The reason this is an important question is because, typically, an injured person is entitled to only one insurance settlement in their personal injury claim. This means that injured persons with claims must be careful and cautious when considering a offer to settle a personal injury case. This is where legal consultation can be helpful. Here is how I approach it when people call me for an evaluation of their claim.
Average Injury Settlements
In my experience as a personal injury lawyer, an “average” settlement is one that compensates an injured person for their reasonable and necessary medical expenses, reimbursement for their income loss due to their injury, and a nominal amount for what the insurance companies refer to as “pain & suffering”.
Average settlements are acceptable in smaller cases where the medical treatments are limited and the injured person has made a full recovery.
Fair & Full Injury Settlements
A very good injury settlement is defined as one that accounts for an injured person’s total past, present, and future loss. The primary difference between an “average” settlement and a “very good” settlement in how the present and future damages are handled.
While there are traumatic injuries that fully heal without any sort of future effect, most traumatic injuries do result in permanent or longer-term issues. For instance, a person suffered a neck or lower back injury that has been diagnosed as a “strain/sprain” type injury. This is common in car accidents where the head, neck, and back are vulnerable to these types of injuries. While the injured person’s neck or back pain may have diminished with treatments, the areas that were injured heal over with scar tissue which replaces the previous uninjured health tissue. From a medical standpoint we know that scar tissue will never function as healthy tissue and the injured person is likely to encounter an earlier onset of aches, pains, and arthritis in those injured areas.
In this example, the injury settlement must factor in the present and longer-term consequences of the injury.
Serious Injury Settlement
A serious injury is one in which it is obvious that the injury is going to have a longer-range effect. In these cases, legal representation is almost always required in order to obtain a fair and full injury settlement that accounts for all of the injured person’s past, present, and future damages. Often, independent expert witnesses are needed to establish the medical prognosis, issues regarding permanent disability, the need for future medical and/or life care, as well as experts who can forecast the future costs associated with the traumatic injury.
Moreover, the non-economic damages play a big role in obtaining full insurance compensation. In this regard, the injured person must be reimbursed for more than just “pain & suffering. Loss of health, loss of mobility/freedom of movement, and loss of quality of life are significant factors when evaluating a settlement offer.