No one really knows the “average” amount of compensation injured victims receive in a personal injury settlement.
Many different factors are in play that no two cases are exactly alike.
Rather than worry about the “average” amount of money available, you should strive to better understand what factors go into determining how much compensation our clients receive.
Calculate Your Economic Damages
Economic damages are damages you can prove with a bill or a receipt.
For example, many of our clients need medical treatment to deal with their injuries, such as:
- Doctor’s visits
- Transportation to the hospital
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Equipment, such as crutches, wheelchairs, braces, etc.
Injured victims can receive compensation for all of the medical treatment that is related to the personal injury accident. If the injuries are serious, you can receive a payout for future medical care as well. For example, clients who have been paralyzed or suffered a traumatic brain injury might need at-home care for the rest of their lives.
Additionally, loss wages is another form of economic damages. If your injuries have kept you out of work, you can receive money to replace the amounts lost. In addition to past loss wages, you can be compensated for future loss wages. Keep any proof of your income, such as:
- 1099/W-2 forms from employer
- Tax returns
- Other proof of self-employment income
You can also make a claim for loss of earning capacity. This is where you could have made more salary in a different profession if not for the injuries from the accident. For example if you just passed the board exams to become a doctor and received a brain injury from an accident, you may have a claim for loss of earning capacity for years of not being paid like a medical doctor.
Also, you can receive compensation to replace any property damage, such as damage to your car involved in a collision. Further you may recover rental car charges, towing bills, storage costs, and loss of use. Hold onto repair estimates, charges, or bills that show how much it cost to repair or replace the vehicle and anything else related to the vehicle.
Estimate Your Non-Economic Losses
California allows injured victims to receive a sum of money for intangible harms like pain and suffering. These injuries are harder to measure in dollars and cents because there is no receipt or bill attached to them.
However, you can still receive compensation for these harms, such as:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some situations, your spouse might also have a claim for “loss of consortium,” meaning negative changes to your marriage caused by the accident. For example, they might have suffered loss of companionship, sexual intimacy, or services of the household as a result of the accident.
Estimating the amount of non-economic losses is tricky. Clients may receive some multiple of their economic losses in non-economic damages or the cost of the daily loss of enjoyment spread out for the rest of their life.
You can maximize your non-economic damages by carefully documenting your pain and suffering. For example, keep a pain journal where you note the location of pain every day and its intensity. Also explain how the injury has affected your mental health and whether it has prevented you from enjoying your favorite hobbies.
Identify Whether You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident
California law recognizes that victims sometimes contribute to their injuries by being negligent themselves. For example, you might have been reading a text message while driving when another car slammed into you. Or you might not have been paying attention to where you were walking when you tripped over a hazard and injured yourself. A victim’s own negligence is called “contributory negligence” and it can affect the amount of money you receive.
Fortunately, personal injury victims can still pursue settlement or a lawsuit if someone else is at least 1% responsible for the accident. However, your settlement will be reduced by your proportion of fault. For example, your injuries might be worth $100,000, but you were 50% responsible for the accident. In this case, you will only receive $50,000 in compensation. If you were 80% responsible, then you would receive only $20,000.
During settlement negotiations, your lawyer will try to minimize your proportion of fault. The larger percentage you can place on the other party, the greater likelihood the other party will will negotiate. Therefore before your lawyer can advocate effectively, however, he needs to know what you were doing right before the accident, so always be honest with your lawyer.
Analyze the Defendant’s Assets
To receive compensation, the other side must have some assets so that they can pay you. California law states that every driver on the roadways and highways must have automobile liability insurance. Even though another person caused the accident, the insurance company will be the one compensating you for your damages.
If you were injured by a business employee, then you may be able to hold their employer responsible for your injuries. This concept is called “respondeat superior” and it holds companies liable when their employees injure someone in the scope of their employment. Often, suing a business is better than suing an individual because a business has deeper pockets, but everything depends on the circumstances.
If your injuries happened at someone home like from a dog bite, the person’s homeowners policy may contribute to your compensation. A business general liability insurance for may cover you when an accident occurs on the business property like a slip and fall.
If someone without insurance hits you in traffic or does not have a homeowners policy, you might not receive anything in a settlement or judgment, especially if the driver/homeowner has no income, savings, or other assets. Therefore, it is especially important to investigate if the negligent party has insurance.
No lawyer can promise a result, and no two cases are alike. Nevertheless, our results can give you some idea of our commitment to our clients. At the Beliz Law Firm, we have obtained the following awards for our clients:
- A $6 million settlement for a motorcyclist injured in a collision with a work truck
- A $325,000 settlement for the victim of a car accident
- A $300,000 settlement for the victim of a dog attack
- A $100,000 settlement for a motorist injured when they were rear-ended
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Long Beach Today
After suffering a personal injury, you will need an experienced and reputable lawyer to represent your interests. In Long Beach, you will find fewer law firms more qualified than the Beliz Law Firm for aggressively protecting your rights.
Contact us today for your free case evaluation. Avoid delay.