs and expenses. In the preparation of your case, we’ll show how the maritime accident injured you and cost you a great deal of money. There are other less tangible considerations as well.
What are tangible expenses in a maritime injury case?
Eligible compensation for personal injury cases like maritime accidents typically include tangible expenses:
- Past, present, and estimated future medical bills
- Lost past and present income, and loss of earning capacity related to disability
- Assistive devices and home modifications to accommodate disability
These totals can be easily gathered from your insurance company, healthcare provider, and employer, as well as receipts you have saved from disability-related purchases.
What are intangible expenses in a maritime injury case?
You can also recover compensation for intangible expenses like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of hobbies and interests due to disability.
What compensation can surviving family members receive in a maritime accident case?
Additional benefits may apply for family members, particularly if you have lost a loved one in a maritime accident:
- Loss of consortium for spouses
- Loss of companionship for spouses and children
- Loss of income for dependents
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses.
How is pain and suffering calculated in maritime accidents?
Generally speaking, attorneys and insurance companies may use one of two methods to calculate “pain and suffering” value.
- They may multiply your actual damages (medical bills and lost wages) by a multiplier between 1 and 5, depending on the severity and permanence of the injury. So if you suffered a broken bone that incurred $3,000 in medical bills, it may be multiplied by three to calculate $9,000 for pain and suffering.
- Another method of calculating pain and suffering involves a “per diem” approach that assigns a certain amount (say $100) for every day from the date of the accident to the plaintiff reaches maximum recovery.
How are punitive damages calculated for maritime accidents?
Punitive damages are rare in a personal injury case, but they may be applied when the other party involved was intentionally negligent or malicious. Often, these punitive damages are what brings the total amount of a maritime accident settlement up into the millions of dollars.
There are no hard, fast rules on how punitive damages are calculated, but we commonly see that it’s double or triple the compensatory damages awarded. So, for instance, if you receive $10,000 in damages, the Defendant may be ordered to pay $20,000 to $30,000 in punitive damages.
In the State of Louisiana, punitive damages cannot exceed the compensatory damages awarded to the Plaintiff by a factor of 10. So if you were awarded $10,000, the maximum punitive damages is $100,000.
A Noteworthy Maritime Settlement
In the landmark case of Ron Warren vs. Teleflex, a jury in Louisiana awarded $23 million in punitive damages to a man whose son was killed in a Prien Lake boating accident. The jury found Teleflex negligent in the design and safety testing of their boat steering system, with 15 years of internal testing showing the problems that could arise with a hydraulic fluid leak. Bart Bernard served as the plaintiff’s counsel in this case.
Contact A Maritime Accident Attorney
Contact Louisiana maritime accident attorney Bart Bernard for the highest level of legal representation. His experience in offshore oil rig and boating accident law will help you obtain the maximum recovery for your injuries.
Additional Resources on Valuing Maritime Accident Cases:
- EHow – How insurance companies calculate pain and suffering, http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/insurance-company-determine-pain-suffering.html
- Propeller Safety, $23 million Circle of Death propeller accident verdict upheld, http://www.propellersafety.com/12426/legal-propeller/circle-of-death-verdict-23-million-upheld/