3 Key Factors that Determine Your Personal Injury Settlement Value
Why was the settlement so high? And how do lawyers determine the value of a civil settlement?
These questions don’t only matter in multi-billion dollar cases. They also matter to everyone who has ever filed a personal injury lawsuit. If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit, three factors will combine to determine the value of that claim.
If the other party was completely at fault, you would receive a higher payout than if you were partially or completely at fault. While New York has no-fault laws for car accidents, liability still matters in catastrophic car accidents and in other types of accidents that don’t involve cars.
As a rule of thumb, when juries award non-economic damages in a lawsuit, the award increases directly in correlation with the percent of liability that the defendant has in the case.
2. Quantity of Evidence
If you receive a settlement, this means that a jury didn’t decide the verdict of your lawsuit. You might have filed a lawsuit and even begun a trial. But at some point before the jury rendered a decision, you negotiated an agreement with the other party.
What would cause a defendant to agree to a negotiated settlement rather than wait for a jury ruling? Typically, the main factor that leads another party to settle is a substantial amount of evidence.
This is why the best way to win a case is to have as much evidence as possible. And a lawyer can estimate what the outcome of a jury trial will be just by looking at the evidence available.
If you have enough high-quality evidence that the opposing lawyer thinks you are likely to win, they will probably be willing to negotiate a fair settlement.
But why would you accept a settlement if the other side thinks you will probably win? There are two reasons. First, there is still a risk you will lose, and a settlement removes that risk. Second, trials can take a long time, and you can receive your money more quickly if you negotiate a settlement.
3. Severity of Injuries
The final key factor in determining the value of a settlement is the severity of the injuries you suffered.
In terms of economic damages, the seriousness of your injuries directly relates to the amount of your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Therapeutic costs
- Costs of medical and support equipment
- Costs of support services, like transportation or delivery
For example, if a broken arm takes two months to heal, you will need less medical attention and lose fewer work days than if you broke both legs and required six months to heal.
However, there is a second factor involved as well. Non-economic damages are typically closely associated with economic damage.
Non-economic damages reflect losses that can’t be given a set financial value. You can produce a doctor’s bill to show how much a week of therapy costs. But you can’t provide a value of how much dealing with that trauma decreased your quality of life.
When a jury awards non-economic damages, they are trying to do just that. Typically, awards for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or other non-economic damages roughly reflect the severity of the harm the victim suffered.
Sometimes juries will use a direct formula to determine damages. For example, a jury might award twice the value of economic damages as non-economic damages.
Regardless of the exact method, experienced personal injury attorneys know approximately what the top end is likely to be for these types of awards. In a settlement, you are likely to get offered an amount closer to the average award.
Your lawyer may recommend that you take a settlement offer rather than risk an unsatisfactory jury decision.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Get You the Highest Possible Settlement Value
If you or a loved one has been injured by the careless actions of another, you deserve to receive compensation for that harm. Contact us today to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, who will review your case for free.