As an experienced medical review service provider for personal injury attorneys, we know that personal injury cases are unique, but there may be some common factors that have an impact on the final settlement amount a plaintiff can get for his/her injury, disability, and consequent pain and suffering. While medical records services can extract the valuable medical evidence from the plaintiff’s medical records, to handle negotiations successfully and obtain the best compensation amount for their clients, attorneys have to clearly understand the factors that could affect the value of personal injury cases. A clear awareness of the settlement value also helps lawyers avoid unnecessary hassle and develop the best arguments for their clients.
So, what are the main factors that could affect the value of personal injury settlement amount?
- How serious is the injury?: Permanent injuries such as brain trauma, and those that result in reduced mobility or deformity typically receive larger settlements. Permanent injuries or hard injuries such as spinal cord damage, broken bones, joint injury, nerve damage, vertebrae injury and so on cause increased pain and suffering and deserve better compensation. Soft tissue injuries such as sprain, bruising, or strain will bring lesser settlement amount.
- Reasonable and necessary medical costs: Insurance companies will pay for “reasonable and necessary” medical treatments. Higher medical costs will typically lead to higher settlement amounts, provided the medical costs are reasonable. However, insurance companies will be constantly watching out for exaggerated injury claims. If they expect some foul play, they will arrange for an independent medical exam by one of their own doctors.
- Medical treatments and recovery period: If the medical treatment involves doctors and hospitals rather than physician assistants or chiropractors, or reconstructive surgery, you can expect larger settlement amounts. Also, if the recovery period is longer and the injured person needs more follow-up appointments and medications, the settlement value may be higher.
- Pain and suffering of the victim: This would be more challenging to prove, especially when it comes to proving emotional/mental trauma, anxiety and depression. Typically, this requires testimony from credible mental health professionals regarding the accident’s psychological consequences on the victim.
- Liability of the defendant: The settlement amount is likely to be high if there is proof that the defendant is clearly liable for the injury. Personal injury attorneys strive to produce reliable witnesses and also pertinent evidence to make a strong case for their clients. In a no-fault insurance state, the injured person doesn’t have to prove who caused the accident in the case of most claims. He/she can negotiate with his/her own insurance company to settle the injury claim under their PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage. If a claim is brought against the defendant’s insurance company, the attorney representing the plaintiff will have to prove the liability of the defendant. For this, it needs to be proved that the defendant had a duty of care to avoid causing injury to others; committed a wrong action or failed to do something that a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances, which amounts to negligence; and also that the plaintiff’s injury was directly caused by the defendant’s negligence.
- How the injury is likely to impact the injured victim: If the injury causes significant disruption in your client’s life, the settlement could be a larger one. Injuries that prevent your client from traveling, doing routine work, or playing sports, performing activities such as standing or walking and so on could attract a larger settlement amount.
- The accident venue: When deciding the settlement amount, insurance adjusters give importance to the accident venue. The venue is the place where the injury claim will go to trial in case a lawsuit is filed by the victim. Certain locations are found to be more favorable to victims than to insurers, and an insurance adjuster may offer more settlement money to prevent the injured victim from filing a case that may turn out to be favorable to the victim and receive large awards.
- Litigation costs: Costs related to litigation could be higher for defendants when there are a number of defendants, and many contested technical questions. In such instances, the defendant may agree to a higher settlement amount. However, if the plaintiff cannot afford to contest such complex cases, the defendant side may reduce the settlement value.
Evidence that will prove valuable include the injured person’s medical records and medical bills; police reports, if any; photos and videos; wage statements and witness statements; and the plaintiff’s notes about the injury and recovery.
Important factors such as the above affect the final settlement amount an injured party can get from a defendant. Given the importance of medical records and the evidence they contain, personal injury attorneys hire medical record review services to obtain the required reliable medical proof. The settlement value will be more when there is strong evidence and injured persons prefer to have an attorney represent them because the attorney will use the evidence to prove that the defendant was at fault for the injury caused, the injuries are severe, and that there is significant pain, suffering, and physical as well as mental trauma involved.
Disclaimer: The content in the above blog is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to be professional legal opinion. It has been sourced from reliable online resources. For a professional legal opinion, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.