If you’ve been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, you may be suffering in many ways. Not only have you lost money because you couldn’t go to work because of your injuries, you’ve also lost property value in terms of your wrecked car. What is a pivotal point in nearly all car accident cases, though, is the matter of pain and suffering.
In this article we will answer some of the most common questions accident victims have about the pain they’ve experienced and the suffering they may be burdened with for the rest of their lives. If you’ve been injured, you probably want to know what your suffering is worth and what the settlement will be. How are settlement figures arrived at and some related questions are answered in this article:
- What losses are calculated to come up with an accident settlement?
- How much is a lost leg worth?
- My ability to earn a living has been taken away – can we collect for that?
- I have suffered tremendous emotional distress since the accident; will I be paid for that?
- How can I know that the settlement amount will be fair?
What losses are calculated to come up with an accident settlement?
First of all we need to think in terms of the severity of the entire accident. An accident case is made up of several components, all of which go into making the settlement full and just. Items that must be part of the calculation are:
- Medical bills including tests, surgeries, and treatment that must be done while you regain your physical abilities.
- Lost Wages – this includes past and future time missed from work, and may also include any time you cannot work because you have to attend treatment programs and appointments with specialists.
- Pain and suffering include your
- Ability to actually do normal activities without pain or fear
- Ability to enjoy the ordinary things you did before the accident – walking, riding a bike, going to church, shopping are just a few examples.
- Actual inability or limitations to your ability to do these activities as a result of the accident
- Physical pain you’ve endured since the accident: what you experience today, and what you will likely suffer in the future
- Mental distress you have suffered since the accident including what you currently suffer and will continue to suffer in the future
Some of these factors are easier to calculate than others. Often, you can add up the medical bills (past and estimated future costs) and lost earnings or the costs to repair or replace your vehicle. What cannot be so easily billed is the things you can no longer do, like fishing or roller skating.
Those intangible costs are much more difficult to account for. To do this, Georgia Law tells us that quality of life issues are best resolved by an ‘enlightened jury.’ The jury will be in the best position to assign a value the quality of the life you are left with following the accident.
What are large injury cases worth and how are they valued?
Catastrophic losses, such as permanently injured or lost limbs, are terrible, life altering injuries.
Generally speaking, the more severe the injury is, and the more permanent the loss, the higher the value for pain and suffering tends to be. The value of a lost leg, for instance, is much greater, and may require a much higher settlement, than a broken ankle from which there is a full recovery.
Often, when lawyers determine settlement values they consider factors such as whether the injury is permanent, how much and for how long will you suffer, what you do for a living, whether or not your earning capacity has been changed, and how your personal enjoyment of life has been impacted. A fireman who also volunteers as a basketball coach and can no longer do those things due to a large injury, may have a much larger claim, than a teenage athlete who quickly and fully recovers from a minor injury.
My ability to earn a living has been taken away – can we collect for that?
A lost limb might mean that you couldn’t work at your regular job anymore. This would be factored in when the lawyers begin negotiations.
The difference between the amount of money you would be paid as an office staffer versus your former job as a successful salesman or a tier-one mechanic/technician could be significant. This difference in your earning capacity for the balance of your working life would also be factored into the settlement.
How can I know that the settlement amount will be fair?
Your attorney will do his/her best to present a compelling argument about how your life has been changed by your injury. This is especially true if you have suffered a large or permanent injury. Attorneys can, and often should, conduct jury verdict research to determine what other settlements and verdicts have been in other similar cases.
Other convincing arguments, such as how the accident has affected your enjoyment of life and how much it could cost you in the future, come from years of practice and a wealth of experience. Personal injury lawyers develop these skills through actual on-the-job experience. For this reason, it is usually in your best interest to choose a lawyer who has a long and successful history of winning personal injury cases.
You may choose to begin with an initial consultation. These initial meetings should be free of charge as part of the attorney’s services. You’ll simply make the appointment and sit down with a lawyer or his legal team and discuss what happened in the accident and how it is affecting your life. It is not even necessary for you to have the accident report or your medical records during an initial consultation. An experienced lawyer can begin gathering the evidence necessary to investigate, gather that information for you, and begin the settlement process on your behalf once you agree to work together.
If you need advice or just have questions about your potential injury case, feel free to call our expert Atlanta personal injury lawyers. We’ll consult with you free of charge. Just give us a call at: 770-400-0000 today.