FAQ: If My Case Settles, How Much Should I Expect to Receive From My Texas Injury Case?
The standard response to this question is simply, “it depends.” Because every lawsuit, every injury, and every set of facts is different, there is no way to know for sure. Many times, it all comes down to what a jury is likely to award you if your case goes to trial. However, there are certain factors that assist attorneys and insurance companies in arriving at a settlement value. Keep in mind, your case will likely settle for a lot less if you don’t have an experienced injury attorney on your side. That being understood, here are the factors that will likely determine a case value:
Severity of Injuries – Generally, medical bills are a good indicator of the severity of the accident, and they are measureable, which provides some figures that your attorney can work with to calculate a base settlement amount.
Future Medical Care – If your injuries were severe enough to require future medical treatment, such as ongoing care, or future surgeries, those expenses will be estimated as well. Where future medical care may be needed, an experienced attorney will usually hire a medical expert, along with an economist. These experts will create a “life care plan” that will be used to estimate the monetary amount of future medical care.
Lost Wages – If you were unable to work for a period as a result of your injuries, your past lost wages will be calculated to show the amount of wages you missed in the past. Additionally, if you won’t be able to return to your job, or perform the same type of work you did in the past because of your injuries, you can generally recover for future loss of earning capacity as well.
Liability: Who Was At Fault? – An experienced injury lawyer will be keenly aware of any liability issues that the defense is likely to raise, and will work early to discredit the defense attorney’s liability theories. If your case goes to trial, a jury will have to determine who was at fault, and what proportion of fault each party should bear. It’s possible to find that a plaintiff is partially at fault. If you were partially at fault, your award could be reduced by the percentage of fault that is yours. For example, if you were awarded $100,000.00, but the jury found you 20% at fault, your award would be reduced by 20%, thus making your actual award $80,000.00.
Pain & Suffering – Calculating pain and suffering is probably the most difficult portion of case valuation. While medical bills, and lost wages are based off of objective and measurable data, pain and suffering is more subjective, and varies greatly from case to case. Pain and suffering generally looks at the experience of the injured victim and the impact of their injuries on their daily activities. Pain and suffering generally looks at mental anguish, pain, and physical impairments that you have suffered, and will continue to suffer into the future.
Venue & Juries – Lastly, WHERE the injury occurred has a great deal to do with the value of a case. Texas has enacted sweeping tort reform, which makes it much harder for injured Texans to receive fair compensation for their injuries. The Texas legislature is all but in the pocket of the insurance industry, and has enacted laws that make insurance companies richer and richer, but these laws hurt average Texas. As such, just because a similar case in another state was worth millions, does not mean that it will be worth the same amount here in Texas. Also, the location of the accident within Texas determines how favorable a jury may be towards your case. Some areas have juries that are friendly to injured people, while other areas do not. An experienced injury lawyer will know how to evaluate the what type of jury you are likely to draw, and will adjust expectations accordingly.
While there is no way to put an exact number on a settlement, given the factors above, an experienced attorney can generally give you a ballpark estimate of what he or she feels your case is worth.
If you have received an offer from an insurance company shortly after the accident, you may be tempted to accept it. Don’t! Quick money right after a settlement generally means that they know your case is a lot more valuable that you may realize. We recommend that you seek a consultation with an injury lawyer. You can find out about a FREE consultation here.