When considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, the question in most people's minds is, "How much can I get for my personal injury case?"
This is not because the victim is greedy or wants to punish the defendant, but simply a normal question for anyone faced with mounting medical expenses and a loss of income.
The answer to this question is not the same for everyone because there are a lot of factors to consider when a personal injury settlement amount is awarded to the victim.
Any wrong decision by the plaintiffs can have a huge impact on the value of the personal injury settlements paid by the at-fault party. As such, having a good personal injury attorney is very important.
In Ohio, one of the go-to law firms for personal injury cases is Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. Victims can schedule a free consultation and prepare to go to war for their legal rights and explain what costs are there in a personal injury case.
Who Can Make a Personal Injury Claim?
The law in Ohio entitles anyone who has been injured due to someone else's negligence to sue the at-fault party or their insurance company for compensatory damages. As such, personal injury claims are quite common after car accidents, slip and fall cases, product liability, or wrongful death.
While the victim in an Ohio personal injury case can choose to file the lawsuit on their own without a legal team, this is not advisable. Many complications can arise when filing personal injury claims. It is better to have an experienced personal injury attorney handling the case to ensure that the victims get the fair settlement amount they are entitled to.
Out-of-court Settlements for Personal Injury Claims
Unlike what most people believe, the majority of the work done by a personal injury lawyer is not in court or in front of a jury. Most personal injury cases reach a settlement agreement long before the case goes to court.
As such, victims should not be afraid of having to testify in court after suffering severe injuries. With an experienced attorney on the case, they are likely to be offered a good personal injury settlement amount behind closed doors.
The Average Personal Injury Settlement Amounts in Ohio
How much compensation is awarded in most Ohio personal injury lawsuits? Knowing this allows the victim to estimate what their case is worth.
Based on research done by various companies, such as Jury Verdict Research, on average, the most personal injury settlement award that an Ohio victim can expect is around $300,000. However, the median payout is around $13,000.
This data shows that while victims who have suffered horrific injuries can expect several hundreds of thousands of dollars, the majority of personal injury claims are settled for much less. As such, it is difficult to estimate the typical personal injury settlement amount for any case without first consulting a team of seasoned personal injury lawyers in Cincinnati.
Calculating the Damages in Personal Injury Lawsuits
When personal injury victims sit down with their lawyers for an initial case evaluation, one of the first things they will do is calculate the possible damages that can be awarded for the case. In Ohio, compensatory damages are usually awarded in three different categories, which are:
When attorneys calculate the economic damages in a personal injury claim, they consider all the monetary expenses that the victim had to shoulder as a direct result of someone else's negligence.
As such, these damages usually include:
Costs if more medical treatment will be needed in the future
Cost of rehabilitation
Physical therapist fees
Costs associated with lifetime disability
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, can be a bit more complicated to calculate. This is because there are no receipts or invoices for medical expenses to rely on, and neither is there any letter of employment stating the number of hours that the victim has missed.
In most cases, it is up to the judge or jury to decide how much non-economic damages to award the victim in a personal injury claim. These damages usually cover unquantifiable things, such as:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium
Loss of enjoyment of life
There are some extreme cases where the court may feel that the defendant's actions warrant further punishment. This is where punitive damages will come into play.
In Ohio, the law states that if punitive damages are to be imposed, they cannot exceed 10% of the net worth of the individual (up to $350,000) at the time of the accident, or twice the compensatory damages, whichever amount is less.
Five Factors That Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Settlement
Various factors affect the value of a personal injury claim, and a good lawyer will look closely at each one before calculating how much personal injury cases pay and should you choose a structured settlement. The following are some of the most important considerations to make:
There is a huge difference in the value of personal injury claims in one state compared to another. This is because each state has its own way of interpreting personal injury law.
If the incident occurs in Ohio, for example, the victim needs to understand that this state uses modified comparative negligence laws when calculating how much to award victims who claim compensation.
Based on this law, the victim's own contribution to the accident will affect how much compensation they receive. If they are found to be more than 50% liable for the accident, they may end up walking away with nothing from the case.
Insurance Policy Limits
If the at-fault party is insured, the insurance company will be responsible for the compensatory damages. However, this will only be up to the policy limits. If the damages awarded to the victim exceed the policy limits, the insurance company lawyers will make sure that the responsible party is held liable for the remainder.
In cases where the at-fault party is unable to pay the victim out of their own pocket, the plaintiff may have to settle for just the insurance payout.
Strength of Evidence
The more damning the evidence against the defendant, the more money the judge or jury is likely to award the victim. This is why it is vital to collect as much evidence as possible, including:
Photos of the accident scene and injuries
Receipts for medical expenses
Testimonies from expert witnesses
When faced with such overwhelming evidence, insurance company lawyers are more likely to offer a huge settlement amount to avoid having to go to trial and risk losing a lot more money.
Any extenuating circumstances, such as injury to minors, willful negligence, fraud, or malicious acts may persuade the courts to award a lot more to the victims. This is common in cases where punitive damages have been awarded.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Finally, the level of experience of the lawyer will play a vital role in the outcome of the case. When it comes to personal injury trials, it usually boils down to which legal team can present a stronger case to the jury.
If victims choose a lawyer with a known track record of winning personal injury claims, they will stand a better chance of walking away with a higher settlement amount. This is particularly important when fighting for compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Statute of Limitations for Ohio Personal Injury Cases
In Ohio, the victim has two years from the date of the car accident or other incident that caused their injuries to file their personal injury claim with the court. Missing this deadline will mean the victim will no longer be eligible to seek compensation for that personal injury case.
Considering the amount of work that lawyers need to do investigating the incident and calculating personal injury settlement amounts, two years can pass in the blink of an eye. That is why it is important to seek legal representation as soon as possible.
What a Good Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do for Victims
In personal injury claims that have the potential to award a huge settlement amount to the victims, insurance companies will fight hard to avoid having to pay damages. Victims who fight this battle without a good lawyer on their side risk walking out of court with nothing for their injuries and medical expenses.
An experienced personal injury attorney will assist victims with the following:
Investigating the incident
Handling the claims process
Explaining how Ohio personal injury settlements work
Gathering the required evidence
Negotiating settlement offers
Representing the injured person in court
Fighting hard for maximum compensation
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys: Top-rated Law Firm in Ohio
The goal of a personal injury claim is to receive fair monetary compensation or a reasonable settlement agreement for serious injuries sustained due to the negligence of someone else.
Doing this properly means preparing for the case and considering all the factors that may affect the settlement amount awarded by the court.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has many years of experience doing just that for clients in Ohio. Victims can visit their Cincinnati law firm to sit down for a free consultation today.