If you are a personal injury victim, then you must be wondering where to begin and just how much the personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts to. You should know that it all depends on the damages. This is the term used in law to explain the extent to which your injuries are worth in terms of money, mental and physical worth. In a personal injury settlement case, the total monetary damages are usually compensated to the person who is injured also known as the plaintiff. The whole amount is paid by the defendant who can be a person or an organization. The damage payable can be negotiated in a settlement between the parties involved in the presence of their respective attorneys.
The damages amount can also be decided by a judge in a court of law or a jury if the case goes to trial.
The following are some of the various types of damages that are commonly associated with personal injury.
Compensatory damages obtained in personal injury settlements
As the term suggests, such damages are categorized under compensatory to mean that their aim is to offer compensation to the injured person for what was damaged as a result of the injury. According to personal injury law, how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement depends on what will make you (plaintiff) whole again from the perspective of money value.
Some damages are easier to quantify than others. It is, however, difficult to monetize value in terms of pain and emotional suffering or one’s ability to continue enjoying past hobbies due to physical confines brought by the accident linked injuries. Forms of compensatory damages include:
Medical bills: Most personal injury damages here in America include the total charges for medical bills as a result of the accident. The damages you will receive will act as reimbursement for the medical care you had gotten and for compensation of the approximated medical costs for future care due to the accident.
Salary/income: The estimated amount of money that the plaintiff should have received as income is compensated together with the estimated amount that you would have obtained in future as salary or wages if not for the accident.
Damage to property: Property can include vehicles, jewelry, clothing and other objects that might have been damaged by the occurrence of the accident. You as the plaintiff will be entitled to compensation to cater for replacement and repairs at the current market value of the property in question.
Pain and suffering: As the plaintiff, you might be given compensation for the emotional pain and severe discomfort that you experienced as a result of the accident and during the recovery period.
Emotional distress: This type of damages is commonly associated with very serious accidents that result in the severe psychological effect of an accident injury. The effects may involve fear, extreme anxiety, and insomnia.
Loss/lack of enjoyment: Accident injuries may result in preventing the victim from enjoying routine activities which were done before the accident. Such pursuits involve activities like hobbies, body exercise, going to the movies among others. If this is the case, then you are entitled to be awarded damages.
Consortium loss: This personal injury case seeks to determine the effects of the injuries on the relationship of the plaintiff with his/her spouse. The victim is awarded damages if he/she fails to retain a sexual relationship. The loss of consortium monetary compensation is directly given to the family that is affected and not necessarily the plaintiff injured in the accident.
Punitive damages obtained in personal injury settlements
This type of damages is mostly awarded in scenarios where the defendant has questionable conduct especially if he/she was found to be seriously careless in a personal injury case. You as the plaintiff may receive punitive damages to the already awarded compensatory damages.
Though the punitive damages normally go to the plaintiff, the main aim of this type of award is to penalize the defendant for misconduct to act as punishment.
Actions/inactions that can affect the plaintiff from receiving a damages award
The role you play in the occurrence of an accident and the inaction after an injury can decrease the amount of damages you receive in a personal injury settlement. Some of the three cases include:
Comparative negligence: If you, the plaintiff is even remotely at fault for the occurrence of the accident that resulted in your injuries, then there is a probability that your compensation will consider that factor. Several states observe a law that connects damages to the extent of fault in ruling personal injury cases.
Contributory negligence: A few numbers of states adhere to this concept in personal injury lawsuits. The plaintiff might not be given any form of compensation if discovered that he/she was even slightly at fault.
Failure for damages mitigation after an accident: Most states require plaintiffs involved in personal injury lawsuits to make rational decisions aimed at minimizing the financial effects of the injury caused due to the accident. Such rational measures may involve seeking medical attention rather than sitting back and waiting of the situation to worsen.
The range for personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts
Personal injury settlements commonly range from $3000 to $75000. Another plaintiff has been known to receive way more while others end up getting nothing. This might be because the plaintiff who had severe injuries would receive higher compensation as compared to those who experienced mild forms of injury.
What are the factors that affect the total payout amount during settlement?
a. Injuries from the accident: The extent to which your injuries have affected you will determine the payout that you will receive from the defendant. The more severe your injuries, then the higher the amount will be. If you incurred large medical bills, then your compensation will be large too.
b. Insurance policy: The limits offered by your insurance company might result in you getting a low payout. The insurance company cannot offer you a personal injury settlement that is above your policy limits even if the personal injury case might amount to a higher value.
c. Representation by a lawyer: Having an experienced lawyer by your side might just be a factor that may contribute to you getting a payout that is worth your lawsuit. Legal representation might get you a higher compensation amount in damages. Those plaintiffs who represent themselves might not receive as much as they should.
d. Negotiations: It is always important to try and negotiate for a higher payout rather than simply accepting the offered amount. Sometimes the amount might seem higher to the plaintiff but further negotiations usually end up in an increase from the first offer. Try and get a better deal for your personal injury lawsuit settlement.
e. Filing for a lawsuit: Providing notification for a personal injury lawsuit can contribute greatly to your payout amount. Studies show that accident victims who went a mile ahead by threatening a lawsuit received standard settlements while those who did not file for lawsuits received lower amounts.
Filing for a personal injury claim
After experiencing a car accident, you may file for a lawsuit to receive compensation for your injuries and damage to your vehicle. Some of the relevant information required when filing for a lawsuit include:
- The contacts of all the individuals involved in the accident such as full names and addresses.
- The exact date and time of the accident.
- The specific location where the accident occurred.
- The full description of the vehicles involved such as license plates and the model.
- If possible the full names of those who witnessed the accident.
Negotiation of your personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts
The negotiation process during a lawsuit settlement can be tedious and overwhelming. It is advisable that you remain collected and composed throughout the negotiation period. Other ways to help improve your efficiency include:
Collecting and organizing your documents
Your documents should always be in order. They should be relevant to the case and provide comprehensive details regarding you and the case. You might win the lawsuit if you are able to provide all the necessary information with proof. The documentation may contain police reports, hospital bills, property repair charges, photos showing the severity of injury and damage to property. Others include statements of the witness at the time of the accident, pictures of the accident scene and estimation of lost salary and wages.
Establishing a minimum payout amount
You should be able to establish a minimum amount of payout that you consider to be worth your case. Consider factors that include hospital bills, total repair charges and other expenses incurred as a result of injuries obtained from the accident. After determining the value of your case, you will be better placed to negotiate for a reasonable amount.
Emphasize the accident
As you tell your side of the story, always remember to emphasize the severe nature of the accident and how it affected you. State your injuries with vivid description and the impact that your injuries will have on your life in the present and the future. You can always refer back to your documents which contain proof and back up to what you are saying. Using the documentation will prevent the defendant from lowballing you.
Common known causes of vehicle accidents resulting in personal injury
1. Speed driving
This is a major reason for the occurrence of car accidents. Drivers are usually advised to be responsible and adhere to the road signs that clearly show the speed limit required for a particular road. Speeding can result in multiple injuries to the driver and other road users.
2. Driving while on the phone
Phones and other gadgets can be very distracting. The distracted driver will be unable to see the road clearly causing an accident. You can park on the side of the road then text or call whoever you want to communicate with.
3. Unpredictable medical conditions
Such conditions include heart attacks, severe seizures, and stroke. A driver who loses consciousness as a result of these conditions might seriously harm themselves and others causing the vehicle to reel off the road.
4. Drunk driving
There have been several campaigns condemning the act of driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs. The judgment of such a driver is impaired and following traffic rules might become challenging. This driver puts himself behind the wheel under poor judgment ending up putting others in danger.
5. Mechanical breakdown
Sometimes mechanical failure might not be anybody’s fault. Machines break down and malfunction all the time. When such malfunction occurs when the car is the road then, serious consequences arise. The vehicle loses control and can lead to fatalities.
6. Poor weather
Foggy weather can be a great challenge to drivers because of poor road visibility. This can occur during a fog, slippery road and heavy downpour. This type of accident can be prevented by avoiding to go out on such weather conditions.
Personal injuries from car accidents
1. Head injuries
These injuries can be severe or mild depending on the extent of the car crash. Accident victims require urgent medical care to determine the proper course of treatment. The abrupt movement of the head causes muscle pains on the neck and back. The serious impact may cause lacerations to the head that may require stitches.
2. Chest injuries
Injuries to this part of the body mostly result in contusions. There can also be broken ribs and damage to internal organs on the chest cavity. Accident victims with chest pains should be rushed to the hospital for professional care.
3. Bruises and cuts
Loose objects contained in the car usually get thrown to different direction during a car crash. These objects may cause bruises and cuts when they hit the driver. This may lead to the scraping of the skin which causes bleeding.
The personal injury lawsuit settlement amount will depend on you understanding how much the accident you experienced is worth. You will have to prove that your injuries were as a result of negligence from the defendant. Your main goal is to receive compensation that will be satisfactory to you. Having the necessary knowledge of what is required of you is the first step to receiving compensation that you filed for.