If you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault, by law you could be entitled to compensation. But when making a personal injury claim, there’s one key thing to keep in mind. In terms of personal injury settlement amounts, there is no one true figure in terms of a dollar amount.
It would be great if you knew exactly how much you could get. But in reality things are a great deal more complex than that. In terms of personal injury settlement amounts, there are a number of factors and variables that can determine exactly how much an individual can get. Potential settlements can depend on a wide variety of variables. Each case will no doubt be different and unique to the last. Each claim will be different but to help you get a better idea of how much you could be entitled to in terms of personal injury settlement amounts, we’ll now be looking at some key factors that commonly affect personal injury settlements.
How to reach a personal injury settlement
Before we take a look at some of the key factors affecting personal injury claims, first off, we’ll take a look at how to actually reach a settlement. Typically, you reach a settlement when the defendant agrees to pay the plaintiff a certain amount of money in order for them to drop the case. It’s rare that these cases end with a jury verdict. More often than not, it’s possible to reach a settlement before the plaintiff even files an official lawsuit. This is normally done for the individuals involved by their insurance companies, along with help from their attorneys.
Unless the case does indeed go to trial, both the defendant and the plaintiff will attempt to realistically determine exactly how much they feel the settlement could be. They will ordinarily reach a figure by researching similar cases and looking at how much the plaintiff received in compensation. They will also consider any unique circumstances or key factors that may apply. Here are the four central factors that will determine your compensation.
One of the biggest factors that can affect personal injury settlement amounts is liability. Liability will determine whether or not you will receive anything at all. Even though there could be high potential damages, there may not necessarily be a great deal of evidence to suggest that the defendant is actually at fault. In some cases it could literally be one person’s word against another. This obviously makes things a great deal more complicated.
There will be cases out there where it is as clear as day that the defendant is liable. But there will also be others where it isn’t entirely clear who may be at fault. In any case, unless it is obvious who is at fault, then neither party will be completely confident that they would win the case, which is why they may choose to settle instead. These initial negotiations will be done on your behalf by your insurance company. If the insurance companies cannot agree, then the case can go to trial.
In terms of personal injury settlement, damages are the first factor in deciding how much you may get. Damages is a pretty broad term, as it covers a wide spectrum of different things. Some key examples of damages include:
- Financial losses, such as the value of a written-off car.
- Loss of wages, if your injuries were significant enough that you could no longer work.
- Medical bills and expenses incurred from your hospital stay. These bills contribute hugely to your damages, especially if your hospital stay was a long one.
- Emotional and physical distress, pain, and suffering experienced by the plaintiff.
- In the event of a defendant acting negligently, or intentionally for that matter, you may also find that your attorney could claim punitive damages.
Punitive damages are in place to punish defendants when they are clearly at fault. The amount received will depend on how wealthy the defendant is. For example, if the defendant is wealthy, punitive damage payouts could potentially be high. You may also find that if the plaintiff has considerable evidence indicting the defendant’s fault. In this case, the defendant may likely offer a larger-than-expected settlement in the hope of avoiding hefty punitive damages.
Again, calculating potential damages can be tricky. That’s why both parties’ attorneys will look into previous cases of a similar nature. It is possible to see which damages were relevant and how much the plaintiff is likely to win.
Assets of the defendant
Sometimes you will find that it is simply unfeasible to ask a defendant to pay a settlement because they simply do not have the funds, or the necessary insurance coverage, to cover the settlement. In this event, if the case did reach trial and the defendant was guilty, a judge could garnish their wages, or sell off the defendant’s assets to cover the payment. If however, the defendant simply has nothing of value and no means of paying the settlement, they simply cannot pay, it’s that simple.
When attempting to determine personal injury settlement amounts, commonly you will find that a multiplier will be applied in order to calculate pain, suffering, and loss of earnings based on your injuries. The higher the multiplier, the larger the settlement will likely be. Some factors that could indicate higher multipliers include: medical expenses, lengthy recovery periods, emotional and physical distress, changes to your quality of life, hard injury i.e. broken bones, head injury, soft-tissue damage, nerve damage, and so on.