If you’ve filed a claim after sustaining a serious injury, you may wonder about the amount you can expect from a settlement. Your settlement can help you pay for legal expenses, medical bills, and the many other costs you may be facing, so it’s important you secure a fair settlement that covers your needs.
What factors impact personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts?
If you’re looking for personal injury settlement amounts and examples, you can find individuals who received under $50,000 in a settlement and those who received millions of dollars. This is because many factors can impact your claim and the settlement amount you may receive, including monetary damages and non-monetary damages. Monetary damages can include:
- Lost wages. Whether you have lost time at work during your recovery or because your injury prevents you from working, you can seek to recover lost income through your claim.
- Medical bills. About 17.8 percent of Americans have medical debt, and after an injury, medical costs can add up. The higher your medical bills, the higher the potential settlement to cover those costs.
- Therapy expenses. Occupational, physical, and other types of therapy can help you recover or adapt to new mobility challenges after a serious injury. These can be ongoing, long-term costs and it’s important to calculate them when determining what a fair settlement might look like for an injury.
- Incidental costs. In addition to lost income and medical costs, many injured patients face a host of incidental expenses after an injury. They may need to replace or repair personal property which was damaged in the incident causing the injury, for example. Patients may need to pay for medication, medical devices such as wheelchairs, as well as taxis, and transportation to doctor’s appointments. They may need grab bars as well as other adaptive devices for the home.
All these costs can impact the settlement amount, but so can non-monetary damages. These are harder to quantify since they encompass pain and suffering and the impact an injury can have on a plaintiff’s life. In many cases, the costs of nonmonetary losses are calculated as a modifier, based on the monetary damages and the expected impact of the injury on the plaintiff’s life.
In addition to monetary damages and non-monetary damages, there are other possible types of damages in a personal injury settlement. These can include wrongful death damages, which can be recovered by immediate family if injuries prove fatal. Punitive damages are also sometimes an option in a personal injury claim if the recklessness or gross negligence causing the injury was especially egregious.
Which particular factors are most impactful?
Monetary factors, especially medical bills, property damages, and lost income, tend to have the largest impact on a settlement since these are the factors that can drive up costs for an injured patient. The reason a person with severe spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury can pursue a large settlement is that their ongoing costs and losses are considerable. They may simply not be able to return to their regular lives and jobs without significant support, and a settlement can help address this. Factors that can negatively impact a settlement amount include:
- Added expenses. It is not unusual for unexpected expenses to arise after a serious injury. During the time it takes to settle a claim, for example, a patient may face complications due to their injuries or additional medical costs. These are usually not included in the settlement because the parties did not anticipate them. The non-monetary damages awarded can help pay for these and for filing fees and other incidental expenses related to a claim.
- Liens. After an injury, it can take some time to secure a settlement but medical bills related to the injury may come due right away. When patients cannot pay, medical facilities or insurance companies may place a lien against the proceeds of the settlement to ensure payment. Some plaintiffs also seek litigation financing, which places a lien against the expected proceeds of the settlement.
- Legal costs. Plaintiffs who work with an attorney need to pay for those services and some payment structures earmark a portion of the proceeds of settlement for this purpose. In some cases, attorneys may seek to have a defendant held liable for legal costs.
In addition to these costs, keep in mind that simply waiting for a settlement can incur additional costs. Some plaintiffs borrow money at interest to cover living costs while waiting for the proceeds of settlement and of course at any time additional costs may occur.
How To Calculate Personal Injury Settlement Amounts
A simple way to calculate your potential settlement is to add up the expenses related to your injuries so far, including medical expenses, incidental costs, lost wages, and other losses you have incurred. Multiply this by one to three if your injury is a bone fracture or other injury from which you expect to recover, or multiply your monetary losses by up to five or more if your injuries were catastrophic and will have life-long impacts. These are your possible non-monetary damages. Subtract any liens or expected legal costs.
While this can give you a very rough estimate, keep in mind that many other factors can affect your settlement. The defendants in the case and their liability play a role, for example. There is also no promise that a settlement will be reached at all. No one can guarantee a settlement or specific dollar amount for an injury claim.
The best way to determine how much your claim may be worth is to speak with an attorney. An attorney who has worked with hundreds of plaintiffs has a sense of the range of settlements possible in your area for injuries similar to yours. They can also help you understand what you can expect from the claims process.
How can having an attorney impact your settlement amount?
Ultimately, settlements come down to negotiations. Defendants will try to resolve claims as inexpensively as possible while your attorney will seek to get the fairest amount for your injury. An attorney can impact your settlement in a number of ways:
- Attorneys understand what injuries may be worth, so they start in a position of strength when negotiating.
- Attorneys have experience with how insurance companies and defendants evaluate injuries, so they can respond to attempts to lower a settlement amount.
- Working with medical and other professionals, attorneys can present a strong case for why you deserve a fair settlement amount.
- Defendants simply tend to take claims brought forward by an attorney more seriously.
After an injury, the last thing you want is to deal with our complex legal system. One of the benefits of working with an attorney is that they can focus on securing your settlement while you can put your attention on your health.
How can Johnson Garcia Law help?
In 2020 alone, there were 332,732 civil filings in the United States. If your personal injury claim is among them, working with an attorney ensures you’re working with someone seeking to recover a fair settlement for you.
Johnson Garcia Law was created to help clients recover damages after an injury. Our Houston personal injury lawyers work with people who have been injured in car crashes, sports incidents, workplace accidents, and more. If you would like to know how much you can potentially recover in a settlement, contact Johnson Garcia LLP law firm today to speak to our legal team about your potential claim.