How Much Should I Ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement?

When a personal injury lawyer, on behalf of a plaintiff, files a lawsuit against a negligent driver, property manager, dog owner, or other defendant, that plaintiff may decide to accept a settlement. In fact, the majority of personal injury cases are resolved through settlement deals, rather than with a jury verdict at the conclusion of a trial. A personal injury settlement is an arrangement that both the plaintiff and defendant may decide to accept. If it’s accepted, the plaintiff agrees to drop the lawsuit in exchange for the defendant’s payment of a set sum of money.

Of course, before you can decide whether or not to accept a personal injury settlement, you need to consider how much your lawsuit is worth. Every case is different. It’s in your best interests to speak with a personal injury lawyer before deciding upon an appropriate course of action. Your lawyer will evaluate your case to determine a reasonable settlement amount. Note that accident victims tend to receive a much higher settlement amount if they hire a lawyer.

Add up your monetary losses

A personal injury demand letter can request compensation for your actual losses. These can include your medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages, and any other losses that directly stem from the incident. It’s important to keep track of all of your losses after the incident. Preserve your medical bills, pharmacy receipts, collision repair estimates, and any other documentation that proves you have lost money due to someone else’s negligence. Your personal injury lawyer will need copies of all of these documents in order to prepare your demand letter to request compensation.

Evaluate your non-economic losses

The calculable monetary losses are referred to as economic losses. Non-economic losses are less tangible. They include things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement. In general, the more severe a person’s injuries are, the more money that plaintiff can expect to receive for these non-economic losses. In addition, plaintiffs can generally request more money for non-economic losses due to the following factors:

  • There was a very long recovery period.
  • The plaintiff required an invasive medical treatment, or medical treatments that were ongoing and lasted a long time.
  • The injuries were particularly painful.
  • There were obvious physical signs of the injury.
  • The injuries were serious and/or resulted in permanent physical alterations (e.g. disfigurement or permanent disability).

To put this into perspective, a plaintiff who lost a limb in an accident can generally expect to receive a higher settlement than a plaintiff who suffered minor lacerations and bruises.

Understanding the special damages formula

Insurance adjusters follow a company formula when determining how much to offer for non-economic damages. They will then add economic damages to the result of that formula. Insurance companies don’t make their formulas public. However, their formulas involve multiplying the amount of “special damages” (for pain and suffering, etc.) by 1.5 to three for relatively minor injuries. For more severe injuries, the special damages may be multiplied by as much as five. Your personal injury lawyer will follow a similar formula to determine how much to demand on your behalf.

Ask for more than what you think you’ll get

Remember that a personal injury settlement agreement is the result of a negotiation. In order to achieve favorable results in any negotiation, it’s necessary to start with a higher number than what you hope to get. There’s no precise formula, but it’s generally recommended that personal injury plaintiffs ask for about 75% to 100% more than what they hope to receive. In other words, if you think your lawsuit might be worth $10,000, ask for $17,500 to $20,000. It’s generally best not to ask for more than that, as the negotiations might stall.

Speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case

Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Sean Salamati of the Salamati Law Firm has provided vigorous legal representation to clients in California for two decades. Our results-driven approach optimizes our clients’ chances of securing maximum compensation for their injuries and other losses. If you would like to know how much your personal injury lawsuit could be worth, you can call today to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation case review with a seasoned personal injury lawyer.