Two Things to Know about a Personal Injury Lawsuit

By on February 7, 2013

 

Personal injury lawsuits result when a person believes they suffered injury due to the negligence of another person or entity; like any area of law, there are lots of moving parts when it comes to putting together a case and determining likely outcomes. If you are in the process of bringing a suit, here are two important things you need to know about your case.

Role of Fault and How it Affects the Outcome

Whether or not you played any role in your injury is an important factor in determining whether you will receive compensation, and if so, how much. If your injury can be attributed in any way to your own carelessness, disregard for reasonable safety precautions or any other action that may have contributed to the injury, may affect any damages or whether or not you even have a case.

Most states operate on a system where the amount of damages determined by the insurance company is reduced by whatever percentage you were at fault—for example, if your case is worth 200,000 dollars and you were found 25 percent at fault, you would receive 150,000 dollars; if you are 50 percent or more at fault, some jurisdictions may not award any damages at all.

There is no set formula for how this is calculated that applies across the board—insurance carriers have a variety of formulas for calculating something of this nature. In some cases, your degree of fault makes no difference while in a handful of states, any fault on your part negates any right to file suit. On a somewhat related note, damages could be affected by any action you took after the injury that would impede proper recovery, such as missing doctor’s appointments, not following medical advice or engaging in activities that would worsen your condition.

Worth of Your Case

Naturally, one of the first things you probably want to know about your case is how much money you may be entitled to; well, there really is not clear-cut answer to that. Besides the aforementioned role of fault, there are numerous individual factors at play such as severity of the injury, cost of medical bills and whether or not you will require ongoing care, lost income and whether you will be able to work again in the future, emotional trauma and impact of your injury on relations with a spouse to name a few.  Insurance companies have formulas they use to determine some of the intangibles such as pain and suffering, with cost of medical bills serving as the foundation; once this is factored in, lost income is added to the final figure. This number is not necessarily the final tally-it often serves as the base for negotiations. If the defendant acted particularly egregiously, you may also receive punitive damages, which are awarded to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior by others. Upon meeting with an experienced attorney, he may be able to offer some guidance on how much money your case may be worth based on his knowledge and experience of past cases.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who covers a range of legal topics; if you are in need of the services of an Chicago-based  personal injury attorney, see more here.

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