Personal injury lawsuits deal with issues involving parties being sued for negligence or wrongdoing and plaintiffs who’ve incurred injuries and losses from such. These legal proceedings seek to establish who is legally responsible for the damages and the amount that should be awarded to the complainant. Once the liability and damages are confirmed, the court will ask the liable parties to compensate the plaintiffs.
According to the US Department of Justice, only about five percent of personal injury complaints go through litigation. Put simply, more than nine out of ten personal injury cases end in settlements.
Continue reading below if you’re curious about how personal injury settlements work and how much to expect.
Understanding Personal Injury Settlements
Personal injury settlements cover a certain amount awarded by any liable party to compensate for the expenses incurred due to the accident. Settlement agreements between these two entities can be reached before or after the filing of a personal injury case.
Once the wrongful party pays for damages, the complainant will agree to withdraw future lawsuits related to the injuries or losses incurred during the incident.
Personal injury laws and settlements can be complex, and you need a skilled attorney to help you navigate the process. Suppose you or someone you know has suffered physical, psychological, and emotional harm from another entity’s wrongful actions. In that case, hiring an expert legal counsel from Tiemann law firm or other reputable firms in your area is best.
How Much Compensation Can You Expect from Personal Injury Settlements?
The exact amount for personal injury settlements is difficult to pinpoint, as the circumstances of each case vary. Personal injury lawyers study the facts to determine the type and severity of physical, emotional, and psychological injuries, medical care required, future losses and earnings, and legal costs involved in a trial.
More catastrophic injuries and damages demand higher settlement amounts. So far, US history saw a USD$ 246 billion settlement in 1998, awarded by tobacco manufacturers to the 46 US states that initiated the lawsuit.
A personal injury case complainant can sue for any or all of these types of damages:
- Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages refer to the expenses and losses caused by the injury in whichever form.
Economic damages settlement includes:
- Medical cost reimbursements
- Payment for future medical care
- Lost wages
- Future lost income
- Property loss or damage
- Other financial losses or expenditures attributed to the accident
Receipts and paychecks often validate these costs, so keep them handy when speaking with your lawyer.
Non-economic damages settlement includes non-quantifiable losses, such as:
- Physical discomfort and pain
- Emotional distress
- Psychological suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In general, a multiplier method is used in these settlements. Once the value of economic damages is determined, the figure is multiplied by 1.5 to 5, with cases involving significant damages and injuries assigned higher multipliers. The severity of injuries, recovery duration, and if the impairment is temporary or permanent are considered in setting a multiplier.
- Punitive Damages
These damages are awarded when a liable party is found intentionally harmful. The aim is to punish the defendant for their actions and not pay for the losses. Thus, in some cases, the plaintiff can be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study released in 2011, the median punitive damage was USD$ 64,000, while 13% of cases with punitive awards had payments of at least USD$ 1 million.
- Wrongful Death Damages
When negligence or wrongdoing results in death, the deceased person’s family may file for wrongful death. The damages for such claims often include economic and non-economic factors, including funeral and burial fees and future financial contribution losses of the deceased.
Common Personal Injury Cases And Settlement Amounts
Below you’ll find the most common personal injury cases and the notable cases that ended in settlements.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
A car accident in 1998 left a motorist severely paralyzed and requiring lifetime medical care. She was awarded USD$ 19 million. Similarly, a New York pedestrian lost her left leg in a truck accident and was granted USD$ 27.5 million in compensatory damages.
- Medical Malpractice
A patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit following a misdiagnosis of a headache instead of early symptoms of a mild stroke, leaving the complainant unconscious for three months and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was awarded USD$ 216.8 million, including USD$ 100.1 million in punitive damages.
- Product Liability
In 2018, Ford agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit involving faulty Takata airbags for USD$ 299.1 million. More than 23 deaths and 290 injuries were attributed to the exploding airbags.
These are only a few of the several grounds for personal injury cases. Other cases covered include workplace injuries, slip and fall accidents, dog bites, defamation, etc., which demand varying settlement amounts.
Personal injury settlements require negotiations with the insurer or defendant to agree on a certain amount for your injuries, losses, and future earnings. Settlement amounts are larger in catastrophic incidents, with grave and life-changing results.
Before agreeing to a settlement, hiring a lawyer is best to determine which factors to consider in maximizing settlement outcomes.