What is a Good Settlement Offer?
May 25, 2021 | Personal Injury
At the absolute minimum, a good personal injury settlement offer must cover all past and future injury-related expenses. Using a spine injury as an example: the past and future medical bills in these situations can exceed $5 million. This figure usually includes medical treatment, physical therapy, and other direct costs.
Spine injuries also have significant collateral costs.
For example, when these victims relocate, their living spaces must accommodate their disabilities. These renovations are usually quite expensive.
Unless the settlement addresses all these future costs, the victim could be financially responsible for them.
Injury victims are also usually entitled to compensation for their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
These costs are often difficult to determine. So, to resolve a claim out of court, a New York personal injury attorney must take a number of factors into account.
Laying the Foundation
The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence case. Therefore, facts are critical. But a good knowledge of the law, which includes anticipation of insurance company defenses, is just as important.
Evidence like medical bills, the police accident report, and witness statements must do more than establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence.
In order to obtain maximum compensation, the proof must reflect the injury’s severity. Frequently, medical bills are in “medspeak” instead of English. Additionally, these records often lack treatment notes and other information.
In these situations, attorneys usually call additional doctors to the stand who are essentially interpreters. As for the victim’s pain and suffering, witnesses can testify about how the injury affects the victim’s daily life.
As for legal defenses, attorneys must anticipate insurance company responses and make sure they are prepared to deal with them.
Comparative fault is a good example, in one form or another, this defense appears in almost every kind of personal injury claim.
If there is any indication that the victim did not drive defensively, might have provoked a dog, or might have ignored a warning sign, insurance company lawyers usually press this defense.
Sometimes, comparative fault does not apply as a matter of law, because the possible contributing cause was so weak. Other times, the insurance company doesn’t have enough evidence to both support its contentions and sway a jury.
Determining the Settlement Value
The facts and the law largely determine a claim’s settlement value. But some other factors are usually involved as well.
Economic losses, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, often seem straightforward. But there are some complexities.
Medical providers often discount their fees in these situations.
If Phil’s doctor voluntarily reduced his medical bills from $10,000 to $6,000, Phil might or might not be able to keep that extra $4,000.
As for property losses, victims are entitled to compensation for both the financial and emotional value of the family car or other item. Finally, lost wages often mean lost productivity. Many injury victims work for many months, or many years, before they are back to full capacity.
To determine noneconomic damages, a New York personal injury attorney typically uses intangible factors.
Some factors include the severity of the injury, the victim’s motivation (i.e. does s/he want to settle the matter quickly or hold out for more compensation), any insurance company defenses, and the insurance company’s motivation (i.e. does it want to settle the matter quietly or fight it tooth and nail).
The settlement value serves as a starting point for settlement negotiations. These negotiations are outlined below.
If the facts and law are relatively one-sided and both sides want an early resolution, the personal injury claim could settle rather early in the process.
Settlement negotiations usually begin in earnest once medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Until that time, future medical expenses, which were discussed above, are speculative.
These stars very rarely align. Many injury claims are quite complex. Furthermore, one or both sides usually want to see things through.
So, a good settlement offer usually comes during mediation.
After an independent New York personal injury attorney reviews the legal paperwork, s/he helps the two sides find common ground and agree on a financial settlement.
Most personal injury claims settle out of court, but the process isn’t always quick and easy. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.
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