Published in Personal Injury on September 23, 2021.
When pursuing a personal injury claim, many victims try to estimate the potential settlement amount of their case.
Since every case is unique, it can be challenging to find an accurate calculation on your own.
At Eskew Law, our personal injury attorneys can help identify the different aspects of your case that may affect your settlement.
Factors Affecting Average Personal Injury Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
To estimate the final amount of your settlement, there are several factors to take into consideration.
Ultimately, the amount of your settlement depends on three things: the damages you incurred, your recovery expenses, and your share of fault.
In Indiana, victims may seek economic, noneconomic, and, in rare instances, punitive damages.
Economic damages include anything quantifiable as a dollar amount. This includes things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.
For example, if the hospital charges you for your emergency room visit and follow-up treatments, you may include it as an economic damage in your claim.
Noneconomic damages are less tangible losses that are difficult to quantify. This includes any pain and suffering you experience as a result of your injury. It is important to retain an experienced attorney to help you determine fair and appropriate compensation for your non-economic damages.
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are meant to punish the defendant in cases of wanton or willful misconduct. In most cases, it is up to the jury to award punitive damages.
If punitive damages are awarded, 25% of the punitive damages awarded are paid to the person to whom punitive damages were awarded and the remaining 75% of the punitive damages go to the violent crime victims’ compensation fund.
According to IC 34-51-2-6, Indiana follows a modified comparative fault doctrine. In Indiana, this means that the claimant is entitled to damages only if their percentage of fault is 50% or less. Consider this example:
Emma is driving down a residential street and comes to a four-way stop sign. Instead of making a complete stop, Emma makes a rolling stop. When she enters the intersection, another vehicle, driven by John, runs the stop sign and T-bones her car. Emma suffers a broken arm and decides to sue John for damages. At trial, the jury determines a $10,000 general award of damages and Emma is 20% at fault for the accident since she did a rolling stop. As a result, Emma’s judgment was reduced by 20%, a judgment entered for Emma in the amount of $8,000.
This is just one example of how Indiana’s comparative fault rule may affect average personal injury lawsuit settlement amounts.
Insurance Policy Limits
In a personal injury case, it isn’t always possible to get all the compensation you need from a defendant.
If the defendant doesn’t have the means to pay outside of their insurance company’s policy limits, getting a high settlement may not be possible.
While the court may be able to garnish their wages or sell their assets if you successfully sue them for more than the policy limits, it may not be enough to cover your various expenses.
However, your attorney can help you explore other avenues of recovery, such as your own underinsured motorist policy.
Expenses and Costs
Keep in mind that your settlement is meant to compensate you for the losses you’ve suffered. That means that much of the money you receive will go toward expenses incurred as a result of the injury.
For example, if you don’t have the money to pay for your medical treatment, your insurance company may initially pay for the treatment and then file a medical lien against your settlement or demand reimbursement.
This means that prior to finalizing the settlement, you will need to determine the amount of any lien or reimbursement claim.
Your attorney can help you see that any liens get paid out of your settlement, so you don’t have outstanding medical claims following you around.
The Bottom Line
Since every case is different, it isn’t possible to calculate an average settlement amount that applies to most claimants. A personal injury lawsuit settlement or award is based upon the extent of damages and losses sustained.
Thus, settlements and awards can vary widely based upon the severity of the injury and damages. Generally, the greater the damages, the higher the settlement or award.
Since there are so many factors that affect a potential settlement, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. In many cases, there are several types of damages available to you that you may not be aware of.
An attorney can help determine an accurate damage amount based on your expenses and the nature of your injury.
Injured Due to Another Person’s Negligence? Call Us Today
If you suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you don’t have to face it alone. At Eskew Law, we are passionate about helping clients and their families find peace of mind following a serious accident.
If you need help managing your claim or have questions about your case, contact one of our Indianapolis, IN, personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.