The personal injury cases that gain traction in the media often amount to huge settlements – like the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case that paid out $2.7 million for a spilled cup of coffee.
The reality is a little more sobering, but that doesn’t mean that substantial five and six-figure sums aren’t paid out when there’s a case to be made.
Read on to find out how much a personal injury settlement is truly worth.
The Average Personal Injury Settlement in the US
It’s essential to take many claims about the average personal injury settlement with a grain of salt.
Every personal injury case is different – and a number of factors heavily influence the average amount.
Undoubtedly, the vital factor in determining the amount of compensation you’re owed is the level of injury sustained. This includes factors such as:
- Injuries resulting in permanent physical disabilities
- Injuries resulting in significant pain
- Reduced quality of life following an accident
- Loss of appendages and motor functions
- Medical bills resulting from an accident
Whether a disability resulting from an accident is temporary or permanent plays a significant role in the compensation owed to you.
Temporary disabilities include broken bones, impermanent loss of eyesight, and extended hospital stays. Permanent disabilities (though they may improve) follow you for life.
Average Settlements Across All Cases
In most cases not relating to auto accidents and medical practice (below), half of all plaintiffs receive $24,000 or less. The median amount across all personal injury settlements amounts to $31,000 per successful claim.
Average Settlements in Car Accidents
Car accidents don’t have to result in physical injury for you to be owed compensation. In a no-injury case, the average amount awarded to victims is a little more than $16,000.
Where a physical injury is experienced, that amount nearly doubles to over $29,000.
In addition, many states award punitive damages for lost wages and medical bills. Usually, this amounts to up to an additional $10,000.
Average Settlements in Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice that results in personal injury is often a result of systemic malpractice and not the fault of a single party. This, combined with the damages to a healthcare provider’s reputation, means that medical malpractice usually results in substantially higher payouts than in other cases.
The average amount awarded exceeds $600,000 in these instances. However, success in medical malpractice claims is also rare – on average, fewer than 20% of cases that go to trial succeed.
In some cases, a court will determine that you’re partly at fault for an accident. In these incidents, the contributory or comparative negligence rules apply (based on state), which restrict the amount of compensation you receive based on the amount of blame you share.
Contributory negligence, used by the states of Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C., precludes any compensation if you’re partly at fault.
Comparative negligence awards you compensation only if you have the minority of the fault.
How Likely Is a Personal Injury Claim To Succeed?
Whether a personal injury case succeeds depends on the type of case, the evidence available, the quality of your personal lawyer – and the degree to which you’re considered at fault.
Across the US and across all categories, personal injury claims have an average success rate of 50%. However, this varies wildly by type:
- Auto accident claims are likely to succeed (61%)
- Medical malpractice claims are unlikely to succeed (19%)
- Premise and product liability cases somewhat likely to succeed (38% – 40%)
In larger cases, where the defendant is a company, corporation, landlord association, or another large actor, it’s frequent to receive a settlement offer.
It’s very rare for cases to go to trial – the aforementioned statistics tend to put plaintiffs off, and it’s often cheaper in terms of legal fees to settle a case and pay punitive damages.
Should you receive a settlement offer, it’s important to take the time to consider it carefully and consult with your personal injury lawyer. And bear in mind: Most personal injury lawyers operate on commission – some may have the incentive to push for a trial that may award you nothing.
Finding a Personal Lawyer for Your Claim
There’s a sea of options to navigate when you’re seeking legal help. The most important things to bear in mind are to work with somebody you get along with, review a legal firm’s success rates, and pay for services with contingency fees to avoid hefty legal costs on your end.
Tip #1: Choose a Lawyer Who “Clicks”
Whether or not your case goes to trial, you’re going to be communicating with lawyers and paralegals in the aftermath of a traumatic experience. The ability to communicate your needs is vital, and a good lawyer will simplify legal jargon so that you understand your position clearly.
Ultimately, you’re in an uncomfortable position, and you want a lawyer by your side who will listen and empathize with your situation.
Tip #2: Opt for Contingency Fees
Most lawyers charge high hourly rates that can put you severely out of pocket if your claim fails.
Contingency fees are a commission earned by your lawyer if you win, and they offer two bonuses:
- Your legal team is committed to your case
- You don’t pay if you lose
Most contingency rates vary between 20% and 40%.
If you need to find a reliable and effective personal lawyer immediately, you can visit this law firm to arrange a free consultation.
Tip #3: Review Success Rates and Referrals
Ask friends, coworkers, and family for personal injury attorneys they recommend. The people in your social circle who have worked with lawyers in the past can give you honest advice without upselling services to you.
And they might offer you a warning about things to watch out for, to boot.
Claim What’s Owed to You
Even if it seems insurmountable, receiving your personal injury settlement is your right. Choose your lawyer wisely and ask the right questions, and you’ll be well on your way to putting your trauma behind you.
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