How much to ask for in a personal injury settlement? Anytime you're injured by another's negligence, you deserve a full and fair financial recovery for all of your damages. Not 50 percent, 80 percent or whatever the insurance adjuster says you deserve. You are owed 100 percent and you should never accept less.
At Burger Law, we have over 30 years of experience getting maximum compensation for our clients, and to date have secured over $200 million in verdicts and settlements. With offices in St. Louis, Chicago and elsewhere, we serve the injured throughout Missouri and Illinois. If you'd like to know how much to ask for in your settlement, or are wondering if you should hire an attorney, speak to one of our personal injury lawyers today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online for a free consultation.
How Much Should I Ask For in a Personal Injury Claim?
Some claims and injuries are worth more than others. The first step in determining the amount to ask for in a settlement is to calculate your damages. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that have a specific dollar value, such as medical expenses, lost wages and property damage. Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify, but they include things like pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.
Economic damages, are the damages you can put a dollar amount on. You'll need receipts, bills and estimates to prove these to an insurance adjuster. Examples of economic damages are:
- Medical expenses from any type of medical treatment that was a direct result of your injuries. These can include the cost of ambulance rides, emergency room costs, X-rays or other imaging tests, follow-up appointments, surgeries, medication, chiropractor or physical therapy appointments and assistive devices such as crutches or wheelchairs.
- Estimated future medical expenses that you might incur down the road. These expenses can include things like ongoing medical treatments, physical therapy, rehabilitation, a replacement for an artificial joint as well as any necessary equipment or medications. Future medical expenses can also include the cost of any future surgeries or procedures that may be required as a result of the injuries.
- Lost wages refer to the income a person loses as a result of being unable to work due to an injury. This can include any bonuses or commissions the person would have earned. To prove lost wages, an individual typically needs to provide documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, and a letter from their employer verifying their income.
- Lost earning capacity refers to the loss of future earning potential as a result of an injury. This can include the inability to return to the same job or profession, the need to take a lower-paying job due to the injury or having to work fewer hours.
- Out-of-pocket expenses, meaning any money you lost because of your injuries that isn't detailed above. This can include transportation costs to and from medical appointments or having to hire help for household chores.
In cases where there may be future medical expenses or lost earning capacity, you should never agree to a settlement without consulting an attorney.
There are many factors that determine how much you should ask for in non-economic damages. These include the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery time and the impact that your injuries have had on your life. Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Chronic pain
- Mental anguish
- Permanent physical impairment
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of consortium
There are a few different methods used to calculate non-economic damages in a personal injury claim. They include:
- Multiplier method — This method involves multiplying the economic damages by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5, that represents the severity of the injury. For example, a minor injury that resulted in a week off work might be multiplied by 1.5, while a severe brain injury that results in lifelong challenges might be multiplied by 5.
- Per diem method — This method involves determining a daily rate for pain and suffering, and then multiplying that rate by the number of days the person was in pain. The daily rate is often a day's wage, the thought process being that a day of suffering is worth a day of work.
- Specific dollar amount — This method involves arriving at a specific dollar amount for non-economic damages by using factors such as the nature and extent of the injuries, the length of recovery, and the victim's age, occupation and life expectancy.
While Illinois and Missouri courts have both said that lawyers and juries should not use mathematical formulas in a trial, you can use them when negotiating with an insurance adjuster.
Other Factors That Determine Your Personal Injury Settlement
While you'll need to calculate your full damages for a fair settlement, there are other things that may affect how much you should ask for in a personal injury settlement:
- The policy limits of the insurance coverage
- Whether you were partially at fault for your injuries
- How strong the evidence is in your case
- Whether or not you've hired legal representation
While a personal injury lawyer won't be able to add significant value to every case, we will be honest with you about whether or not we'll be able to increase your compensation. As we work on a contingency-fee basis, we have no reason to take on your case if we don't believe in it.
Missouri and Illinois Personal Injury Lawyers | Burger Law
At Burger Law, we don't "ask for" full compensation – we demand it. Whether your injuries are significant, the insurance company won't be fair or you just have doubts about whether or not you can get more in compensation, we're here to help. Call us today at (314) 500-HURT or fill out our online form to speak to a personal injury lawyer today.