If you’ve been injured in an accident and can prove that your injuries were the fault of negligence by another party or entity, there’s a good chance that you have a valid personal injury claim. Unfortunately, simply having a claim won’t ensure that you receive a sizable settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. The amount of compensation you receive will depend greatly upon the type of injuries you have sustained, and how severe those injuries are.
Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash, cuts, and bruises are worth far less than serious injuries such as broken bones, internal organ damage, or head trauma. If you’ve exclusively suffered soft tissue injuries, it’s likely that the insurance company will only be willing to compensate you for your actual costs – also called economic damages. These costs consist of things like medical bills and lost wages due to having to take time off work while healing. More severe injuries will result in a larger settlement because, in addition to the economic damages you’re entitled to, you are also entitled non-economic damages – those damages such as pain and suffering that do not have a specific value attached to them.
How Pain and Suffering is Calculated
Calculating pain and suffering isn’t an easy or precise process, and it is one best left in the capable hands of an experienced personal injury attorney. Negotiating with the insurance company’s adjusters is also complicated, as they stay in business by paying out as little as possible on their claims, so they will use sneaky tactics and techniques in an attempt to get you to say things that will ultimately result in a lesser payout.
Personal Injury Damages
The legal term for the money you receive as compensation for your injuries, suffering, and inconvenience after an accident is damages. The damages that you incur after an accident can include, but aren’t limited to the following:
- Medical bills related to treatment of the injuries you suffered due to the accident;
- The physical pain, and emotional and mental suffering that was caused by your injuries;
- Lost wages due to being unable to work while your injuries healed;
- A reduction in your future earning capacity, if you are unable to perform your customary job duties due to your injuries;
- Loss of your enjoyment of life;
- Accommodations needed for your home or vehicle due to disabilities caused by your injuries;
- Loss of companionship.
When you are attempting to place a value on your damages, it is imperative that you are realistic. This is one of the areas where a personal injury attorney can be helpful. Experienced personal injury attorneys, such as those here at The Sevey Law Firm, will be able to give you an accurate assessment of what you can expect to receive as a settlement. This is important for several reasons:
- You will have a realistic view of the damages you can expect to receive;
- You will not be tempted to settle for less than you deserve from the insurance company; and
- You will be able to request a fair amount in your demand letter and subsequent settlement negotiations.
You can waste a lot of time and energy in trying to fight the insurance company in order to have them pay out an inflated amount as compensation. They simply will not do that, no matter what you’ve read, or heard from friends. In fact, unrealistically overvaluing your claim will only serve to make you seem less than legitimate. It pays to have a realistic dollar amount in mind when going into negotiations with the insurance company…a dollar amount that is backed up by facts.
One of the best ways to attempt to get a sense of the value of your injuries is to categorize them into soft tissue injuries and serious injuries.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury is one that involved injuries to tendons, ligaments, and muscles including cuts, abrasions, and bruises. Also included in this category are minor burns, sprains or strains, and herniated disks that don’t require surgery to heal. Even though these injuries are considered not as serious, they can often be incredibly painful, such as in the case of a herniated disk that is impinging on nerves.
The level and amount of pain you’ve suffered due to soft tissue injuries, as well as the evidence you have to support your claims, will determine the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. The more you can prove via medical statements and doctor’s reports, the higher your settlement amount is likely to be. Realistically, you shouldn’t expect to receive more than three times the amount of your actual damages if you’ve suffered only soft tissue injuries.
Serious injuries can include internal organ damage, severe burns or cuts, broken bones, permanent scarring or disfigurement, traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal damage, or any injuries requiring an extended hospital stay or surgery. These types of injuries are much more likely to result in a large settlement from the insurance company.
In cases with serious injuries, you may be able to request up to five times the amount of your actual damages. Still, even though these injuries, and the change to your life because of these injuries, may be severe, you will still need to prove to the insurance adjuster that your settlement request is warranted. You may use police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and letters, statements from doctors and mental health care providers, and pay stubs showing lost wages. You can also keep a journal in which you document your pain levels, how your injuries have negatively affected your life, and the processes you’re involved in to obtain treatment.
Your Personal Injury Case is Unique
At The Sevey Law Firm, we know that your personal injury claim is not like anyone else’s. No two are ever alike. We have extensive experience dealing with all kinds of personal injury cases, and we can help you settle your case to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We invite you to come in for a free consultation. You can reach us by phone at (916) 788-7100 or through our online contact page.