Factors that may affect your Personal Injury Settlements
What should be the worth of a broken arm in a personal injury case?
It may not seem a comfortable question. But these are the type of questions a personal injury attorney who represent victims deal with on a daily basis. Calculating a personal injury settlement amount is a complicated thing, it is far from an exact science. There is no formula to calculate the settlement, however, a little understanding of the factors that affect the value of a personal injury case can help all the attorneys. They can then live up to the expectations of the clients and can work smoothly on the negotiations effectively and efficiently.
For solo attorneys and small law firms that lack the scale of larger adversaries, cultivating a well-honed ability to project personal injury settlement values can turn into a competitive advantage. It allows them to avoid unnecessary rigmarole and build the most effective arguments on behalf of their clients.
Under we have listed eight major factors that can affect your personal injury settlements cases.
1. Personal Injury Severity:
Severe accidents that ends up with major injuries are likely to have a bigger settlement amount, as the suffering and pain involved in the injury is huge. Under the major injury scale we have spinal cord injury, broke bones and any injury that leaves bigger impact on a victim. These major or in some cases permanent injuries however, increase the value of the settlement. Whereas bruising, sprains and soft tissue injuries are resolved with less settlement amount. However in both cases the brain trauma, diminished mobility, emotional stress remains permeant.
If the injuries from an accident dramatically disrupt your clients’ daily lives, they will likely produce a larger personal injury settlement. For example, some injuries make it more difficult for the victim to perform everyday activities such as walking or standing. The same goes for accidents that leave victims unable to play sports, travel or work certain jobs. All other things being equal, victims whose lives don’t change dramatically after an injury will receive less than those whose lives do.
3. Liability of the Injuries
The factors we’ve discussed so far relate to the impact of alleged injuries. But of course, there’s a primary question: is the defendant even liable for those injuries? The certainty with which a party can answer that question has a great impact on settlement value. In cases in which the other side is clearly at fault for a victim’s injuries, settlements will usually hit the higher end of the range for a given case.
4. Treatment and Recovery
Larger settlements generally occur when post-injury medical treatment involves doctors and hospitals, as opposed to physician assistants. Reconstructive surgeries are also associated with cases that involve high settlement values.
Similarly, the duration of a recovery period matters. Longer recoveries often entail a significant number of follow-up appointments and prescriptions for medical treatment, for instance. Cases with these indicia of longer recovery periods tend to have elevated settlement values. This also explains in part why soft injuries generally result in lower settlements.
Arguing liability questions effectively, then, is where personal injury attorneys can add great value for their clients. By taking time to identify and interview credible witnesses and compile appropriate evidence, attorneys can help their clients make the strongest cases possible regarding liability.
The old saying goes that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Any person or company who has been burned by negative headlines resulting from a personal injury case can attest to just how wrong that trope actually is. When an injury lawsuit has the potential to attract bad publicity, especially for high-profile defendants such as national chain businesses, settlements can skyrocket. The bad press is just too costly for the defendant to risk the scrutiny.
6. Mental & Emotional Trauma
The pain resulting from accidents often goes beyond physical injuries. Emotional trauma in the form of anxiety or depression can be equally debilitating in the aftermath of an accident. Of course, proving that clients are suffering psychological trauma is a different matter—one that can require meeting a high evidentiary bar. To impact a personal injury settlement, it usually requires input from reputable mental health professionals who can testify to an accident’s longer lasting psychological effects on a client.
7. Cost of Litigation
Clerical work. Deposing witnesses. Hiring experts to address technical issues. These costs can add up quickly for defendants, especially in cases with lots of witnesses or any number of contested scientific questions. In such cases, defendants may be willing to settle at a higher price to avoid running up their defense costs.
On the other hand, if plaintiffs lack the resources to litigate complex cases effectively, deep-pocketed defendants can squeeze them to cut down on the settlement’s value.
8. High Risk on the Case
When cases pass certain key milestones, the value of a settlement increases. The milestone events in a case vary, but often include getting past a motion to dismiss the case or taking an important deposition. The more hurdles overcome by a plaintiff, the better the settlement. Smart advocates can use the time period immediately before a milestone event to place pressure on the other side to settle. If the adversary is nervous about getting across that next milestone, they may be eager to compromise.