If you are ever injured in an accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover your losses. You will have to file a lawsuit and go to trial or accept a settlement to get what you deserve. Most cases are settled before trial, which can be accomplished before or after a lawsuit is filed.
Read on to learn more about settlements for personal injury claims.
Personal Injury Settlements Explained
A personal injury settlement is a resolution between disputing parties that is reached before or after a trial.
When you accuse someone of causing you injury, the defendant or the insurance company will hire a lawyer to evaluate the injured party's claim. If you have a solid case, the attorney may think that the defendant will lose the case in court. As such, the attorney may recommend the defendant settle the case. This will save the defendant a lot of time and money since trials are typically extremely expensive.
The defendant will then extend an offer for settlement, which is usually an offer to pay you some monetary compensation for your injuries. If you accept the offer, you will receive monetary compensation and agree to release your claims against the defendant. Some settlements may also require the defendant to stop or change a policy or behavior.
Types of Settlements
There are two main types of settlements: lump-sum settlements and structured settlements.
Lump-sum settlements give you monetary compensation all at once. This is the simplest way to pay and receive damages since it satisfies the defendant's obligation to pay the injured party all in one go.
In contrast, structured settlements give you periodic installments of income-tax-free payments over a period of time, sometimes years.
Structured settlements are typically funded by the defendant through the purchase of annuity from a life insurance company.
Factors That Determine Personal Injury Settlement Amounts
Insurance adjusters will look at the following factors to determine your personal injury settlement amount.
One of the first things an insurance company will review is the amount of medical treatment that the accident required.
Insurance companies evaluate pain and suffering damages higher if the accident requires or involves:
- Medical expenses for treating "hard injuries" such as broken bones, joint injury, nerve damage, head injury, and vertebrae injury
- Medical expenses for treatment rather than just diagnosis
- Prescribed medication for the injury
- Medical treatment by a hospital, clinic, or medical doctor
- A long recovery period or periods
- Long-term injury treatment plans
- Daily life disruptions, such as missed training, school, or vacation
- Permanent injuries such as loss of mobility, stiffness, scars, and weakness
In contrast, the company will typically evaluate pain and suffering damages lower if you experience the following:
- Soft tissue injuries such as bruises, sprains, and strains
- Medical treatment provided by non-M.D.'s
- Medical expenses for diagnosis rather than treatment
- An injury that does not require medication
- An injury that does not lead to lasting physical or emotional damage
- A short recovery period
Amount of Income Lost
The evaluation of your case will also include assessment of your lost income, past and future. Future lost income often involves analysis of factors such as career trajectory, industry, and other factors to calculate your future earning potential. These data points may be used to determine the amount of lost wages you may experience in the future. If your injuries resulted in permanent or long-term disability, the compensation for lost future earnings will be much higher than if you suffered a temporary injury or impairment.
Responsibility for the Event
Both sides of the case will also look at the degree to which each person involved in the injury producing event (i.e. crash, etc.) is responsible for the event. If your actions contributed to your injury, you will be held partially responsible for your damages despite suffering damages yourself.
For example, if you were injured as the result of a car accident in Ohio, your recovery may be reduced if you were partially at fault for causing the car accident. This concept is known as contributory fault or comparative fault. Per Ohio Revised Code Section 2315.33, multiple parties may be held liable for a car accident in Ohio including the party making the claim. Other states have similar laws.
What is a Reasonable Settlement?
Defendants and insurance companies have a vested interest in compensating you as little as possible.
Each case is unique and must be evaluated based on many individual factors. The information provided above includes a few points that factor into that evaluation, but each case is much more complicated. Many times it is impossible to obtain fair resolution without the help of an experienced attorney.
The Moore Law Firm's Cincinnati personal injury lawyers will stop the insurance company from taking advantage of you. If the insurance company will not be reasonable, we will try the case in court.
Interested in learning more about how we can help you? Contact us today for a free consultation.