The resolution of many personal injury cases is the settlement, which compensates the injured party for his or her expenses and losses that result from the injury. The process can seem confusing and stressful, but there are a few basic things you need to know before you settle.
1. Do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
No, you do not have to file a lawsuit after a personal injury. In fact, the majority of people who suffer personal injuries do not file lawsuits. Between 95% and 96% of personal injury cases never make it to court and are settled otherwise. Many insurance companies and liable parties would prefer to settle injuries out of court to avoid additional fees and expenses.
2. What is covered in a personal injury settlement?
A personal injury settlement is going to cover a number of different things. These cover expenses and losses at the time of the injury and those that will be incurred in the future as a result of it. These include things like medical bills, lost wages, loss of ability to work, and pain and suffering. In some cases, the spouse of the injured party is awarded a portion of the settlement for loss of consortium.
3. Do I need a lawyer if I’m not going to court?
It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer in any case — whether it’s going to court or not. In cases that do go to court, plaintiffs only win about 50% of the time. In cases where the parties choose to settle injuries out of court, it’s best to have a lawyer because he or she will have an idea of precedents in cases like yours and experience negotiating with insurance companies.
4. How much will my settlement be worth?
The amount a personal injury settlement is worth really depends on the individual case, but some areas of personal injury do see higher median damage awards than others. Medical malpractice has the highest, at $600,000, and product liability has the second-highest at $300,000. The amount you receive will depend on the expenses and costs to you, as well as your level of liability in the case.
Before beginning negotiations for a personal injury settlement, it’s important to prepare any and all evidence you’ve gathered since the accident, including paperwork, medical records, and whatever proof you may have of the expenses and losses you’ve suffered as a result of the injury.