How do you negotiate a personal injury settlement?
If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you can be compensated for your losses. Determining the right value to settle your injury claim can be difficult. Before you begin the settlement process you must speak to a doctor to determine the type and extent of your injuries. This way you will know how much money you need for compensation. Work with your attorney to begin these basic steps.
- The first step is to calculate the special damages. These economic losses are damages in which money is the only comparable substitute for what was lost. Examples of special damages are lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses and property damage. If you keep a detailed record of medical expenses and lost wages this can be very easy to calculate. Future economic losses can be hard to determine and is different for every case. This is where your attorney will be a huge help to work with medical and economic experts to determine the future expenses. The lost earning capacity can be determined by the difference in your actual earnings from your projected earnings if the injury had not occurred.
- The next step is to calculate the general damages. These damages are losses in which money is only a rough substitute. Some examples of general damages are physical pain and suffering, humiliation and embarrassment, shock and mental anguish, loss of reputation, loss of consortium, loss of society and companionship and emotional distress. The damages can be around 1.5 to 5 times the special damages, depending on the injury.
- The third step is to adjust the amount you calculated above to reflect the following factors.
- Liability. If you are partly to blame then the settlement about will decrease.
- Multiple defendants
- Characteristics of the plaintiff. Age, occupation, medical history and others can affect the settlement value.
- Where the case would be tried. An insurance adjuster will factor this into the settlement.
- Mitigating damages. Damages will be reduced if it is reasonably possible.
- The last step is to make your settlement offer and submit the demand letter to the defendant or their insurance company. There is typically a negotiation process between the plaintiff and defendant before an agreement is reached. If no settlement is reached then you will have to go to trial and a judge or jury will determine the amount of damages.