How is an award or settlement determined in a personal injury case?

If you were injured in an accident, you may be facing unforeseen medical bills, and a long and painful physical, mental, and emotional recovery. Under the circumstances, it is understandable that you have questions about whether you can be compensated for your injuries and, if so, how much of a settlement offer can you expect. However, in all the years the members of our firm have worked in injury law, we've learned that personal injury cases can be as different as the parties involved, which makes it difficult to say how much you could stand to be compensated without first meeting with you to discuss your case. Fortunately, learning more about settlements and the types of damages you can seek can provide valuable insight to accident victims who seek a legal remedy.

How Is a Settlement Determined?

In personal injury cases, settlements can be determined through negotiations or, if the case goes all the way to trial, a judge or jury. The vast majority of personal injury claims are settled without either party having to set foot in a courtroom. At the beginning of the negotiation process, your attorney will work closely with you to calculate the damages to which you feel you're entitled, and will then send a demand letter to the individual or insurance company's attorney, asking for a high amount. The attorneys will go back and forth, discussing a variety of factors that can include:

  • Insurance coverage
  • Liability for the accident
  • The severity of your injuries
  • Medical prognosis and treatment

The severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident may play a significant role in determining the size of your settlement offer—this is true of personal injury cases settled both in and out of court. Ideally, after some back and forth, the attorney for the at-fault individual or insurance company will make a reasonable offer. If the parties cannot agree on a settlement amount, the case may continue to court, where both sides will present their arguments and a judge or jury determines how much—if any—financial compensation they should award.

Attorneys, juries, and judges usually come up with settlement amounts by calculating economic and non-economic damages.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Economic damages, also known as special damages or out-of-pocket losses, are past and future financial losses that can be calculated by reviewing a victim's accident-related bills. Examples of economic damages include past and future medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages, also called general damages, are more subjective and, thus, more difficult to calculate. Examples of non-economic damages include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment, or loss of reputation, consortium, or companionship.

Do You Need Help Pursing a Personal Injury Settlement?

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you may be entitled to seek a financial award to compensate you for your injuries. Don't let another minute pass without learning about your legal rights. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group are at your service. Complete our online contact form today and we'll be in touch to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.