When a person becomes injured because of someone else’s negligence, there are generally two ways of collecting compensation for the damages sustained: Being offered and accepting a personal injury settlement or going through the civil lawsuit process. Although moving ahead with a civil lawsuit may seem like a great idea because it could lead to more money than one may receive in a settlement, the majority of personal injury cases are settled even before the lawsuit is filed, and usually long before trial.
The Plaintiff and the Defendant in a Personal Injury Case
Once the injured person files a personal injury claim, he or she is the ‘plaintiff,’ and the person or company that the claim is filed against is the ‘defendant.’
What is a Settlement?
A settlement is an offer of payment that is made by an insurance adjuster or the person, or the company that the plaintiff is suing. If the plaintiff decides to accept the settlement amount from the defendant, the plaintiff is waiving the right to continue with the personal injury claim filed against the person or company, that the individual believes is responsible for causing his or her injuries. The settlement is the total amount of compensation the plaintiff receives for the injuries sustained.
When is a Settlement Usually Offered?
A settlement can be offered to the plaintiff before the lawsuit is filed, but after the potential claim against the person or company arises. The defendant may offer a settlement amount after the case is filed and even once the trial begins, which is acceptable, as long as there has not been a final verdict yet.
Sometimes a settlement amount is reached while the jury is still in the middle of deliberating the case. These instances occur when one or both parties decide that, instead of leaving their fate up to the jury, they would prefer a sure thing.
What Happens Once the Agreement is Reached?
After an agreement is reached, the plaintiff signs a full-liability release for the defendant. This release relinquishes all potential claims arising from the underlying incident/accident; thus, preventing any future claims against the defendant for the injuries sustained. For instance, in a car crash case, the insurance adjuster may offer a $60,000 settlement to the plaintiff; however, to receive the money, the plaintiff must agree not to file a lawsuit or seek any other kind of legal remedy. Is accepting this settlement from the insurance adjuster a good idea? What is the plaintiff’s case worth? To determine how much a personal injury case is worth, several factors are taken into consideration.
Understanding Pain and Suffering
The amount of settlement money for pain and suffering is based on the plaintiff’s proficiency in proving the defendant is liable for the injuries sustained as well as for the amount of damages. For example, if an individual has accumulated $150,000 in medical bills, but he or she is unable to prove that the defendant is legally responsible for the injuries, damage amounts will be affected.
Pain and suffering may include:
- Physical pain.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Emotional distress.
- Difficulty sleeping/insomnia.
- Physical aches.
High Dollar Personal Injury Calculations:
- Permanent injuries and/or persistent pain — refers to permanent physical injuries like paralysis, a loss of limb, scarring, herniated discs and long-term pain due to complex wounds, chronic injuries and/or invasive treatments.
- Extreme mental anguish — intense mental anguish due to the incident/accident or the injuries it caused can lead to a higher compensation amount; however, to prove this, care should be sought from a mental health professional.
- Shocking event injuries — these events include plane crashes, shootings or being trapped inside a burning car after an accident. All of these can lead to higher general damage calculations.
Calculating a Personal Injury Case in New Hampshire
Medical expenses — all the plaintiff’s medical expenses are included in this total, even those that were not paid out-of-pocket. If the plaintiff neglected to seek treatment, but still suffers with pain, the daily rate method will be used to calculate this amount.
Future medical expenses — if the injuries sustained are chronic and will need ongoing treatment, those costs need to be estimated and included in the case.
Lost earnings — if the plaintiff missed days of work because of the injuries sustained, the amount of lost income can be recovered. Even the days that the plaintiff used his or her time-off benefits (e.g., PTO, vacation days, etc.) to continue receiving pay, should be included in this total. Consider that if the plaintiff had not sustained injuries, he or she could have taken that time off for a vacation.
Future lost income — should the plaintiff be missing work because of ongoing treatment or due to an inability to work while recovering, those estimated earnings must be estimated and included in the suit.
Property damage — typically used for car accidents. The cost to fix the car or, if the car is totaled, replace the car is determined and then added to the personal injury case amount.
Multiplier for general damages — the general damages’ multiplier is used to estimate the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. The more serious, painful and long-lasting the injuries, the higher the multiplier.
If you reside in New Hampshire and you have been injured by no fault of your own, contact Patch & FitzGerald today at 603-647-2600 to schedule your free case evaluation. Let our experienced, dedicated and compassionate attorneys represent you and keep your best interests in mind as you seek compensation for your damages. Our office is located at 500 North Commercial Street, Suite #403A, Manchester, New Hampshire.