How does a Personal Injury Settlement Work?
If you’ve suffered a personal injury, it’s only natural to question whether you have grounds for litigation and if you do, what your case might be worth. In all such circumstances, there can be as many different settlement amounts as there are causes and types of harm or impairment. Nevertheless, an experienced personal injury attorney can give you a close estimate of any monetary amount you might expect to win.
Fighting Your Personal Injury Case
In contrast to the high-profile suits that appear in the papers, most personal injury cases never see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, the defendant’s attorney will make a series of settlement offers in the hopes of inducing the plaintiff to drop the charges.
Any such settlement process will always involve a certain amount of negotiation. Before they come close to reaching an agreement, the attorneys for each side must first determine how much they believe the case to be worth. To do so, they will research similar cases to learn:
- The size of awards determined by juries in previous comparable trials.
- The predetermined amount that insurance companies consider fair and adequate.
- Any factors peculiar to the current case that could affect the settlement amount.
Of the many elements that might affect the final determination, some stand out over others. In addition to making a reasonable calculation of the damages, attorneys will pay particular attention to the defendant’s financial situation as well as to the extent of his potential liability.
The Defendant’s Available Assets
Although many disparate factors can determine the eventual outcome of any personal injury suit, the defendant’s financial status could easily rank the highest. A person who is both uninsured and down on his luck will be hard-pressed to pay much in the way of damages. The courts can’t garnish his wages if he’s lost his job, and they can’t sell his assets if he has none. These factors are sure to influence the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney in deciding whether to accept or reject a particular settlement offer.
An equitable settlement in any personal injury lawsuit must take into consideration the plaintiff’s:
- Medical expenses.
- Time lost from work.
- Financial costs.
- Pain and suffering.
The value of these damages will vary with the severity of the case. While concrete medical expenses speak for themselves, awards for such non-economic entities as pain and suffering are often the subject of much contention. Although Nevada does cap such damages at $350,000 (NRS 41A.035) in medical malpractice lawsuits, this metric does not apply to any other type of personal injury case and has no effect whatsoever on compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
If the plaintiff is to win his case, his personal injury attorney must prove that he did suffer injury and that the defendant is, indeed, liable. This involves showing a clear relationship between the plaintiff’s injuries and negligence or intentional misbehavior on the part of the defendant. The amount of punitive damages can vary widely, and if personal or corporate wealth should enter the picture, the settlement amount can often rise quite high. Nevertheless, if the plaintiff should prove at least partially to blame for his injuries, Nevada’s modified comparative fault rule (NRS 41.141) will very likely limit any monetary settlement he might otherwise have hoped to achieve. For example, a Nevada plaintiff who is 40 percent responsible for having caused the incident in question is likely to receive only 60 percent of the amount to which he would have otherwise been entitled. Insurance adjusters frequently invoke this rule during settlement negotiations.
The Length of the Settlement Process
Although nobody wants a personal injury case to drag on for years, a too-early settlement can have the unfortunate effect of short-changing the plaintiff. For those who hope to win the best and fairest amount of compensation, patience is often its own reward. Eventually, the defendant’s attorney may offer a resolution that the plaintiff finds acceptable. Each side will then sign a settlement agreement, and the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney will drop the case.
Your Nevada Personal Injury Suit
Although many personal injury cases are similar, no two will ever be identical. Each will have its own particular twists and turns, and it will take a good personal injury attorney to sort through them. Fortunately, the professionals at Weiner Law Group are experienced in handling this type of litigation. To learn whether you might have a claim and what it could be worth, give us a call today at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form.