Accidents and mishaps can be said to be a fairly commonplace occurrence. Almost all of us have been affected by some form of accidents at some point of our lives or the other. Needless to say, all the forms of accidents are accompanied by varying degrees of trauma. However, there are certain instances that need legal attention and the injury in question might have a serious impact on our lifestyle. It is at times such as these that one might need to file a personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Claim & When Should it be Filed?
Simply defined, a personal injury case is a legal dispute that arises when a person is a victim of an injury of a personal kind for which somebody else is legally responsible. When the concerned victim demands for a certain amount of money as means of compensation for the injury suffered on account of another person, then this claim is referred to personal injury claim.
A personal injury claim can be of various types- arising from road accidents, assaults, medical negligence, and damage due to the use of faulty products, industrial disease claims and the like. Road accidents account for a majority of the personal injury lawsuits filed every year followed by the ones arising out of injuries related to work and finally assaults. Personal injury claims due to medical negligence and faulty products make towards the end of the list.
It is important to file the personal injury lawsuit within the deadline so as to claim compensation for the damage. It is also important to fully comprehend the nature and extent of the damage caused so that the amount of compensation can be determined. The time line fixed for filing such lawsuits is referred to as statute of limitations and will be present in all the states of USA. This time limit, however, varies according to the nature and extent of the personal injury suffered.
How Much is the Average Personal Injury Claim Worth?
It is not possible to give an average estimate of personal injury settlement cases simply because of the various kinds of personal injury claims and the unique nature of each case. However, it is prudent to calculate the reasonable amount of money one would claim in order to give the legal suit. There are quite a number of factors that go into the calculation of the worth of the personal injury claim, including-
- Medical Expenses: This is likely to include all the amount of money spent on medications, therapies, hospitals and the like. The total amount of money in all the relevant medical bills will be considered here.
- Property Damage: This is generally relevant in case of automotive damage. Personal injury claims of other variations generally leave this section blank. However, there might be exceptions.
- Lost Earnings: This section includes calculating the amount of money that a person loses as wages due to the injury.
- Rehabilitation Costs: This includes the amount of money that the victim has to spend in order to get back to regular life.
- Estimated Future Medical Expenses: This section includes the amount of money the injured person might have to spend in the future on medical expenses arising out of the present condition.
- Lost Income in the Future: The estimated wages that one could probably lose in the future due to the inability to work because of the present condition is taken into account in this section.
Along with the aforementioned special damage factors, general damages including physical and emotional trauma, disruption in the daily lifestyle, stress, recklessness and the like are also taken into account. However, these factors cannot be defined in terms of a fixed currency figures and are therefore, converted into a multiplier by the courts and insurance companies. The extent of the general damage caused determines the value of the multiplier which can be anywhere between 1.5 and 5. The compensation formula, thus, taken into account by the relevant authorities can be written as-
Special damages (in U.S dollars) × General damages (in U.S dollars) = Total amount of compensation (in U.S dollars)
However, it is important to remember that each personal injury settlement claim is different from the other. Hence, it is important to calculate the total amount after considering all the factors unique to the case concerned.
What are the Factors on Which the Personal Injury Claim Depend Upon?
The amount of money that a person can receive as means of personal injury claim depends on three chief factors such as – the assets of the defendant, the damages caused and the liability of the plaintiff.
- The Assets of the Defendant: This is perhaps one of the most important factors that come into play when deciding upon the amount of money to be claimed as compensation. The court of law may sell the property of the defendant or pay the plaintiff or the victim using the wages of the defendant. However, there is a limitation on the amount of money that can be extracted in this manner. It is important to take into account the amount of money, moveable and immovable property the defendant has before the victim can make a personal injury claim. It will not be possible to meet the amount of the claim, however correct it may be, if the defendant in question does not have money to pay for it.
- The Damages Suffered: The amount of damage suffered by the plaintiff is another important factor that needs to be taken into account before filing personal injury claim. Here, factors such as, medical expenses, lost income, the physical and emotional trauma, future medical expenses and the like are all taken into account. The extent of the damage suffered along with the future implications becomes important here. In many of the cases, the money needed to pay for concrete damages, that is, the medical expenses and lost wages is not as much as the general damage calculated in the form of trauma, stress, disrupted lifestyle and the like.
- Liability: The liability of the defendant in the whole affair is the final chief factor that is taken into consideration. There has to be concrete evidence to show the defendant's responsibility in the act. In certain cases, the defendants were found to be liable while in certain other cases, their involvement was questionable. It is, therefore, important to have clear-cut evidence of the defendant's involvement before filing for personal injury claim.
Reaching Personal Injury Settlements
A settlement is said to be attained in cases of personal injury claims when the plaintiff agrees to drop the legal case in return for his/her damages suffered by the defendant. In a majority of the situations, this compensation is agreed upon even before the filing of the lawsuit simply to escape the legal hassles of the court. The amount that the defendant agrees to pay as compensation is agreed upon after taking into account the views of both parties. Once both parties decide upon an amount, they are likely to negotiate the terms of the settlement before the plaintiff can receive the personal injury claim. The lawsuit is dropped by the plaintiff once a settlement is agreed upon.
A large number of personal injury lawsuits are filed every year in the USA- almost at the rate of one lawsuit every two seconds. Multiple instances have been found when the personal injury claim made by the plaintiff has been found to be difficult to be established. However, this problem can be resolved by filing the claim within the fixed deadline and after taking into account all the associated factors.