What Factors Determine The Value Of A Personal Injury Settlement?
Many factors determine the value of a personal injury settlement. There is no cookie-cutter formula because every case is unique, and injuries affect people in different ways. The nature of the claimant’s injuries is the biggest factor that will dictate the value of the settlement. While one person might have an uncomfortable neck injury that resolves after two weeks, another person might suffer paralysis from a similar accident. Clearly, the settlement values of these cases would be very different.
Preexisting injuries can also factor into the value of the settlement. For example, if a claimant had a prior surgery on their lower back and is saying that their lower back is hurting from the accident, then the insurance company will argue that the injury is not new, but existed prior to the accident. Based on this argument, the insurance company may deny the claim altogether, or admit that the preexisting injury was aggravated by the accident, but provide the claimant with a significantly reduced settlement offer.
The amount of time the claimant had to take off work and their lost wages will also determine the value of a personal injury settlement. Someone who misses five days of work and makes $100 a day would only possibly receive $500 for lost wages, whereas someone who misses five days of work and makes $1,000 a day would receive $5,000 for lost wages. If, as a result of the accident, the claimant is no longer able to continue doing the same or similar type of work, then that will also affect their lost wages and lost future earning capacity. This could even lead to the need for disability benefits. The idea of the amount of damages is that the amount is supposed to make you whole again or as you were prior to the accident. With some types of damages, like lost wages, this is not that difficult to calculate, but for others, like pain and suffering, there is no magic formula out there.
The age of the claimant will impact the value of the settlement, because mortality tables are used in personal injury cases. Mortality tables compilate data and are used to show how long a person is expected to live based on their current age, gender, race, and a number of other factors. If it is determined that someone has 30 years left to live and it’s expected that they are going to have $1,000 a year in future medical expenses, then that would potentially add $30,000 to the value of their settlement. On the other hand, a person who is determined to have two years left to live and has the same amount of future medical expenses would only potentially have $2,000 added to the value of their settlement. Age can make a big difference in terms of lifestyle as well. For example, a younger person may become unable to do a variety of things that they otherwise would be able to do such as travel the world or play a professional sport. An older person might no longer be able to pick up their grandkids or care for their spouse, and therefore may need to hire someone to help.
Medical bills will have a clear impact on the value of a settlement because they are quantifiable. If someone has $100,000 in medical bills, then their settlement amount will be much greater than someone who only has $1,000 in medical bills. The same is true when it comes to future medical bills. A costly surgery in the future will obviously increase the value of the claim. Certain health care providers will provide for a discounted contract, which could reduce past medical bills and have an impact on future medical bills, or at least that is what the insurance company would say.
How the person recovers will also factor into the settlement determination. Recovery rates differ from person to person. Younger people tend to recover quicker than older people, but that is not always the case, and some people do not recover at all. Some plaintiffs are referred to as eggshell plaintiffs, which means it does take much for them to get injured because they were very delicate prior to the accident. A 6’4”, 250-pound person who is strong and in shape is going to have a better resistance to injury than a 90-year-old frail woman who just finished a cancer treatment. Since the plaintiff is taken just as they were found by the defendant, this can impact the value of the claim.
The type of treatment that is necessary will either increase or decrease the value of a settlement. For example, if a surgery is necessary, it may lead to debilitation and pain for a period of time afterward, which could increase the amount of pain and suffering damages. Second surgeries or surgeries involving an implant, such as a spinal stimulator, could lead to restricted range of motion, which would also be compensable.
The amount of coverage available will dictate how much the claimant can recover, regardless of how much their case is worth. This can be a very big deal in Florida, because it is legal to drive without bodily injury coverage. If there is no coverage, the claim could end of being worth zero dollars, even if the claimant was seriously injured.
For more information on Value Of A Personal Injury Settlement In FL, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 490-8712 today.
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