One of the most common and important questions that we get from people is about money. How much can someone recover in a personal injury lawsuit?
Everyone who contacts us for a free personal injury consultation has experienced some kind of loss: the loss of past and future income, the loss of enjoyment of life, the loss of financial freedom due to massive medical bills, and the loss of trust in people, institutions or businesses that had a duty to them. To start a personal injury case is to seek compensation for these losses after an accident.
If you’ve experienced a loss due to the negligence or actions of another, you can call us at 845-600-0000 to schedule a free personal injury consultation at our offices in Kingston or Poughkeepsie. We push back against insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve.
There are a lot of factors that go into it:
How early in the process did you engage a personal injury attorney?
Getting a personal injury attorney onboard early in the process does a number of things. It signals a level of seriousness to the insurance company, and prevents them from being able to pressure the plaintiff into admitting something or accepting a bad offer.
An experienced personal injury attorney can set wheels in motion to help make the case for a fair settlement: we can work with private investigators, medical experts and crash reconstruction teams, to name a few. We can use high-tech tools to reconstruct the conditions that caused an accident. We can request security cam footage that may make or break a case. And we can negotiate with insurance companies with the threat of a jury trial that they do not want.
Insurance companies also may try to obtain medical authorizations or influence your medical decisions after an accident.
Some other pitfalls that we can help prevent are posting about your injury on social media and making sure that your case does not pass the statute of limitations.
What pre-existing injuries did you have/how quickly did you see a doctor?
The longer you wait to get checked out in the emergency room or by a physician, the more wiggle room the insurance company has to say that your injuries are the result of “pre-existing conditions.”
What degree of fault does each party have?
New York is a comparative fault state. If an accident is 51% the other party’s fault, your recoverable damages are going to be less than if the accident is 75% their fault, and so on.
If you get into a motorcycle accident in Poughkeepsie, and you weren’t wearing a helmet, and you suffered from traumatic brain injuries, your degree of fault will be more than if you were wearing a helmet.
If you get into a car accident in Kingston, and it’s proven that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt and suffered major injuries, your comparative fault will be more than if were wearing a seatbelt.
If you have a medical malpractice case in New Paltz, and it’s proven that you went against the doctor’s advice in taking a medication after a surgery, your comparative fault will be more than if you followed the doctor’s advice completely.
If you slip and fall in a store in the Town of Ulster, but it’s proven that you were drunk at the time, your comparative fault will be more than if you had been sober.
New York has been a comparative fault state since 1975.
How much money were you expecting to earn?
If your lasting injuries are going to hurt your ability to earn a living, that is extremely important for determining a fair settlement.
This is highly dependent on context; how old you are, what you do for a living, how serious your injuries are.
The CDC put out some statistics in 2010 about this.
- People who went to the emergency department and were discharged quickly had an average “work loss” cost of $3,494.
- People who went to the emergency department and were hospitalized had an average “work loss” cost of $61,322.
- People who were unintentionally killed in accidents suffered an average” work loss” cost of $885,999.
What were your medical expenses?
According to 2018 statistics, 46% of the population is either uninsured or underinsured. If you get into an accident, there’s a good chance that you will incur some medical debt that isn’t covered by insurance.
The CDC put out some statistics in 2010 about average medical costs of emergency department visits; if you were completely uninsured at the time of an accident this is approximately.
- People who went to the emergency department and were discharged quickly had an average medical cost of $2,314.
- People who went to the emergency department and were hospitalized had an average medical cost of $35,065.
- People who were unintentionally killed in accidents suffered a medical cost of $15,144.
Does the other party have insurance? Do you have uninsured motorist coverage?
This is what attorneys call the “recoverability” aspect of damages. It’s possible that the other party has great insurance that can fully pay for your lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. It’s possible the other party has limited insurance that can only pay for part of your expenses. And it’s possible the other party is completely uninsured, so you won’t be able to collect any damages even if you win a judgment, or you’ll be limited to what you can collect from your own “uninsured motorist” coverage.