How Much Should I Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement?
You usually can’t determine the value of your case upon your first meeting with a lawyer. The value of your case depends on many factors.
Those factors include:
Liability – Liability determines who is responsible for the accident. The greater the liability on someone else’s part, the more leverage to negotiate for a higher settlement value of the case.
Injuries – The types of injuries you sustained from the accident, and whether they are permanent or not, also play a role in what your case is worth. Your lawyer won’t be able to determine this until after you receive treatment and ideally diagnostic tests.
Treatment – If you were injured, the type of treatment you are going to receive matters. Will you be going to physical therapy, receiving injections, undergoing surgery, etc.? How long is it going to take for you to recover? Were you compliant with your treatment plan or did you miss appointments?
Impact of Injuries – How a particular injury affects someone is important to consider. Two (2) people can have identical injuries but one (1) person may be substantially more impacted by the injury than the other person. Are you out of work completely, on light-duty or working your regular shift? Were you hospitalized? Are you able to handle your normal household responsibilities, errands and chores? Did you need to hire household help? Miss out on social activities?
Age – Your age is a factor when negotiating a personal injury settlement.
Prior Medical History – Are you suffering from a brand new injury or did the accident aggravate an old injury? Your previous medical history will be examined to help figure out the injuries sustained during this particular accident.
Venue – Where your accident happened or where the claim can be brought also factors into the value of your case. For example, some counties are more conservative than other counties for personal injury awards. There may be more than one (1) option where a claim can be brought and it is important to choose the most favorable jurisdiction.
Economic Damages – Economic damages include wage loss (past and future), impairment of earning capacity (i.e. inability to do the same job you did before an accident), out of pocket medical expenses and liens. Are you able to go back to work right away? Will you ever be able to go back to your former job? These amounts are elements of damages, which may increase the value of your case.
Available insurance – Despite all these factors, the amount of insurance the defendant has available is the maximum recovery you may receive in some cases. In a car accident case, you can sometimes make a claim against your own insurance company for additional compensation.
Every personal injury case is unique. Insurance companies have an algorithm that considers all these different factors, and that is how they determine how much your case is worth. So, even if you know someone who had a similar accident, that does not mean that you’ll wind up with the same settlement.