Most insurance claims and lawsuits related to injuries are settled rather than decided by a trial. Typically, settlement amounts are divided into economic losses and non-economic damages.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and often minimize the amount they pay injured claimants. Your attorney will help you determine what your case is worth.
Most accidents resulting in injury lead to costly medical bills. Severe injuries can cost thousands annually for treatment and medication. Many personal injury cases take months and sometimes years to resolve, meaning you may have to pay for your treatments while waiting for a settlement.
Fortunately, you can have these costs covered through your personal injury settlement. However, it is essential to understand how are personal injury settlements paid out and what factors determine your settlement’s fair cash value.
Medical special damages are a part of your general damages and are meant to cover the costs of your medical care and recovery. This includes medication costs, nursing care, travel to appointments, and modifications to your home or car needed to accommodate your injuries.
Suppose your medical treatment was paid by private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid before you received a personal injury settlement. In that case, these companies will likely want their money back from the settlement. This is not uncommon and depends on your case and your insurance policy. Generally, these amounts will be multiplied by a factor of 1.5 to 5 to determine the amount of your medical special damages. This is intended to help offset the costs of your recovery so you can focus on getting well.
Many accident victims are left without a steady income following an injury that leaves them unable to work. This loss of income can quickly lead to financial issues and debt that can have long-lasting consequences. A victim may recover compensation for lost wages under their personal injury settlement. Still, they must present as much evidence as possible to make a successful claim.
Proof of past lost wages is relatively easy to provide through paystubs, W-2 forms, and other wage documents. These documents show how much money an individual would have made in a given period before their injury and demonstrate how much they missed due to the accident. The same can be shown for recurring expenses not paid due to the injury, such as late fees and penalties.
The calculation for future lost wages is more complex. It involves testimony from experts on the injured person’s employment trajectory and what their abilities are likely to be going forward. For this reason, it is often essential to work with a personal injury attorney and forensic economist to ensure the claims are accurate. Taking this action will increase the likelihood of recovering the damages successfully. Ultimately, all accident victims should be compensated for the losses they experience due to the negligent behavior of others.
Damages for pain and suffering
Non-economic damages are a way to compensate for the loss of quality of life caused by your injury. They are more subjective than the economic damages easily quantified through medical bills and lost wages. Because of this, they are awarded on a case-by-case basis and are often left to the jury to place a fair dollar amount on.
Pain and suffering can be calculated in many ways, including using a multiplier or the per diem method. While these methods are a good starting point, they should not be used to guarantee what you will receive in your settlement. As with all things in the legal system, working closely with a professional lawyer ensures you receive what you deserve.
Once you have settled, your lawyer will prepare a release to sign. This releases you from future claims against the party responsible for your accident.
You may take a lump sum payment or choose a structured settlement, which is paid out in a series of payments over time. A benefit of this method is that it allows you to avoid putting too much pressure on your finances by being able to budget for smaller amounts over time.
When a jury decides on the amount of punitive damages, they must weigh objective and subjective factors. They may consider the scope of the defendant’s misconduct, their level of wealth, and the severity of your injury. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter others from committing similar wrongdoing.
Unlike compensatory damages, which reimburse you for your expenses and injuries, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant. They are typically awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were especially egregious and wildly negligent. For example, a surgeon who rushed through an operation and accidentally amputated a patient’s leg would qualify for punitive damages because their mistake was so severe and grossly negligent.
Punitive damages are usually added to a plaintiff’s compensation package, which can help drive up a settlement. But you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was so reckless and egregious that it warrants punitive damages. It is essential to have an attorney who can examine your case and support your claim for these additional damages. An experienced lawyer can consult field experts to determine the cost of your medical bills and other costs that have a monetary value, add up all your invoices and billing statements, and review the outcome of similar cases in New York. This allows them to accurately calculate your total economic damages and negotiate a fair settlement amount.