Personal injury cases that end going to court are different than settlements in several ways. The most striking difference for victims might be the monetary damage award decided upon by the jury. Taking a case to court doesn't just cost more in legal fees and time spent, but the amount you end up with is influenced by different factors than that of a settlement. Read on to find out about the key factors that determine how much you will walk away with after a court judgment.
Who Was at Fault for the Accident?
Liability is one of the main issues in personal injury cases. If you were even partially at fault for a car accident, for example, the amount of compensation you can expect will decrease dramatically. That is because the courts view fault as a percentage of the total amount of damages. For example, if you were hit from behind by another driver, you might assume the other driver is 100% at fault. What if, though, you hit your brakes so suddenly that the other driver did not have time to stop. Say the other driver attempted to avoid hitting you and jerked the wheel to the left and ended up striking your back driver's side. The judge and jury will take into account that the other driver should have been paying more attention, that they tried to mitigate the impact, and that your actions led directly to the entire incident. In a case like that, the other driver may be judged to be 78% at fault to your 22% fault. Your award is then automatically reduced by 22%, regardless of the damages.
How Severe Were Your Injuries?
The total cost of your medical expenses plays a large role in your compensation. In most case, higher medical treatment costs go along with more severe injuries. The chances of having to deal with severe injuries often impact the victim's quality of life and this form of damage translates to the pain and suffering portion of a damage award. When you are badly hurt, it takes longer to recover. That often means damage to familial relationships, impacts to a career, and emotional problems like depression and anxiety.
How Much is Available?
The money to pay you must be present and accounted for before your personal injury lawyer will take your case. In most cases, the other driver's automobile policy will cover your damages. If they had no insurance or were severely under-insured, you might hope that the driver has deep pockets. The court has the power to freeze investment and bank accounts, garnishee wages, and place liens on property in an effort to force the award payment.
Speak to your personal injury attorney about a ballpark figure to expect in your case.