FAQ: Is There a Minimum Personal Injury Settlement Amount?
Personal injury settlements always make the evening news or newspapers when they are large and impressive, or in some cases even record-breaking. To date so far, the courts have never ruled that there is an absolute maximum award for cases of extreme personal injuries. What about the settlements in cases that are on the other end of the extreme though? No one talks up more modest personal injury settlements. This of course begs the question, is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount that exists?
The Short Answer to the Question
Attorneys have responded that there are neither maximum nor minimum amounts of settlement in personal injury cases. The final dollar amount awarded as a settlement for a case of personal injury is dependent on numerous factors, such as the extent and nature of the injury, the level of financial damages which include both incurred medical bills as well as forfeited wages from a job, and the quantity of time for which the injuries are anticipated to stretch.
Factors Affecting the Minimum Settlement Amounts
There are numerous contributing factors involved in determining the final amounts of personal injury settlements. This is because a wide range of complex factors and changing elements are involved in the final determination and judgement. There are some factors which tend to most heavily influence the most typical outcomes of these injury cases. Among these are the following:
• The dollar amount of medical expenses and related bills which the victim has or victims have incurred as a result of the accident.
• The extent and type of injury or injuries from which the victim(s) have suffered.
• Whether or not any death and loss of life has occurred as a direct result of the accident.
• The type and amount of damage which happened to the vehicles in the accident.
• Whether or not these damages occurred – loss of past, present, or future income and loss of protection care, services, or assistance.
Other less important factors that influence the nature and amount of the settlement include:
• Real suffering and pain
• Mental illness and sorrow
• Burial or other funeral costs
• Termination of a job as a direct result of an accident and its adverse effects
• Loss of ability to work or of earnings capacity
• Damage to reputation within the hometown or community
• Level of economic damages (including medical bills and lost wages)
• If the injury involved is permanent or passing
• The seriousness of the guilty party’s actions in committing the infraction and resulting harm
• Whether or not the offender has admitted to and accepted responsibility for creating the injury or harm in the first place
It is important to keep in mind that these lists of contributing factors are not conclusive. They are only the most common factors which have to be taken into consideration by juries and judges when they evaluate the dollar value of personal injury claims, car accident claims, wrongful death claims, or medical malpractice claims.
What Happens When Judges Are Unsatisfied with Settlement Amounts
From time to time, judges may determine that the terms of a given court settlement do not seem fair and just based upon the amount of money that has been offered by the defendant. In these cases where the class action lawsuit case settlements award a dollar amount that is intended to compensate all medical bill claims for all injured parties, and yet the amount offered will not be enough to cover the said medical expenses for all plaintiffs, then even an extremely large settlement can be turned down by the approving judge until the amount is increased sufficiently. This unusual event actually transpired with the Rescue Workers from Ground Zero site when they agreed to accept a significant-seeming $657 million settlement back in 2010. The federal judge only approved the settlement when the final amount was increased to $712 million, representing an 8% increase over the original base offer and amount.