Estimating the value of your personal injury settlement
When you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, it’s essential to understand how much your case may be worth because expenses rack up quickly after an accident. As tempting as it might be to rely solely on an online settlement calculator, this method only provides a general estimate and doesn’t factor in many of the critical details necessary to determine a realistic value of your personal injury case.
Depending on your injuries, you may be unable to return to work, or you may require ongoing medical care and rehabilitation. Determining your anticipated future expenses in addition to the expenses that you’ve already incurred is vital in any personal injury lawsuit. If you accept a settlement offer without understanding the full extent of your future financial needs, you may find yourself unable to pay your bills or get the medical care you need.
Because there are so many factors that must be considered when determining the worth of any personal injury case, it’s strongly recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney to help you understand what your case may be worth.
What factors are considered when calculating a personal injury award?
There are a number of factors that need to be considered when determining the potential value of your personal injury case. These factors will depend on the financial damages you incurred (and will continue to incur as you recover) and may also include pain and suffering and punitive damages.
Below are some of the factors that a South Carolina personal injury attorney may consider when calculating the potential value of your case.
Economic damages are meant to compensate you for the financial losses you incurred (or will incur) from your accident. They include expenses such as:
- Medical costs (past and future). Even if you have health insurance, medical costs tend to add up quickly, and (depending on the extent of your injuries), you may require long-term care or even experience a permanent disability.
Economic damages for medical costs should include compensation for past and future medication costs, doctor visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, assistive devices and even modifications to your home if your injury impacts your mobility.
- Lost income. Paying your expenses when you’re unable to work is extremely difficult, and your savings can be depleted before you know it. The economic damages you may be entitled to for lost income will depend on a number of factors, including your income prior to the accident and your ability to work after the accident.
- Property damage. If your injuries caused physical damage to your property (such as your car), you’re entitled to compensation for that damage.
Although many people think of their financial losses first after an accident, these aren’t the only damages you might incur. Your injury may also involve what are known as intangible losses or non-financial losses that negatively impact your emotional and mental health.
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for these losses, which may include pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages don’t have a specific monetary value that can be easily determined. The worth of these damages is calculated based on the impact the accident has had on your life and the severity of your suffering.
Because these damages are often difficult to quantify, it’s important to document the ways in which your injuries have impacted your life. For example, an injury may leave you unable to enjoy an activity you previously enjoyed. Excessive pain levels or extreme fatigue can impact your ability to work, perform regular household duties and socialize with family and friends. All of these factors should be considered when determining the value of your pain and suffering compensation.
Online settlement calculators cannot accurately estimate pain and suffering damages because there are too many factors at play. However, an experienced personal injury attorney should be able to give you an idea of your potential pain and suffering damages based on your individual circumstances as well as other similar cases.
Keep in mind, however, that any results a lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters do not necessarily indicate that similar results can be obtained for other clients. All cases must be analyzed based on their own specific factual and legal circumstances.
Punitive damages are only given in cases where a defendant’s actions were particularly malicious or intentional. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from exhibiting similar behavior.
Does comparative negligence play a role?
Comparative negligence refers to the South Carolina rule that when a plaintiff is partially responsible for their accident, their damage award should be reduced by their percentage of fault. Your share of any liability must be under 50 percent to have a case against the other party.
For example, let’s say a drunk driver swerves into your lane and hits your car, but you were texting on your phone at the time of the accident. A judge could determine you were 10 percent at fault for the accident because you weren’t paying attention, reducing your settlement award by 10 percent.
When to contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney
A catastrophic injury can affect every aspect of your life, and, sadly, these effects may last a lifetime. If you underestimate the long-term impacts an accident may have on your medical and financial needs, the consequences can be devastating.
Once you accept an offer from the insurance company, you won’t be able to go back later and request further compensation if you find out you need more money to cover your future expenses. That’s why it’s vital to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, especially if you’ve been in an accident that’s caused health issues that have made it difficult to return to work.
If you’ve suffered an injury because of someone else’s negligence, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. are here to help. We’ve dedicated our practice to helping injured clients across the state of South Carolina get the justice and compensation they deserve. We can investigate your case and negotiate with the insurance company to ensure you get maximum compensation so you and your family can feel financially secure.
Contact us today for your free consultation so we can develop an individualized plan for you.