After a vehicle accident or slip and fall accident, many people do not know how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement. For accident victims unfamiliar with the personal injury damages process, this can be a challenging dilemma. Asking for too little can leave very much-needed money on the table. Asking for too much can risk outright rejection of a claim. Fortunately, a skilled GA personal injury attorney can help calculate and recover a fair and reasonable amount.
If your injuries are significant or catastrophic, an initial demand for a significant sum will signal the adjuster that your claim is not minor. However, you must have specific and documented evidence of your requested damages, such as medical care for yourself, lost wages for your time away from work. An unreasonable bodily injury claim may lead to claim denial, which will force you to go through the legal system. It is preferable to start with the demand and negotiation process and only go to court if the insurance company is being unreasonable. The vast majority of personal injury cases settle outside of court, before an actual trial.
Time is of the essence to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Georgia, you have a limited period of time to pursue a claim for personal injury or wrongful death. Witness recollections and evidence can disappear in the weeks and months following an accident. Victims are always well-advised to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after obtaining initial medical treatment.
How Are Personal Injury Damages Calculated
Damages are calculated based on the actual cost of your injuries, called economic damages, along with non-economic damages, often called pain and suffering. When another person or company's negligence caused or contributed to an accident, a personal injury victim may seek compensation for:
- Medical care costs, such as your emergency room treatment, hospitalization, and future doctor appointments
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Lost earnings from being unable to work
- Temporary or permanent physical disability
- Physical pain and emotional suffering.
Some damages are easy to calculate, such as medical bills, while others are more subjective. Pain and suffering damages are often determined based on how painful or serious an accident was. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average personal injury settlement for a bodily injury claim in 2019 was $18,417.
Talk to a Lawyer Before You Accept a Settlement
When you report an accident to an insurance company, they may come up with a settlement offer quickly. The adjuster, with an extensive understanding of car accident injuries, will be quick to realize that your injuries are serious. Even without documentation of your care, the insurance company may offer you a quick settlement. For example, a settlement for $20,000 for a broken ankle may seem significant. However, if your injury does not heal and instead you deal with arthritis and chronic pain for years, that $20,000 will do nothing to make you whole.
Questions To Ask Before Accepting A Settlement
After an accident, many people wonder what the average personal injury settlement is for a claim. However, any "online damages calculator" or attorney who claims to have a concrete formula for determining an injury settlement is not likely to be accurate. Before you accept a settlement offer, you should ask yourself:
- Will this settlement cover current and future medical bills?
- Does this settlement cover my lost wages and any lost earning capacity?
- Does this settlement offer cover recovering from trauma (pain and suffering)?
A personal injury attorney can help you determine if a settlement is fair based on the severity of injuries, your degree of fault (if any), and how much your injuries are likely to affect you in the future. Other factors that can have a significant impact on the value of a claim are the amount of insurance coverage available, and the skills and abilities of your personal injury lawyer.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out?
It is common for personal injury payments to be paid as a single lump-sum distribution paid out by an insurance company. This has the advantage of liquidity and gives you the freedom to determine how to use the money. However, if you are unable to work, you may prefer to receive regular payments (monthly, quarterly, or annually) in a structured settlement. Structured settlements can protect injured parties from spending money too quickly. Historically, personal injury victims spend money quickly in the first few years after an accident, and may not consider their long-term or life-long needs.
Personal injury payments are designed to make people "whole" after an accident and are not considered taxable income. However, if you invest your money and earn income on it, that may be subject to taxes.
Secure Maximum Settlement: Hire A Qualified Personal Injury Attorney
Car accidents occur every day in Georgia. In 2017, Georgia had the 8th largest population in the United States but had the 4th greatest number of traffic fatalities (1,540) in the nation. If you are injured in a vehicle accident in Georgia, you are not alone. The Graham Firm is here to help you with your personal injury claim following a car accident or other injury accident. Our lawyers have obtained more than $60 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We offer a free personal injury case evaluation to answer your questions and discuss your legal rights and options.
How much to ask for in a personal injury settlement? Although every case is different, in your consultation we can give you an idea of settlement outcomes for similar cases, and explain some of the factors that may increase or diminish the value of your claim. It is a myth that the insurance company will never offer any more than their initial offer. Before you accept a personal injury settlement offer, contact our law firm to arrange a free and confidential consultation (404) 526-9955.