What is a reasonable settlement offer in your injury case depends on your individual situation. No two personal injury cases are the same. What is a good settlement amount in one case may not be enough to cover all the damages in another. How much your case may be worth generally depends on the seriousness of your injuries and the degree of negligence of the party who caused your injuries.
How to Figure Out What Is a Good Settlement Amount
When you’ve been injured in a car crash, slip and fall at a store, or another dangerous mishap, consider how much your injuries have affected your day-to-day life. Very serious injuries such as spinal fractures or traumatic brain injuries, for example, impact people’s lives in serious and potentially long-term ways. While bumps and bruises or sprains and strains can cause serious short-term discomfort and inconvenience, they are expected to heal and usually don’t have long-lasting effects. Serious injuries may never heal. You may need long-term medical attention and other assistance with the tasks of daily living for the rest of your life.
Questions to Ask When Determining a Good Settlement Amount
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you have a good settlement offer:
- How much have you spent on medical treatment?
- How much might you expect to spend on future medical care?
- Do you need help with personal and household tasks because of your injuries?
- How much time have you missed at work because of your injuries?
- Are you able to return to your current job, or do you have to take a less strenuous and lower-paying position?
- Can you work at all in the future?
- Did you suffer burns or other disfiguring injuries?
- What is your level of pain from your injuries?
- What is the emotional impact from your accident and injuries?
Think about everything that the accident has cost you when you try to figure out what your claim is worth. A good way to be sure you don’t miss anything is to think about your life before the accident. Then consider every change in your life that was due to the accident, including financial, physical, and emotional challenges. Pricing economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, is typically less complex than putting a figure on pain and suffering and other emotional effects. In serious injury cases, an experienced attorney who has handled many cases similar to yours can help you arrive at a dollar value for your case to help ensure that you don’t get less than you are entitled to.
Texas Comparative Negligence Rule
Another factor that can impact your settlement amount is the degree of fault involved. If the other driver or party was completely at fault, you’ll get more in a settlement offer. If you shared any blame for the accident, the insurance company will most likely make its settlement offer based on the Texas modified comparative negligence law. This law limits how much a person can get in a personal injury award at trial if they share any blame for their own injury accident. The percent they are at fault will be deducted from the compensation they are awarded. Insurance adjusters may also apply this rule in making settlement offers.
For example, if it can be proven that you were 20% responsible for the crash that injured you, your offer could be reduced by that percentage. Let’s say your settlement is worth $50,000. You would end up with $40,000, because your settlement would be reduced by $10,000 (20% of $50,000). This law also says that if someone is 51% or more responsible for an accident, they can’t recover anything. For these reasons, when there is any doubt about fault or if the other party is accusing you of sharing fault, it is smart to have the help of a personal injury attorney who knows how to look at all the evidence to prove negligence and fault.
How Much Insurance Coverage the At-Fault Party Has
Most personal injury claims are paid by the insurance companies of liable parties. How much the at-fault party carries in insurance can also impact how much you are offered. If they carry only the minimum amount of liability insurance and you are badly injured, it may not be enough to cover your damages. In Texas, the minimum amount of liability auto insurance required is $30,000 for injuries per person. With serious injuries, your medical bills and other damages would probably be much higher. In some cases, there may be a third party who also contributed to the accident. Third parties could include, in the case of auto accidents, another driver on the road, the owner of the commercial trucking company whose driver hit you, or a manufacturer whose part malfunctioned and helped cause the crash. When you’ve been injured in an accident, claims can be made against all parties who may be responsible.
How to Increase Your Chances of a Good Settlement Offer
You want to be fairly paid for the damages you’ve suffered. However, insurance companies look at one thing when negotiating settlement offers—their own bottom line. They will try to give you the lowest offer they possibly can. And because many people who have been negligently injured in accidents aren’t prepared for negotiations, this low-ball approach often works well for insurers.
Here are some tips to help you prepare and to increase your chances of getting a reasonable settlement offer:
- Have all the evidence of the accident and your injuries ready to refer to in negotiations. This could include police reports, doctor bills, photographs from the scene, witness statements, and other information.
- Have a general number in mind from the beginning of negotiations so the insurer knows you realize what your claim is worth.
- Don’t take the first offer you’re given. Insurers usually start out by offering the lowest amount possible.
- During negotiations, remind the insurance adjuster of the physical and emotional toll of your accident.
- Get the help of an experienced attorney. Insurance company adjusters are skilled at negotiating claims. It can greatly help your claim to have an experienced attorney on your side who understands Texas insurance and injury laws.
Contact a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn Options for Your Settlement Amount
Knowing how much to ask for in an injury claim is often confusing. This is especially true if your injuries are serious enough that you need medical treatment and other care into the future. You don’t want to ask for too little or accept a lowball offer from the insurance company or you could end up paying a severe financial price.
As attorneys with extensive experience in placing a value on personal injury claims, you can rely on us to review your situation and advise you about a reasonable settlement offer. We can also handle the claim paperwork for you and represent your interests with insurers to ensure that you are treated fairly. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us when you have been injured due to negligence and need guidance. Call the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.