Over 95 percent of civil cases are settled out of court. In a personal injury settlment, the victim receives money in exchange for a waiver of all claims related to the incident. While the outcome is fairly certain, the process is anything but. In fact, a successful settlement in a personal injury case, which is defined as the most possible compensation, is a delicate combination of science and art.
The Science: Preliminary Steps
Before a demand can even be made, the amount of damages must be determined. In most cases that involve a serious injury, all immediate medical needs must be taken care of: broken bones should be mostly healed and other immediate injuries must be addressed. Additionally, most doctors need to evaluate their patients over the course of several visits, to determine an appropriate course of long-term treatment.
Once the amount of current economic damages is established, the amount of future economic damages can be fairly ascertained. Because of the permanent waiver, future expenses must be accounted for, to the greatest extent possible.
The Art: Settlement Value
This step is much more subjective, because current and future economic damages are only one part of the equation. Additionally, a personal injury attorney must consider:
- Non-Economic Damages: To estimate pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and other intangible losses, most attorneys use a multiplier of between one and five, depending on the severity of the incident.
- Jury Tendency: This factor is impossible to calculate in a real sense, but most experienced lawyers can make an educated guess. To get an even clearer picture, many lawyers gather a focus group that gives honest feedback concerning the evidence and issues in the case.
- Case Strength: If liability is clear, the settlement value is higher; if both parties were at fault, the settlement value is lower.
To aid in the settlement process, the judge refers most contested cases to formal mediation. Some cases are heard by an arbitrator, depending on the nature of the agreements between the parties.
The goal of a settlement is maximum compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New Braunfels, contact our office. The sooner you call, the easier it is to obtain fair compensation.