Understanding Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
When you’ve been injured in a car crash, in a slip and fall, or other accident because of someone else’s negligence, you’re often left to wonder about the advantages of filing a personal injury claim. How will you be compensated?
While the process of filing a claim can be complex, it almost always follows a logical and predictable path—finding and hiring an attorney, understanding the basic laws governing personal injury, filing a complaint, gathering evidence, attempting to settle, and then if necessary, going to trial.
In the initial phases, you may wonder just how your damages will be determined, and it all begins with the three types of compensation you could receive.
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3 Types of Damages in a Personal Injury Case
The three types of “damages,” or compensation, that you could receive from a personal injury case are broken down into two categories. Compensatory damages seek to make you “whole” as a result of losses, while punitive damages punish the negligent party for intentional and willful misconduct.
Economic damages are compensatory and include your financial losses as a result of the negligent act that caused your injury. This type of compensation can be proven with evidence such as receipts and records.
Examples of economic damages you can receive compensation for include:
• Medical expenses
• Travel costs as a result of medical care
• Future medical care estimations
• Lost wages
• Job retraining costs
• Loss of future income as a result of permanent disability
• Property repair expenses
The general harm that you may have suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence is also considered a compensatory damage. However, it’s often difficult to place a number on this loss without the benefit of bills, receipts and records.
For that reason, you should work closely with a personal injury attorney to determine how to calculate the following non-economic damages:
• Pain and suffering
• Loss of enjoyment of life
• Disability or disfigurement
• Loss of companionship or consortium
• Mental anguish
While the purpose of economic and non-economic damages is to put you in as close to the same position as you were before you were injured, punitive damages are intended to punish the one responsible for your injury.
In most actions for negligence, punitive damages are not available. They will only be added when the negligent conduct of the person or business that caused your injury was outstandingly egregious.
The most common example in a car wreck case is drunk driving since the punishment also serves to warn others against engaging in similar behavior.
How the Negotiation Process Works
After working with your attorney to place a value on your case based on your economic and noneconomic damages, negotiations begin between your attorney and the insurance adjuster or opposing counsel.
You should have also agreed upon the least amount of a settlement offer you’re willing to accept. If the defendant doesn’t agree to your bottom line, then you’ll take your case to court.
Begin with a Demand Letter
Your Charlotte personal injury lawyer will send a demand letter to the adjuster, including the dollar amount you’re requesting. A description of your injury and a detailed list of your expenses will be included with all necessary supporting documentation.
In response, the adjuster will offer much less than requested or include criticisms that may consist of the following objections:
• The insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage
• The accident was either totally or partially your fault
• Medical treatment you receive is not medically necessary
• You’re suffering from a pre-existing condition
• You were not injured as severely as you claimed
Because the adjuster works for the insurance company, it’s almost always best to reject the first offer.
Reply to the Adjuster’s Initial Response
In your response, you should reiterate the insured is at fault for your injuries, the severity of your injuries and point out that all treatment was medically necessary. If medical experts have offered an opinion about how your future will be impacted due to your injuries, those opinions should be referenced again.
This is also a time in the negotiation process to slightly lower your settlement demand. But if it becomes clear that no settlement can be agreed upon, your attorney will pursue your case in court.
Put Settlement Terms in Writing
When an agreement has been reached, all the terms of the settlement should be put in writing including:
• The exact dollar amount of the settlement
• Specific injuries the settlement is expected to cover
• Date upon which you will receive compensation
The written agreement will be signed and dated by you and the insurance adjuster.
Contact Experienced Charlotte Personal Injury Attorneys
The personal injury attorneys at Campbell & Associates have years of experience calculating compensation and standing strong when insurance adjusters attempt to use contributory negligence laws to avoid paying victims. We know how to negotiate to maximize the amount of your compensation.
Contact us at Campbell & Associates for a free consultation by calling our offices at 704-333-0885 or filling out our easy online contact form.