Personal injury settlement amounts in the Evergreen State vary. Due to the variety of cases and their differences, it’s impossible to pinpoint a set amount without a detailed inspection of the specifics of your case. We’ve all heard of personal injury settlements that have gone way into the millions of dollars, but that’s not the case for all of them.
No injury victim should ever accept a settlement without speaking to an experienced lawyer. A defendant’s insurance company or legal counsel may bully or bait you into taking a lower amount than you’re due, and they aren’t working in your best interest. Washington State residents should consult a Herschensohn personal injury lawyer in Seattle before making any decisions.
What Factors Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Settlement?
How much you’ll be offered in a pre-trial settlement or a jury award will differ for each lawsuit. Several factors will determine just how much your case is worth. Only a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can zero in on what you can expect to receive. Even with years of experience, sometimes even lawyers are way off base. However, some basic factors can influence how much your case is worth.
- The severity of your injuries, how long they’ll last, and how long your medical care will be
- Whether you were partially at fault
- For cases that go to trial, how the jury perceives you
- If there’s insurance to cover your damages
Injuries, Treatment, and Prognosis
One of the first factors to consider is the nature of your injuries, how they’ll be treated, and your short- and long-term prognosis. An injury that leaves you disabled somehow will be valued more than one that will heal in time. Hard injuries such as broken bones, torn ligaments and muscles, and dislocations are considered severe and play a major role in a settlement. Less severe soft injuries such as muscle strains and sprains will pay less.
The type of medical treatment required to heal your injuries is also a key factor in how much you can expect from a personal injury settlement. Traditional medical treatments like surgeries, physical therapy, and necessary prescription medications typically increase the value of a settlement. Insurance companies generally downplay non-traditional treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care.
Long-term or permanent injuries are seen as life-altering and will typically provide a larger settlement amount and disfigurements. These types of injuries could affect a person’s ability to work and earn an income or can lead to a life of chronic pain. They could also require expensive therapies or modifications to your home if the injury leaves you with mobility issues. Injuries that will heal over time and won’t affect your quality of life don’t hold as much weight.
Fault and the Likeability Factor
If the reason for your injuries is partially your fault, this will lower the value of your claim. This situation is most common in automobile accidents, where the plaintiff may be partially responsible. Washington state allows for comparative negligence, so even if you were somewhat responsible for the accident, you might still have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. The percentage of your responsibility for the accident will reduce the settlement amount.
Another factor that determines the value of a personal injury settlement is an odd one. If the case were to go to a jury trial, the plaintiff’s legal counsel would decide how they think a jury will like you as a person and how they’d view the defendant. Although a judge will instruct the jury that sympathy mustn’t play a role in their verdict, basic human nature says otherwise. If the defendant is elderly, a child, or just perceived as a good person, they’ll tend to award higher settlement amounts.
Insurance plays a big part in the value of a personal injury lawsuit. If the defendant has adequate insurance, there’s plenty of room for a settlement to be quite large, depending on the circumstance. However, if the defendant doesn’t have insurance or is underinsured, your case is only worth what they can pay.
You may think that if you win a big settlement with an under or not-insured individual, the courts will demand they seize their assets and liquidate them so you’ll be paid. Unfortunately, if it did happen, the defendant could declare bankruptcy.
Factors That Affect the Value of Personal Injury Settlements Explained
A personal injury attorney will fight to get you the biggest settlement offer possible. It’s what they do best. However, several factors play a big part in how large that settlement can be. The biggest one is how severe and life-changing your injuries are and how they will affect your ability to earn a living. Damages can also be awarded for pain, suffering, or mental anguish, but these are much more difficult to prove.