Getting injured because of someone’s negligence can throw your life into havoc. Suddenly, you can’t work, you’re in pain, and you have a pile of medical bills and an uncertain future.
If another party caused the accident, every U.S. state has laws allowing you to file a claim for personal injury compensation to help secure the money needed to recover. That said, you’ll need a personal injury attorney like the ones at Nix Patterson to help you navigate this complex world.
Whether you were injured in a car accident, truck accident, workplace mishap, or any other kind of incident, the amount you can anticipate receiving will depend on many factors. Remember, as an accident victim, you and your lawyer must establish that the defendant acted in a way that caused your damages.
Many minor accident injury settlements range between a few thousand and $10,000. But the settlement could reach six figures for more severe injuries where a long recovery and surgery are needed.
If you have a case, a personal injury attorney is experienced with many types of personal injury cases and can review your situation and accident and provide a ballpark figure about a possible settlement. Also, if you lost a loved one in an accident because of someone’s wrongful action or negligence, you should speak to our attorneys about a wrongful death settlement.
There are two significant kinds of compensation in personal injury settlements:
You can add up economic damages by looking at receipts, pay stubs, medical bills, etc. These damages usually include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost earnings, and other out-of-pocket costs, such as prescription co-pays. You also may be entitled to loss of ability to earn a living if you have severe injuries.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation that cannot be easily added to a calculator. The most common form of non-economic damages is pain and suffering. If you break your arm and leg in a slip-and-fall, how much is your pain and suffering worth?
What the insurance company says and what you say are probably different. The insurance company may use a multiplier method to gauge your level of pain and suffering, which multiples your economic damages by a number from 1-5. Your personal injury lawyer may rely on past pain and suffering payouts for similar injuries to argue for more compensation.
Most personal injury settlements are either lump-sum payments or structured settlements. However, you will not get your settlement immediately after you agree to the terms. There are several steps and processes involved that affect how much money you get and when.
A release must be signed once you and your attorney agree with the defendant’s insurance company about a settlement. Next, you and your attorney will review the settlement terms, which detail the payment and other parties who may be entitled to a share. Once you sign the release, the defendant’s insurance company will send a settlement check to your attorney’s law firm. Depending on the state, settlement funds must be disbursed within certain days.
When the lawyer receives the check, they will pay your medical providers and anyone else whose debts are owed on the case. Your attorney may try to get the medical providers to accept a lower amount for their services. Any other legal fees that were charged, such as court costs, also will be deducted. Once everything is paid, your attorney will deduct their contingency fee and prepare to send you the balance. This may be done in two ways:
A lump-sum personal injury settlement means disbursing all funds at one time. If this is your choice, it will be issued to your lawyer within a few days. You can pick up the check or have it mailed to you. Many people with smaller settlements usually elect to take a lump sum payment.
A structured settlement offers payments over a set schedule. In many structured settlements, you can select when the payments start and end and how often. This is usually a preferred choice because it provides the plaintiff with a steady income over the years. You also could receive a smaller lump sum settlement, with the rest paid out over time. If the personal injury case involves minors, installment payments may be provided at first, then a large lump sum when they are adults.
Some injured parties are leery of hiring a personal injury attorney because of the legal fees. We all know that harsh, experienced litigators get paid well, so how can an injured person afford it?
Most personal injury attorneys don’t charge upfront legal fees. Instead, they are paid a contingency fee at the end of the case. A contingency fee is a percentage of your personal injury settlement or verdict award. Contingency fees are usually only allowed in civil litigation, and the contingency fee agreement must be in writing and signed before your lawyer renders service.
Contingency fees are assessed as a percentage of the amount recovered through a settlement or award. The contingency fee varies by attorney and type of case, but it often ranges between 30% and 40%. The fee could be less if the case were settled faster or more if a full court case was necessary with a jury verdict. Generally, the longer the case takes, the higher the fee.
Suppose your attorney’s contingency fee agreement states that their fee is 33% if a settlement is agreed to before a lawsuit is filed and 40% if the matter goes to trial and there is a favorable jury verdict. Settlement talks fail, and you receive a verdict award of $40,000. In this hypothetical case, the legal fees would be $16,000, and you would receive $24,000 after deducting legal fees.
This may sound like a big chunk of your compensation, but remember that an attorney’s skills and knowledge usually result in injured clients getting more money than they would otherwise. Whatever your attorney’s contingency arrangement, ensure you have it in writing from the first day and understand how they are compensated.
A personal injury settlement can be invaluable in helping you get back on your feet physically, emotionally, and financially. By understanding how personal injury settlements work, you have a better chance of getting the money you need for your and your family’s future.
You can count on the Nix Patterson personal injury attorneys to fight for the most compensation to safeguard your rights against big insurance companies trying to short-change you with a small settlement. Contact our office today for a complimentary personal injury case review.
Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below.
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