Most personal injury claims don’t go to trial. Instead, the defendant often will choose to settle with the injured person, paying money to compensate for economic and non-economic losses resulting from the injury.
Some injuries are permanent and life-changing, and no amount of money can restore the injured person’s life to what it was before. Still, the settlement process involves assigning dollar amounts to the losses, called damages, in order to make the injured person whole again.
What Settlement Amount Can I Expect?
There is no average, minimum, or maximum settlement amount for personal injury cases. Every case is unique, and your particular settlement will depend upon a number of factors:
- Type of injury. Injuries to organs, such as brain trauma, generally result in larger settlements than injuries to muscles and tendons, such as whiplash, but not necessarily.
- Source of payment. Even if the defendant is negligent, if there is no payment source (no insurance or insufficient coverage), a plaintiff may be unable to recover damages.
- In order to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant’s negligence must be the cause of the injury.
- Photographs that document the damage, accident scene, and weather and road conditions often make or break an accident case.
- Force of the impact. Although the force of the impact is not always an accurate indicator of the severity of the injuries, insurance adjusters tend to consider vehicle damage when deciding what size settlement to propose.
- Whether or not alcohol and/or drugs were involved. The size of a settlement may increase or decrease if one of the parties consumed alcohol, drugs, or medication prior to the incident.
- Medical bills. Your injury-related medical bills will form the basis of your compensatory damages, along with the cost of any future medical treatment you may require.
- Compliance with recommended medical treatment. Delaying medical treatment or refusing to comply with your doctor’s recommendations may decrease the amount of the settlement.
- Loss of past and future wages. If someone’s negligence caused you to lose money by being unable to work, your lost wages will impact the value of the case.
- A permanent injury. Testimony from a medical expert is often required to establish whether your injury is permanent.
- Scarring or disfigurement. Evidence of permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement may allow recovery for pain and suffering.
- Comparative or contributory negligence. Colorado follows a modified comparative fault rule, meaning that an injured plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by the amount of his relative fault. As long as his fault is less than 50 percent, he will be able to collect a reduced damages award, but if his fault is 50 percent or more, the injury victim will be prevented from collecting anything from the at-fault party.
- Legal representation. Generally speaking, those who retain a personal injury lawyer are likely to recover larger damage awards in a personal injury case than plaintiffs who choose to represent themselves.
Insurance adjusters often look at an attorney’s track record when preparing for settlement negotiations. You can also hire a court reporting agency which is a person whose occupation is to transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form, using shorthand, machine shorthand or voice writing equipment to produce official transcripts of court hearings. If your attorney lacks experience with Colorado accident claims, the insurance company might offer less to settle the claim. For competent legal representation in Colorado personal injury claims, contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen today.