How Much is the Average Personal Injury Settlement?
The value of a personal injury case varies significantly depending on several factors. For example, what type of accident caused your injury? Some common personal injury cases include auto, slip and fall, product liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death accidents. Each has varying factors that affect the compensation as well. To understand the value of your settlement, start with the financial, physical, and psychological losses you suffered. Those translate into the damages that make up your settlement’s value.
What Are the Potential Damages Included in a Personal Injury Settlement?
The term damages refers to the financial compensation you receive for the losses associated with your accident. In personal injury cases, damages are often similar. Still, they vary in value depending on the severity of your physical and emotional losses, referred to as economic and non-economic, respectively.
Economic damages are the financial losses associated with bodily injuries and property damage. These damages include:
- Cost of medical care. Medical treatment damages can include stays in the hospital, visits to clinics for follow-up care, rehabilitative treatments, the price of prescription medications and medical devices, and estimated costs for any ongoing medical care.
- Lost income. You can receive compensation for current and future lost wages if your injuries render you unable to work during treatment and recovery. In addition, if you developed a disability preventing you from ever doing the job you had, you can also include loss of earning capacity.
- Cost of property damage. Auto accidents are the most common form of a personal injury lawsuit. You may claim the cost of repair or replacement of your vehicle if the other driver is at fault for the accident.
- Cost of in-home care. If you are the primary childcare provider, you may need to hire help to care for your children during recovery. If you need help with other at-home activities, you may include those among the damages.
- Any out-of-pocket expenses. If you had to pay for transportation to and from medical visits or need to make functional renovations to your home to accommodate your condition, these are potential financial losses you can claim.
In cases of wrongful death, personal injury law allows members of the deceased person’s immediate family to sue for economic damages, including the cost of a funeral and burial or cremation. If your loved one was the primary provider for your family, you might sue for lost wages, loss of benefits, such as insurance and retirement plans, and loss of inheritance.
Non-economic damages are less specific and have more subjective value. Examples include:
- Pain and suffering specifically refer to the physical pain and suffering caused by the injuries.
- Mental anguish and emotional distress refer to psychological pain caused by your injuries’ effect on your life. If you suffer from anxiety or depression or are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, these mental health issues are recoverable damages.
- Loss of consortium is a form of non-economic damages specific to wrongful death cases. For example, if you lost a spouse or close family membership, you lost the benefits of that relationship as well.
- Loss of reputation. Some personal injury cases do not involve bodily injuries. For example, in defamation cases, the person who defamed your name must compensate for the damage to your reputation.
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life. Injuries resulting in permanent disability, amputation, or disfigurement can cause severe negative changes to a person’s ability to enjoy life as they did before.
In cases where personal injury victims choose to represent themselves, they may significantly devalue their claim by missing non-economic damages. A personal injury attorney can help you understand the worth of your claim and negotiate to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
How Do You Receive Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a financial award given to the plaintiff in excess of the compensatory damages. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make you as whole as possible financially. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for behavior exceeding simple negligence. For example, suppose you lost a family member in a severe car accident caused by a person who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and speeding. In that case, the court may order the defendant to pay punitive damages to steer them away from that kind of behavior in the future. Most states cap the amount of punitive damages the jury can award the plaintiff.
How Does Shared Fault Affect the Amount of Your Settlement?
As the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you should expect the defense to respond to your demands letter with their own accusations. For example, if you suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident, the defense may attempt to diminish the defendant’s fault by claiming you are either entirely or partially responsible for the accident.
If you are entirely responsible, you cannot recover damages and must manage your financial losses independently. However, if you are only partially responsible, the court will apply the comparative negligence rule. Comparative negligence works like this:
- The court measures the contributions of both parties to the accident and assigns each a percentage of responsibility.
- The court determines the financial value of all compensatory damages.
- The court requires the defendant to pay the total value of damages minus the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
Most states use the modified comparative negligence rule, which caps the plaintiff’s eligibility for compensatory damages at 50% or 51%. In those states, the defendant does not have to compensate a plaintiff with a percentage of fault higher than their own. Other states use the pure comparative negligence rule, which requires the defendant to pay some portion of damages, as long as the plaintiff is not entirely responsible for the accident. Therefore, if you, the plaintiff, are 80% responsible for the accident, you could still receive 20% of the total value of damages.
Do You Need the Help of a Personal Injury Attorney?
On average, victims of personal injuries receive a higher settlement with the help of an experienced attorney. The reason is personal injury attorneys offer legal expertise and negotiation skills far more advanced than the average person. Of course, you are under no obligation to hire an attorney to help with your case, but you would likely benefit from the relationship.
Personal injury lawsuits require the plaintiff to provide ample evidence to support their claim. This means you must prove the defendant caused your accident and the injuries incurred. Your attorney will investigate the accident to collect the evidence you need. Their experience in other cases grants them access to experts who can assist in discovery. They also represent you in all communications and file all the necessary paperwork for your lawsuit, allowing you that time to focus on getting your life back to normal.
At Phillips Law Group, we have a team of dedicated personal injury attorneys prepared to listen to the circumstances of your case and how your injury changed your life. We can also help you understand how fault plays a role in your accident. Our goal is always to act in your best interest and be your advocate during negotiations. The financial repercussions of your accident are not your burden to bear. Contact Phillips Law Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation and speak to a personal injury lawyer who can help you.
Jasmine helped me so so much I want to thank her ! And also Aaron , i was always scared after an accident , knowing I would have to deal with lawyers but not here . Luckily I’ve only been in 3 accidents but this time it was fast and easy . And i received all the treatments I needed to help me recover ! Thank you Jasmine and Aaron!
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