How much can you win for your injury? What limits reimbursement? In this section, the injury lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm discuss 5 major factors that determine compensation amounts for your injury.
1. Liability and Negligence
The big question is a liability. Who is legally responsible if you were injured? Was someone (such as a store owner or a civic agency) act negligent and cause you to slip and fall, or get in a car accident? Establishing liability is essential. If, for example, you’re unable to provide enough evidence that a driver was liable for the injury, it’ll be much more difficult for the driver’s insurer to settle your initial demand. At the same time, being liable and actively being “negligent” are different. A city may own a park but you can’t sue the city if your child gets bit by a dog in the park. If you have any questions about liability or negligence, contact one of our personal injury lawyers.
2. How Does Comparative Fault Affect Personal Injury Claims?
In Missouri, comparative fault is different than it is in other states. A brief example would be that if a plaintiff claims $200,000 in damages, but the jury decides that a defendant is only 80% at fault and the plaintiff was 20% at fault, the plaintiff would only recover $160,000. Comparative fault can be used by defendants to show that other parties (a business owner, another driver, etc.) were partially responsible for the plaintiff’s injury.
If you (the victim) were partially responsible for a car accident, for example, because you were going 5 miles-per-hour over the speed limit, expect the defending insurance company or the negligent party to use that information in an in-court or out-of-court discussion.
3. Does the Location I’m In Impact Injury Cases?
Location or “venue” is another factor that can limit your compensation. If your claim escalates and you go to court, the final verdict (settlement) will vary greatly based on your location. Every city, county, and state has different precedents for different cases. A $50,000 dog bite case in St. Louis might be worth half as much in Illinois.
You can usually tell the normal or expected cap on compensation if the insurer and defendant offer to settle at a certain price. They know how much a case is worth based on experience, and going to court would just prolong the process and the verdict would be the same. However, if you believe your claim is worth a lot more due to unaccounted special damages or general damages, contact a local personal injury lawyer that is able to help you understand the types of compensation you can get for personal injury claims.
4. Necessary vs. Reasonable Medical Expenses
As we’ve mentioned before, medical bills are easily reimbursed to victims if there are clear negligent parties that caused the accident in the first place. If your leg broke, the hospital will bill you for x-rays, tests, any labs that were run, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and so on. These are reasonable medical costs.
However, adjusters will keep an eye out for unreasonable costs. A good example would be if you were in a minor car accident and suffered soft tissue injuries such as a bruise and a manageable laceration. Standard emergency room bills are reasonable, but $3,000 spent on sessions at a chiropractor may not be considered reasonable. You’ll need to reach out to a personal injury lawyer if an insurer tries to fight against or counteroffer medical expenses that may be beyond the general scope of correcting an injury.
5. What Are Policy Limits?
Insurers also have policy limits that cover a set amount of their client’s policy. If you’re in a car accident and there’s $20,000 in damage, but the at-fault driver only has a $15,000 policy, it’s time to contact an attorney who can help you escalate the claim. If the negligence was obvious, the insurer may easily offer you the policy limit to brush the case under the rug, which means they know you have a good case that is worth a lot more.
You can contact the Dixon Injury Firm for more information about how much you can get for your injury.