Evaluating the “value” of your case is difficult, especially when you are the one suffering every day with the pain and financial struggles of your injuries. While there are injury claims that are worth millions, not all cases get that much of a settlement. Instead, it comes down to key factors.
Most people assume that, if they have an injury case, they must also have a case worth millions. While it is true that you could potentially receive millions in an injury case, this is reserved for those extreme cases where there are catastrophic injuries, death, or even punitive damages involved. Most injury claims with minor to moderate injuries are not going to see millions in compensation.
High injury settlements tend to get the most media coverage, which is one reason people assume that injury cases always result in high payouts. However, injury case settlements are not numbers picked at random. Instead, these settlements are based on the extensiveness of the injuries and how much it will take for that person to recover – if they will ever recover.
Factors That Push Injury Settlements into the Millions
There are certain factors that will increase the chances of a settlement being over $1 million in value. These can include:
One of the most common reasons for higher settlements is punitive damages.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant, not necessarily to compensate the victim. However, the victim still receives the award in punitive damages, and they can use it toward whatever they need. Punitive damages are in addition to compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are those that include lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical costs, pain, suffering, and future losses.
Depending on the severe negligence or intent in the case, punitive damages can double compensatory damages. However, most states have caps on damages, and they may not allow the jury to award an outrageous amount of punitive damages. Instead, the actions of the defendant, combined with the compensatory amount, dictate how much is “reasonable” in these instances.
Loss of Life or Extreme Disability
When a person dies prematurely because of a serious injury, the settlement might increase into the millions. For example, a father supporting his family is killed by a drunk driver in a car accident. The mother has no job or source of income, as she has stayed home to raise the kids. Now, the children and wife are left without the financial and emotional support of their loved one who has passed away. Combined with the costs of the accident, such as any medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, plus the lost wages and financial contributions, the settlement can be quite extensive.
Likewise, if an otherwise healthy person becomes permanently disabled and can no longer work, has years of painful surgeries or medical treatments in their future, and their quality of life has been permanently altered, they may see a higher settlement. For example, those who are permanently paralyzed after a serious accident may have a higher settlement, because they have zero chance of recovering to the state they were before their accident.
Injuries from Defective Products
If a company knowingly distributes a defective product, they may end up paying more for a lawsuit than if they were unaware of the defects and the risk they posed to the public. Take the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit, for example. The only reason that the plaintiff received $2.7 million in punitive damages was because McDonald’s knew that their coffee was too hot, and that their lids were inadequate for keeping coffee inside the cup. In fact, they received 700 complaints about the temperature of their coffee. They ignored this and continued to serve it at a higher temperature. Therefore, when a woman was injured, they were not just at-fault, they were negligent for not removing the harmful product – one they knew was a serious risk for burn injuries.
Higher Medical Costs
Some injuries result in higher medical costs, especially those involving the brain or spinal cord or those that require reconstructive surgery. For example, burn injuries will have much higher medical costs, which means the plaintiff will receive more compensation to cover their current medical treatments and any future treatments as part of their care plan.
Any time specialized procedures are required, these will increase the value of a settlement, just because they have a higher cost to the patient.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
Attorneys hear this question all the time, but the answer is not as simple as pulling out a calculator and telling you right away how much you can get.
Instead, it requires a trained eye to review the details of your case. Also, the type of injury case you have does play a role in how much you will receive. Product liability claims might pay higher than a minor slip and fall. Also, if you can recover from your injuries at some point, you are not going to receive as much as a person who is permanently disabled because of their injuries.
The only way to truly know how much your case is worth is to speak with an attorney. A skilled accident attorney will review the facts, your costs, look at projections, and also consider the evidence. The stronger the case against the defendant, the easier it is for your attorney to seek maximum compensation.
If you or a loved one was injured in a serious accident, contact an injury advocate for a free case evaluation. During your consultation, the team at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A., will discuss your injury, costs, and see how much compensation you might be entitled to. Remember, we can only provide an estimate, and these numbers may change after we begin investigating further and negotiating with the insurance company.
To get started, call us today or request more information online.