Injured accident victims have lots of questions. The questions are aimed at the same point: how much money will I get out of my settlement or verdict? This "how much?" question is the most pressing issue our clients have. And it should be.
First, let's be clear. We cannot give you an exact answer. Any lawyer who suggests they can offer you a realistic valuation in an online consultation or a phone call is, to put it generously, blowing smoke.
But what you can expect to find on this website is information that will give you a better idea of (1) what your case is worth, (2) how much money that puts in your pocket, (3) how long you can expect the process will take, and (4) the average settlement value based on the type of injury or type of accident.
The value of your case all begins with a look at the injuries. So the starting point for you is to look at the statistics and other cases with a similar injury.
Catastrophic Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
Herniated Disc and Other Disc Injuries
Below the Waist Injuries
Above the Waist Injuries
Car and Motorcycle Accident Cases
Malpractice and Product Liability Cases
Settlement Value in the Different States
Note: Take these statistics with a grain of salt. These do not reflect the value of your case or any individual case. To get a better idea of the value of YOUR claim, you need to speak with counsel who can address all of the relevant facts in your case.
The Search for a Settlement Formula
There is absolutely a settlement formula for personal injury car accident claims:
Past Medical Bills
Future Medical Bills
Past Lost Wages
Future Lost Wages
Pain and Suffering Damages
This is the formula to calculate your settlement in a car crash case.
A formula is easy. You just input the numbers and make a calculation. But in the vast majority of our cases, the greatest harm in the case is pain, usually physical pain. How do you measure the pain and suffering that goes with physical and emotional damage?
The answer to how much money your pain and suffering is worth depends on the case. In some types of car and truck accident cases, insurance companies will try to use a computer program to compute a blueprint of a settlement formula. The insurance adjuster puts all of the details of the medical records into a computer. The computer spits out a settlement range for the insurance payout.
Computer-generated settlement values are typically very different from what our lawyers believe to be full justice in the case. In severe injury cases, a computer system trying to number crunch a dollar amount is an abomination of justice. (You can get a complete look at how insurance companies value cases here. At the bottom of this article, you can read about the settlement value of your particular injury.)
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In most traffic collision cases, if there is a serious dispute about liability, the lawsuit has a good chance of making it to trial. If auto insurance companies think their driver was in the right, they are more willing to try the case.
Medical malpractice, truck accident, premises liability and products liability claims are a different beast. The same formula applies to medical negligence, product defect, and premises liability cases with one addition. You must multiply the likelihood of success on the question of whether the defendant is at fault for the accident by the formula's calculation.
You don't have to be a statistician to figure out the equation. If your case is worth $2 million, but you have an 80% chance of winning the case, your "settlement formula" calculation would be $1.6 million.HOW MUCH OF MY SETTLEMENT WILL I GET?
This is the real question, right? How much money will you put in your pocket? Make no mistake. Personal injury cases are about money.
No doubt, there is more to life than money. You know this if you have suffered a serious injury or lost a loved one. But a civil tort case is about money. Does not mean you would not rather have your pain go away or your loved one come back? Of course not. But, unfortunately, money is all the justice you can get when making a personal injury claim.
Let's go back to that $2 million case that settled for $1.6 million because of the risk of a defense verdict at trial. Two things cut into that $1.6 million payout: (1) attorneys' fees and expenses and, (2) and medical liens.Attorneys' Fees
How much money do the lawyers take from your settlement? It is an important question because it is often a lot of money. Attorneys' fees are easy to figure out. They should be carefully spelled out in the retainer agreement. For our clients, the fees are the same in every single case we have: 33% of the recovery if the case settles before a lawsuit is filed.
So, your attorneys' fees under this scenario would be $533,333. Your second deduction is expenses. Our firm fronts all of the client expenses (and we swallow those expenses if you lose) but we get those costs back from the recovery. Clients understandably do not like this practice. But we still have not heard of any lawyer in serious injury cases doing it any differently.
How much are client expenses? It varies from less than $100 to well over $100,000 if your case goes to trial. If you settle a severe injury case before filing suit, the expenses will be a fraction of what they would be if you take the claim to trial. The real money gets spent putting the case on for trial. The average expenses in a car accident case that is settled before filing suit is usually a few hundred dollars.
The average expenses in a car accident case that goes to trial are approximately $15,000. A significant portion of that cost is paying expert witnesses to testify at trial. You can't know the exact amount that your expenses will be. But you can have an open and transparent line of communication with your attorney about your expenses.
In one of our law firm's complex medical malpractice practices, the cost will often exceed $100,000 long before the case goes to trial. We might spend $200,000 to $300,000 on a birth injury case.
But with Miller & Zois, and most law firms, we front those expenses. The client is not obligated to pay them if we do not get a financial recovery that exceeds those costs. In other words, our law firm bears all of the out-of-pocket risks.
One other question victims often ask that we will shoehorn in here is the logistics of a settlement. How is the settlement paid out? The insurance company will send a check made out to the lawyers and the client. The lawyer will get the client's permission to sign the check and then deposit it into an escrow account. In Maryland, we have very specific rules on how we set up the account (called an Iolta account). The client, the law firm, and any medical bills are paid out of that account.Medical Bills and Medical Liens
The last significant line item in most case is medical bills and medical liens. Medical bills are an easy one. You have to pay back the provider for your medical bills. On most medical bills, the client has an option as to whether they want to pay the outstanding bills out of their settlement.
To negotiate the bills and pay the claim out of the settlement or simply to leave the bills open. Some medical bills you may be legally required to pay out of a settlement. Some health care providers who know they have a motor vehicle collision case will require the plaintiff to sign an "assignment and authorization."
This agreement requires counsel to reach a deal to pay back the health care providers. Hospitals can often put a lien on those funds requiring the lawyers to pay at least some portion of their bill.
Medical liens are a little more tricky. The rules are going to vary by state. Let's talk about Maryland because that is where we handle the vast majority of our non-birth injury cases.
In Maryland, the health insurance company has a contractual right in many cases to be repaid. If you don't pay them back, you risk breaching your contract and losing your health insurance.Let's say you have $200,000 in medical bills and your health insurance pays the bills.
But they are not paying out $200,000. They are sending the providers $150,000 to extinguish those bills. In the majority of cases we handle, the patient is not obligated to pay the remaining $50,000.
We fight like crazy so our client does not get charged for the difference. We almost always win. But this depends on the jurisdiction and the language of the health insurance policy.
Whether you have outstanding medical bills or medical liens, the best lawyers do not stop fighting for their clients when they get a verdict or settlement. They fight for their clients work to get those medical bills and medical liens reduced.
There is no question that insurance companies consider the trial record of your lawyers before making a settlement offer. Do your lawyers have a history of success at trial? If they do, the value of your case will go up.
So, in summary, there is no average personal injury settlement calculator. Artificial intelligence has not come that far. But if you do your research - see more below - you have a chance of getting a pretty good understanding of what the settlement ranges for your case might be.Getting a Lawyer to Fight to Get You the Most Money Possible
Our law firm handles motor vehicle collision and other tort claims. If you have been injured by a defective product, malpractice, or a motor vehicle collision, call us at 800-553-8082 or get an almost instant free no-obligation consultation.Related Articles