Imagine that you’re shopping at a hardware store, and a tall display of tools collapses on you. You’re injured and facing weeks of recovery, hospital bills, lost work, and stress for your family.
It’s normal to feel bewildered by this kind of scenario. As you try to recover, you might wonder how to deal with the hardware store owner and whether you need a lawyer’s help. How do you even begin to calculate how much everything is going to cost?
Let’s take a closer look at how personal injury settlements are handled and how you can make sure you’re making the right decisions along the way.
First, let’s clear up a common misconception about settlements: they’re not lawsuits. Settlements are actually the opposite of lawsuits. Instead of suing, you’re coming up with a monetary amount that would prevent having to take the matter to court.
That’s a good thing, because lawsuits that go to trial can take several years to resolve. Just the process of preparing documents and interviewing witnesses – called discovery – can take six months to a year, and court dates are routinely delayed by weeks or months for bureaucratic reasons beyond your control.
Instead, settlements focus on quickly coming to an out-of-court agreement with another party. Settlements reimburse you for the costs you encountered, through no fault of your own, as the result of an injury or accident.
Making a Calculation
Calculating a settlement isn’t an easy task. There are many factors to consider. Here’s a short list of expenses you might encounter.
Medical bills. This is the sum total of your medical bills, even if they were covered by insurance. Or, if you didn’t seek medical help, this can be calculated by the days of pain you experience.
Projected medical bills. Will you require ongoing medical treatment? Add the projected cost of those bills too.
Loss of income. If you have been unable to work, add the cost of your lost wages. This includes the loss from using workplace benefits like paid time off (PTO).
Projected lost income. Will you continue to be unable to work? Add the value of projected lost work pay.
Property damage. If you experienced only bodily injury, this might not be a relevant cost. But if you were in an auto accident, you’ll have property damage to consider.
Pain and suffering. Don’t undervalue the ongoing pain and emotional impact of an accident or injury. It can be life-changing. In a settlement, it works as a multiplier to your agreement by multiplying the financial amount you receive.
Let’s go back to the injury scenario we explored earlier. How might this play out in the real world?
First, if you’re severely injured you’ll probably need to get immediate medical attention at the hardware store where you were injured. A trip to the hospital will include the cost of the on-scene treatment, ambulance, emergency room visit, specialist doctor consultations, overnight stay, and on and on. This could easily be, say, $15,000.
Right away, you’re missing work. Two weeks in the hospital might cost you $2,000 in lost pay, plus another $500 for future lost hours due to upcoming doctor visits.
Facing these costs, you’ll need to initiate contact with the hardware store owner. This is where hiring a lawyer is a crucial part of the process. While you focus on healing, a personal injury lawyer can handle all the details, contact the other party, and protect your best interests.
Perhaps during the process, your mental health professional sees that you are traumatized from the experience and will need therapy to recover fully. This would be critical information to share with your lawyer, who can add costs to your ongoing medical bills or use the pain and suffering multiplier.
Receiving Your Payout
In the example scenario, you’re facing at least $17,500 in medical costs and lost wages, which could be multiplied by 3 to account for your mental trauma. That’s $52,500. Your lawyer can help you calculate this settlement amount and negotiate with the store owner.
Reaching the payout point is often a tricky and awkward process for the layman, but a seasoned lawyer takes it in stride. After all, it’s their profession to resolve complex issues and make sure you’re protected.
If you’re facing mounting costs from a personal injury, reach out to a lawyer right away. Lusk, Drasites, & Tolisano has served southwest Florida since 1982 and knows how to resolve settlements quickly. Click here to start a free consultation now.