What happens if you’ve suddenly been hurt in a car accident, had a slip-and-fall or another kind of personal injury caused by another party’s negligence? If you find yourself in this situation, you no doubt have to deal with considerable medical bills and time off from work. There are many questions you may be asking yourself:
- How long does the process take?
- What can you do to increase chances of winning a settlement?
- What a fair and adequate amount is to cover your losses?
With such a complex set of outcomes possible in personal injury cases, there is much to learn about your settlement and what channels need to be pursued to get yourself compensated. This article seeks to answer many of those questions for you and help guide you to your next course of action that will hopefully lead to healing and a just resolution.
Factors That Can Affect the Value Your Personal Injury Claim
There are certain factors that have been shown to positively or negatively impact the value of your personal injury claim. Some of those factors include:
- The type of accident you were involved in
- The Severity of your injuries
- Medical expenses
- How long you were off of work due to your injuries
- Total amount of recovery time
- Any long-term injuries and effects
- Whether or not you, as the victim, contributed to the accident
No two personal injury cases are exactly alike, and as a result, two cases may vary widely in the amount of compensation awarded. While the average slip and fall case settles for between $30,000 and $60,000, many cases are awarded in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions in some circumstances. Likewise, the average car accident settlement is only $21,000, however there are cases that are awarded far more and far less.
Your personal injury lawyer will help you weigh the aforementioned (and other) mitigating factors to help determine how much they may impact your personal injury settlement.
How Long Does A Personal Injury Settlement Take?
Again, the length of time for you to receive your settlement can be longer or shorter due to a number of factors. The particulars of your case and the circumstances surrounding it will decide the length of time, as well as the following:
- The degree and extent of your injuries
- When you will reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI);
- If your case is being disputed by the other party
- Negotiations for the settlement
- If your case needs to go to trial (US Government statistics show that around 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. The other 95% are settled pretrial.)
- How long you are willing to wait for a good outcome
Damages You Can Seek For a Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are two types of damages you can seek for personal injury claims in California: economic and non-economic damages.
These serve to reimburse you for any expenses directly related to your accident or injuries such as:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
These damages are also related to your accident or injuries but are for recovery of intangible damages, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are not often awarded as they are damages assessed in order to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct and serve to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which caused the personal injury lawsuit. If a defendant’s egregious, malicious, or careless actions caused your injuries, a court might award punitive damages.
Your attorney will help you estimate the appropriate amount of damages due to you.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?
It is very important to file your personal injury claim correctly and promptly in order to be entitled to the compensation you deserve. A statute of limitations imposes a time limit on how long you have to file your lawsuit.
In California, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is two years from the accident date. If your injury was not discovered right away, then the statute starts 1 year from the date the injury was discovered. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the specified timeframe, you will forfeit your right to compensation.
Shared Fault Laws in California
It is important to note that in some personal injury cases, the defendant may make the argument that the you, the injured party, is actually at fault (at least partially) for causing the accident in question. This is called shared fault or comparative negligence.
If you are at fault for some level of liability, in this case, that can affect the amount of compensation you end up receiving from the other at-fault parties. If your case is found to be a shared fault case, California follows a rule called “pure comparative negligence.” This means that the total amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by the amount that is equal to the percentage you are at fault for the accident.
Legal Help with Heart at Hann Law Firm
At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach from the start. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals.
While other firms see a case number and a bottom line, we see each client as a human being who deserves justice. We know your case is important to you, and we’ll take it just as personally. You and your case matters to us. Contact us for your free consultation and get quality, compassionate legal help today.