Accidents & Injury Facts

Should I settle my claim? Isn't it better to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Following a car accident, premises liability accident, or any other type of personal injury case, the injured party has a legal right to file a claim and pursue compensation through the court system. However, from a practical standpoint, there is typically an insurance policy in place that can cover your losses. The insurance provider will be the one to settle for a certain amount in exchange for you agreeing not to pursue damages in court. This saves the insurance company money and is also beneficial for you since you don't have to wait for your case to be settled in court to receive the compensation. Additionally, if your case is taken to trial, you also run the risk of not receiving anything if your case loses.

How does the insurance company make a decision on offering to settle?
When you are injured due to negligence, the insurance policy comes into play. Their main goal is to minimize costs while managing risks, so the insurer will focus on doing everything possible to resolve the claim before it is brought to court. This means they will try to reach a settlement by offering a sum of money and the defendant can't be held liable.

What exactly are "damages"? Which should be included into the amount of my settlement?
In a personal injury, there are different types of compensation that can be awarded, and these fall into two main groups: general damages and special damages. General damages include non-quantifiable things such as pain and suffering and loss of life enjoyment. Special losses are more measurable and include lost income, property damage and other economic losses.

Should my settlement include "pain and suffering"?
In the event that you were harmed in an accident and you were not at fault, you are entitled to some money for your pain and the way the injury has impacted your daily life. Accidents that have minor, short-term injuries may only result in a smaller "token" amount. However, more catastrophic injures will dramatically increase the claims.

Are my medical bills paid in an injury settlement?
Absolutely, or they are reimbursed in the settlement. Payment of medical bills will be a component of any settlement reached in an insurance claim or suit. All medical bills will be reimbursed including bills which are already paid or need to be paid in the future. In the event that your health bill was already paid, your health insurance provider may have a lien on part of your settlement.

Is there a minimum amount for personal injury cases?
There is no minimum or maximum when it comes to injury settlements. Each case is different and the amount awarded can vary based on a variety of different factors. Some factors affecting the monetary compensation award include the type of injury and the extent of them, the willingness of one party to let the case go to court, and the "pain and suffering" experienced.

Can a settlement offer be rejected?
Yes, in the event that you have filed a claim and brought a lawsuit against the negligent party, then you can reject any settlement offer that you receive. Some reasons to reject a settlement include not being able to decide on who was at fault, or differing on the extent of your injuries. Consulting with an attorney will yield insight into the best course of action.

How is my lawyer paid?
In the majority of personal injury cases, an attorney will represent you under a contingency fee, which means that nothing will be paid "up front." Your lawyer will collect a percentage of the amount that was agreed in the initial fee agreement that was signed. This percentage is usually around 33 percent. The lawyer's cut can also increase as the case progresses.

How do I collect my personal injury settlement?
This depends on the specifics of your case. In the event that the defendant had an insurance policy that covered the accident, the insurance company will typically just write a check for the amount that was agreed upon. If the defendant was sued directly, and there is no insurance in play, the time of payment could be longer if the defendant does not have many assets.

Do taxes need to be paid on my settlement money?
The IRS has offered some guidance on this issue; however, this depends on what the settlement covers. If the settlement is to be used for "physical injuries or sickness," then the compensation will not be taxable income. If no medical deductions were claimed in relation to these expenses, then they don't need to be counted as income for tax purposes.