How Much Do You Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement?
When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may wonder how much your injury claim is worth. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question.
It can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the legal system to accurately assess the value of their claim. Fortunately, an experienced attorney will have a good understanding of how to calculate the value of a claim and will fight for the full amount of compensation that you deserve.
Factors That Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Settlement in California
The amount of your settlement will depend on several factors, including:
Severity of injuries
There are two primary ways that the severity of your injuries can impact the value of your injury settlement:
- Medical bills: The more severe your injuries, often the higher your medical bills will be. Since your medical bills are typically one of the most significant expenses you incur as a result of an accident, they have a major impact on the value of your settlement.
- Pain and suffering: Your pain and suffering can depend on the nature of your injuries (e.g., whether they’re permanent or not). If a severe, long-term injury resulted in emotional distress, you may be able to recover more money for your pain and suffering.
Level of property damage
In California, personal injury settlements are based on a principle known as “comparative fault.” This means that the court will compare the level of fault between the plaintiff and the defendant. If the plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, they will not be eligible for compensation.
However, if the plaintiff is less than 50% at fault, their damages will be reduced by their degree of fault. For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages but is found to be 40% at fault, their settlement will be reduced to $60,000.
Lost wages if a victim cannot work
If you’ve been injured in an accident and cannot work, you may be entitled to lost wages as part of your personal injury settlement. Lost wages can be a significant portion of your overall damages, so it’s important to ensure you recover all the wages you’re entitled to.
In California, there are two primary ways to recover lost wages: through economic damages and through loss of earning capacity damages.
- Economic damages are intended to compensate you for your lost wages due to your injury.
- Loss of earning capacity damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate you for the loss of future earnings.
To recover lost wages, you will need to provide documentation of your injuries and their impact on your ability to work. This may include:
- Medical records
- Pay stubs, and
- Expert testimony
If you’re able to return to work but are earning less than you did before the accident, you may also be able to recover lost earnings through a vocational rehabilitation assessment.
Level of emotional and psychological trauma
The value of your personal injury settlement may be affected by the emotional and psychological trauma you experienced due to your accident. In California, pain and suffering damages are capped at $250,000, but this does not include emotional distress damages.
To maximize the value of your injury settlement, it is important to document how the accident has affected you emotionally and psychologically. This can include anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Keep a journal documenting your symptoms and how they impact your day-to-day life.
A personal injury lawyer can advise you on ways to maximize the value of your settlement and get the compensation you deserve.
How to Calculate a Personal Injury Settlement
A personal injury settlement in California is typically calculated by considering the total amount of damages sustained, including economic and non-economic damages.
There are two methods of calculating a personal injury settlement in California.
The multiplier method considers not only your medical bills and lost wages but also the pain and suffering you’ve endured. In California, the multiplier is typically between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of the injuries.
When an insurance company uses the multiplier method to calculate a personal injury settlement, they will take the total amount of your medical bills and other damages and then multiply that number by a figure between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries. For example, if you have $10,000 in medical bills and other damages and the insurance company uses a multiplier of 3, your settlement would be $30,000.
Per diem method
A per diem method for personal injury claims is when an injured person is compensated for each day they are affected by their injuries. For example, if someone is in the hospital for a week after a car accident, they would be compensated for each day that they were in the hospital. This compensation method can also be used for other damages, such as lost wages due to being unable to work.
For example, you sustain a brain injury and other economic damages amounting to $200,000 and experience pain from the injuries for 120 days after the accident. Assuming you were making $200 a day, your damages will be estimated at $24,000 ($200x$120), and a fair settlement amount would be $224,000.
A personal injury lawyer can help you determine the right formula for your case.
What Will Reduce the Compensation You receive?
There are a few things that can reduce the amount you receive as compensation for damages in California.
Shared fault rule
If you are found to be even partially at fault for an accident, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 in damages but are found to be 20% at fault, you will only receive $8,000.
California has laws limiting the amount of money awarded for certain damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. This means that even if a jury awards you a higher amount, the court will reduce it to comply with the cap.
If the person at fault for an accident does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover all of your damages, you may only be able to recover what their insurance policy limits are. This can often be much less than the full amount of your damages. In some cases, you may be able to recover from your insurance policy if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Maximize Your Personal Injury Settlement
If you’ve been injured in an accident, working with a personal injury lawyer is essential to ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to. An experienced lawyer at LA Century Law will know how to maximize your settlement by considering all of the above-mentioned factors. If you have any questions about your case or want to discuss your options, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Settlements
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
The amount of time it takes to settle a personal injury claim varies depending on the circumstances of the case. Some claims can be settled relatively quickly, while others may take months or even years to resolve.
What are the most important things about settling a personal injury claim?
Never accept the first offer from the insurance company. You should also be aware of your state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This is the deadline for filing a lawsuit, and if you miss it, you will be unable to recover any compensation for your losses.