If someone is considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, one of the first questions he or she is likely to ask is about how much the average settlement is. This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer, but knowing what to expect before you jump in is incredibly valuable. Learn what kind of settlement you might expect in your personal injury case.
The idea of receiving a settlement offer can be quite appealing. Instead of having to wait until the trial concludes naturally and then hoping that you won your case, you can simply accept the settlement offer and be done with things. But what is a good settlement offer for a personal injury case?
This question actually cannot be answered. Personal injury lawsuits vary so widely, there is no such thing as a common settlement amount. A better way to think about it is how much a settlement offer will be compared to the amount you might receive if you won the case. In exchange for saving time and legal fees, the settlement is usually slightly lower. This is to be expected and you should not let it disappoint you.
Since a good settlement offer will be slightly lower than the amount you could otherwise win, this raises the question of how much you could expect to win in trial. This amount is the sum of three types of damages:
- Special Compensatory Damages
- General Compensatory Damages
- Punitive Damages
Special compensatory damages are all the financial losses you suffer, such as your medical bills or damage to your property. General compensatory damages are non-financial losses, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. The judge will assign the value of all general compensatory damages. Punitive damages are an amount of money the defendant must pay as punishment for wrongdoing. The judge is also responsible for assigning punitive damages, although they are rare for personal injury cases. You can submit claims for special and general compensatory damages, but you have no control over whether punitive damages will be assigned.So, the amount you would receive at the end of the trial would be the sum of special and general compensatory damages and any potential punitive damages the judge decides to add. And a good settlement offer will be slightly less than this amount. Your attorney can give you a more reliable idea of whether or not a settlement offer is good. Never accept a settlement offer before consulting your attorney.