Filing a personal injury lawsuit takes time, money and energy on the part of the attorneys representing the plaintiff(s) and the defendant(s). Most personal injury attorneys have to spend quite a bit of time deciding if the personal injury suffered is worth their effort.
While that may sound callous, it’s true.
At one of the most difficult times of your life, when you may still be in pain and while you may still be suffering emotional distress due to your injuries and their impact on your life, you have to “put yourself out there” and tell your story to complete strangers, possibly many times over, to find the right personal injury attorney for your case.
Find the Right Attorney First
Because of the costs involved with taking on personal injury claims, attorneys must ascertain whether you have a valid claim and that there is a defendant with the potential to pay for your damages. The attorneys must also assess whether they have the resources and staff necessary to represent you effectively. Beyond that, your attorney must be confident any settlement or amount awarded by the jury will result in fair compensation to you while covering all of the costs associated with your case as well as the attorney’s legal fees.
Here, at the Law Offices of J. Ransdell Keene, we offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation so we can hear the details of your accident and injuries and then decide if we will take your case.
If we both agree that we want to work together on your claim, we will fight to get you the highest amount of monetary compensation possible. In most cases, we will be able to give you a pretty good idea of what your case is worth after hearing the details of what happened and how you’ve suffered.
Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Claims
At the heart of all personal injury lawsuits is determining who is at fault and to what degree and how much money should the victim be awarded to make him or her as “whole” as possible again. Keep in mind that different states have different laws regarding fault as well as comparative vs. contributory negligence.
Some states allow plaintiffs to collect a certain amount of money if they are deemed to be a certain degree of “at fault” in their accident and injuries. Other states don’t allow plaintiffs to collect any money if they are at fault, and still other states use a formula to figure out the amount awarded to the plaintiff based on his degree of liability. The formulae used for these calculations are complicated, but our job is to explain them to you so you can make an educated decision.
Compensatory damages are different from punitive damages in that the former compensate the injured plaintiff for what was lost due to the accident or injury. A compensatory damages award is meant to make the injured plaintiff “whole” again to the extent that is possible from a monetary standpoint.
Judges and juries have to put a dollar amount on what they have decided the accident and injuries have “cost” the victim. Some compensatory damages are relatively easy to put a number on (reimbursement for medical bills, lost property, lost wages) while others, like pain and suffering, are much more difficult to nail down with a dollar amount.
Punitive Damages in Personal Injury Claims
Punitive damages do just that—punish the defendant and are intended to serve as a deterrent to behaving in a way that causes harm to others. Many states have a cap on punitive damages, but in the rare cases in which egregious behavior, malice and reckless disregard are clearly evident, punitive damages may be awarded.
What May Affect Your Personal Injury Case’s Worth
In many cases, the plaintiff’s role in the case may affect the amount awarded to him. Plaintiffs are expected to “mitigate damages”, which means that you are expected to make an effort to become “whole” again and not sit back and wait for a large payout from the defendant. You should go to your medical appointments as directed and strive to recover fully and eventually return to work when you are able. You should not share the details of your case on social media, and you should not exaggerate your injuries to anyone.
Your behavior following your accident is a big factor in determining your award, and as your personal injury attorney we will provide some tips on what to do and not do following your accident. You’re encouraged to use common sense and follow the orders of your physicians and your legal team.
Please call us today to schedule your free initial consultation.