How Much to Ask For in a Personal Injury Settlement [With Case Examples]

July 2, 2020

A personal injury can be a seriously challenging — and often life-changing — experience. In addition to suffering physical and emotional pain, there are often significant medical expenses and time missed at work.

The most common types of personal injuries include construction accidents; slips and falls; animal bites and attacks; vehicle, motorcycle, and truck accidents; sexual assault, wrongful death, and traumatic brain injury. If you have been the victim of a personal injury, you may be entitled to compensation. But how much should you ask for in a personal injury settlement? And what are the factors that could affect a potential payout?

Determining Damages: What Are the Main Factors?

First and foremost, your personal injury lawyer will research your case and look at past verdicts and settlements in similar cases. The following items will be factored in to a potential settlement:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Therapy
  • Lost wages and/or future income

Your personal injury lawyer may also use a damages formula to determine how much to ask for in a personal injury settlement. Your lawyer will add up all incurred medical expenses and multiply the total by a number anywhere from 1.5 to 5. Add in the amount of lost income, and the resulting figure is the number at which you start negotiations. Of course, this provides a basic starting point, and there are other factors to consider, so it is best to discuss this option with your legal representative.

What Other Factors Can Affect the Settlement?

The points mentioned above are the guiding principles when it comes to a personal injury settlement, but there are certainly other factors that can affect the process, the negotiation, and the final number.

  • Insurance policy limits. In many cases, your settlement cannot exceed a predetermined figure as determined by the insurance company.
  • The extent of the injury and/or treatment. If an injury is especially painful, or if the rehabilitation or treatment will last for an extended amount of time, you may want to seek a higher settlement.
  • Going to trial. Juries are often hard to predict, so whether you settle out of court or go to trial can certainly affect the settlement. Many personal injury cases are settled before a trial is necessary.
  • Legal representation. Whether or not you have a personal injury lawyer can affect your settlement. A lawyer has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the process and navigate technical legal language. In most cases, those who have legal representation receive some sort of settlement.

Negotiation and Settlement: What You Need to Know

When it comes to a potential personal injury settlement, it is important to remember that negotiation is typically part of the process.

In some cases, your personal injury lawyer may want to introduce the idea of filing a lawsuit — even if that’s not something you intend to do. This, however, may expedite the settlement process since most businesses and organizations try to avoid going to court, if possible.

It is also important to understand that one potential outcome is that you will not receive any compensation for your personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Case Examples

Every personal injury case is different, but here is a sampling of some successful personal injury case outcomes:

Construction incidents

  • At a new home construction project, workers did not receive proper training on lifting a wall. As a result, a man was severely injured when a strong gust of wind forced the wall to the ground. The lawsuit filed on the worker’s behalf included claims of negligence, negligent supervision, and breach of contract. The client received $750,000 through private mediation right before going to trial.

Slip and fall cases

  • A client sustained a severe lower leg injury after falling on black ice at a commercial business. The man, whose information technology job required him to walk, could not work while recovering. The restaurant and its insurer denied responsibility and refused to pay his medical bills. The client received $112,500 from a jury verdict.
  • A woman was at a restaurant while traveling for a company-sponsored event. She sustained a personal injury as a result of the restaurant’s negligence, but her employer and the restaurant denied responsibility, claiming she was at the establishment for personal reasons. She received $112,500 from a lawsuit against the restaurant and her employer.

Dog bites

  • A delivery driver received $215,000 in workers’ compensation and injury claims after being attacked by a customer’s dog. The client required two surgeries and was unable to work. Sherman Law filed a lawsuit against the dog’s owner who denied responsibility and claimed the delivery driver was trespassing. The worker compensation case and personal injury case were resolved through private mediation.

Vehicle and motorcycle incidents

  • A man was injured when a driver behind him failed to stop and hit the rear tire of his motorcycle. The client was thrown from the bike and sustained severe trauma, including a traumatic brain injury. The motorcyclist had no insurance, and the driver of the car and her insurance company claimed the motorcyclist caused the accident. The man received $100,000 from the driver — the full amount from the insurance policy limit.
  • A man, who was a student at the time, was injured when a pickup truck pulling landscape equipment drove through a stop sign. The man was hospitalized and participated in a traumatic brain injury program and was therefore unable to continue school. The insurer for the pickup truck paid the entire liability policy amount. The injured man had underinsured motorist coverage, and his insurer denied that he received injuries that justified compensation beyond the truck driver’s policy. The man filed a lawsuit against his insurer alleging breach of contract. In the end, the man received $100,000 from the pickup truck driver’s insurance policy plus an additional amount that was deemed confidential.

Sexual assault

  • A minor student at a private school was sexually assaulted by a fellow student. The school and its supervisors denied responsibility, but all parties involved reached a confidential settlement.
  • An administrator/teacher at a public school solicited a minor student for a personal relationship. Communication included emails and text messages. Sherman Law filed a suit against the school and administrator and reached a confidential settlement through private mediation.

Please keep in mind that while these are examples of real cases Sherman Law has handled, they are offered for informational purposes. Every case has a different set of facts and circumstances, and past successes are not a guarantee or assurance of future settlements.

Protect Yourself: Seek a Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you think you have a personal injury claim and would like to receive advice about seeking compensation, it is important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you determine the best course of action.

Sherman Law has more than 25 years of experience providing professional advice and representation in personal injury cases. If you have questions about an injury or whether to pursue a personal injury compensation claim, contact us today for a free consultation.

John P. Sherman, Esq. opened his own firm in 2005 after rising through the ranks to become a partner at one of New Hampshire’s largest law firms. Today he applies his deep expertise in personal injury, employment law, construction law, and real estate law to provide strategic counsel to both businesses and individuals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. John holds a J.D. cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law and has a track record of successfully litigating cases in state and federal courts. Learn More »