If you’ve been injured and it is someone else’s fault, you have probably been contacted by their insurance company with a settlement offer and are wondering whether to accept it. If you haven’t been contacted yet, you might be wondering if you should contact them and if so, what settlement amount to ask for.
Read this article first! The Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Cousin Benny explain the factors that influence and determine the amount of a settlement as well as the three types of compensation available in a Pennsylvania personal injury case.
While this article will help you estimate the settlement you deserve, there are many factors that require medical and forensic experts’ calculations, such as future medical expenses and loss of future earning capacity. Also, insurance companies are notorious for offering a low-ball settlement initially, especially if the victim is not represented by an injury attorney. Call Cousin Benny today to find out what your case is actually worth – free of charge!
Factors Influencing a Personal Injury Settlement
The Type and Severity of Injuries Suffered
The more severe injuries are and the more they impact a victim’s life, the more compensation they are due for medical treatment and the effect on the victim’s future.
In the case of severe injuries, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of future earning potential can increase a settlement exponentially. Even less severe injuries may warrant a large settlement depending upon the type of injury and the effect on the victim. For example, if a professional guitarist loses the tip of their left hand pinky and can no longer play or play as well or easily, this relatively minor injury for most can be catastrophic for them and their future earnings. Even an amateur guitarist in these circumstances is due compensation for the loss of the enjoyment of playing the guitar.
The Actions of the At-Fault Party
If the at-fault party or parties’ actions causing the victim’s injuries were willful, malicious, or with no regard for the safety of others, a court may impose additional monetary sanctions on them if the matter goes to trial. In Pennsylvania, punitive damages are determined by multiplying compensatory damages by a number set by the court.
Precedents in Your Jurisdiction
Insurance adjusters look to previous settlements in cases similar to yours for guidance when they offer a settlement. Of course, insurance companies are just like any other business – they are concerned with their bottom line. The more they collect in premiums and the less they pay out in claims, the more they make for their shareholders.
The insurance company’s interests conflict with yours. Consider this when you get an initial settlement offer. The initial offer may be very, very low compared with what you actually deserve.
The Reputation of Your Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney will have a reputation for vigorous negotiation, and when negotiation fails, fierce litigation to judgment. If an insurance adjuster does not know the attorney, it is a simple matter for them to learn of the attorney’s successes by searching the court records. They calculate the loss they take if they litigate when tendering an offer to settle.
Types of Compensation Available in a Personal Injury Case
In general, economic damages are more easily calculated than non-economic damages in that you need only total your current medical bills and your lost wages to calculate what you are due. These may include:
- Medical expenses, including surgeries and other treatment, prescriptions, assistive devices, and therapies
- Alterations to vehicle or residence
- Property damage
- Lost wages
If your injuries are severe or will probably have a long-lasting impact, your personal injury attorney will consult forensic and medical experts to calculate the following:
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of future earning capacity
Pain and Suffering and Emotional Distress
Emotional distress and pain and suffering, which encompasses both physical and emotional distress, are calculated considering the following factors:
- How severe the injuries are
- The type of injuries
- What medical treatment was needed
- What medical treatment will be needed
- Whether there is permanent injury, such as loss of a limb, a sense such as eyesight, or scarring and disfigurement
- The length of recovery time, if the victim will ultimately make a total recovery
- Possible long-term effects of the injuries
- The amount of insurance coverage available
- The age of the accident victim
- The impact of the physical injuries on the victim’s well-being
- The victim’s emotional trauma including but not limited to PTSD, stress, anguish, grief, pain, anxiety, and humiliation or embarrassment
- The impact on daily life, including daily tasks, activities, hobbies, or work the victim can no longer perform or struggles to perform due to their injuries
- The impact on family life if the victim’s injuries affect their relationships with their spouse and children
If the at-fault party acted extremely recklessly or intentionally in causing harm to the victim, a court may award punitive damages to the victim as a way of punishing the wrong-doer and giving others who may be considering behaving similarly incentive not to do so.
There are limits to the amount that the court can award in punitive damages in PA. For example, PA statutes provide that in medical malpractice cases, punitive damages cannot exceed 200% of compensatory damages awarded. Punitive damages against a government agency are limited to $250,000, while punitive damages against a local agency are limited to $500,000.
Personal Injury Settlement FAQs
How do lawyers negotiate settlements?
Experienced personal injury attorneys collect evidence such as medical records and bills, lost wages, and the effect your injury has on your life now and in the future to negotiate the initial settlement offer up.
How do you negotiate pain and suffering?
A pain and suffering award is based upon how severe your injury is and how it impacts you now and in your future. If you will be in continuing pain, you have been permanently disfigured, or your injury affects your work, hobbies, ability to perform daily tasks, or family life, you must present proof of that to get the appropriate pain and suffering award.
How is emotional distress calculated?
While emotional distress and pain and suffering (physical and emotional distress, both) can be difficult to quantify but may be a multiple of the economic damages you’ve suffered. What your damages are multiplied by depends upon things like the severity of your injury and how it impacts your life going forward.
How is a settlement value calculated?
An insurance adjuster will contact you with either an unreasonably low offer or a low offer that is on the low side, but negotiable. They have all the facts you do except how your injuries affect your life now and in the future, if applicable, and will likely offer to cover the medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages they find compensable, which is likely less than you want to be compensable.
How are personal injury settlements paid?
Personal injury settlements are usually paid to your injury lawyer, who deposits it in their trust account, calculates the amount you must pay in costs and fees according to your written retainer agreement, and issues a check to you for the remainder.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer Today
You’ve been injured and you need to focus your energy on recovering. Let Cousin Benny deal with the insurance company and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today to discuss your case in your free, no-obligation consultation.
At Cousin Benny, we treat you like family!