You may have seen those commercials for personal injury attorneys and thought they sounded like money-grubbing opportunists. Then, one day, someone’s negligence injures you in a severe and long-lasting way.
Suddenly you realize everything a victim loses in these situations and why it’s so essential for the guilty party to pay.
A personal injury settlement is an attempt to make up for what you’ve lost because of someone else’s choices. There are a lot of variables that go into your settlement, though, and these are the top ones you need to consider.
1. How Your Injury Occurred
When you start working on your personal injury case, the first thing your attorney will ask you is, “what happened?”
The events leading up to your injury are crucial. How much of the problem was the defendant responsible for? How much of the problem was a circumstance outside of their control, or did you contribute at all?
For example, let’s say you are injured in a car accident. It makes a big difference whether the driver hit you because they were on their phone or because the road was icy. In a personal injury case, you need to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions caused your injury.
2. Your Injuries and Their Consequences
Because a personal injury settlement is meant to compensate for your injuries, your injuries themselves will impact your case.
The more serious your injury is, the more you will receive for pain and suffering. However, the most significant factor is the financial losses from your injury.
Your settlement should cover all your medical expenses as well as future expenses. If you need continued medical care, your lawyer will factor that into the settlement negotiations.
Also, your case depends on how your injuries will impact your life. They might end or lower your earning potential or impact your relationships with loved ones. All of this will affect your personal injury settlement.
3. The Type of Claim You Have
The term “personal injury” is a general term. There are many settlement types within that category.
For instance, a workers’ compensation claim against your employer is different from a slip and fall case against a store owner. A skilled personal injury attorney needs to handle each type of claim differently to give you the best success.
4. Your Credibility
As with any court case, your personal injury case isn’t just about what happened. It’s about what you can prove and what a jury will believe.
It’s challenging to win a case based on self-reported claims alone. Your attorney will need evidence to back up your story. That could include police reports, witness statements, video evidence, and more.
Background information makes a difference in your credibility, too. Do you have a history of filing illegitimate lawsuits or a history as a reliable, honest person? The more confident a jury is in you, the more money they will be comfortable with awarding to you.
5. What Preventative Steps the Defendant Took
One of the critical elements of a personal injury case is showing that the defendant was negligent or wrong in their actions, causing your injury. The more “wrong” the defendant’s actions were, the more money you’re likely to receive.
For example, let’s say you slipped on a spill at a store and fell. Did any store employees know the spill was there, or did they cause the spill? Did they try to mop it up, put out warning signs, or block the area?
6. Your Actions After the Injury
One of the most important things you can do after an injury occurs is to get medical attention. This is even true if you don’t think you are badly hurt.
Let’s say you get hurt in a car accident but don’t go to the doctor until a week later. The defendant can claim you injured yourself in another way sometime within that week, and that you’re trying to blame it on the accident to get a settlement.
In some cases, waiting to get medical help will make your injuries worse. This could hurt your case, too, because the defendant can claim that you are partly responsible for how serious your injuries are.
7. Your Patience
When you are injured, you have bills piling up, especially if you can’t work as much as you used to. It’s tempting to take the first settlement offer that comes along because you want to take your check and move on.
Remember that a settlement is a negotiation. The defendant is going to offer less than they believe they should pay because it leaves room for them to negotiate.
Your lawyer knows that the settlement amount is reasonable. Sit back, be patient with the process, and let them advocate for you and guide you through it.
8. Your Personal Injury Attorney
There are a lot of factors that impact your personal injury case, but your attorney is one of the most critical.
It takes skill and experience to know what type of evidence and research to seek out, and to understand how to present your case. It takes a keen negotiator to get you the best possible settlement.
Your lawyer’s reputation within the court system will make a difference, as well. Throughout your case, you may need to rely on a judge’s decisions about what evidence you can and can’t present.
If judges see your lawyer as a respectable, they’ll take your case’s motions and petitions more seriously.
Making the Most of Your Personal Injury Settlement
Money doesn’t heal your wounds. It doesn’t take away chronic pain or give you back the career that made you fulfilled. In most cases, though, it’s the only recourse we have: to give you enough money to make your life a bit easier.
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