When you have sustained serious injuries as a result of an accident where the other party was at fault even the thought of a long drawn out court case can be somewhat daunting. This is why so many claimants choose to settle before the case goes to court. You know the other party is insured but you likely do not know how much, and the doctors who treated you for your accident-related injuries are willing to testify on your behalf. Feeling yourself in a good position to be granted a reasonable settlement you now have to negotiate with the liable party’s insurance company.
There are two main factors affecting the likelihood of a satisfactory pre-suit settlement agreement being reached. These are: 1) how severe your injuries are and 2) how much insurance is available to cover those injuries.
When a claimant is seeking a settlement in a personal injury case, they will be asking for reasonable compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. The extent and seriousness of the injuries often involve mounting expenses during recovery. Serious injuries usually result in an inability to work also, so the claimant faces the loss of work income. These injuries also include some element of pain and suffering.
Let’s use a slip and fall injury as an example. A customer at a grocery store slips and falls, injuring her wrist. She is taken to the emergency room where she is treated for a sprain. She may or may not be able to return to work the next day depending on the type of work she undertakes. At worst she is likely to only require a day or two to allow the sprain to begin the healing process before normal duties can be resumed.
Now let’s compare the previous incident to one in which a man is rear-ended by a drunk driving while commuting from his workplace to his home. He is taken to hospital by ambulance where it is discovered that he has sustained multiple fractures and a head injury that has caused a brain bleed. He is admitted and is going to require round-the-clock observation to ensure the brain bleed doesn’t worsen. After he has recovered sufficiently to be moved to a rehabilitation unit he will receive assistance to walk again.
Obviously, the medical costs and loss of income from not being able to work are substantially more in the second scenario. The pain and suffering in the second scenario far outweigh that experienced by the slip and fall victim. Despite the injuries in the first scenario being significantly less, both settlements hinge upon how much insurance there is to claim against.
Insurance companies are only required to settle up to the limit of the policy so if there are extensive injuries but the policy coverage is low there is very likely to be a big gap between the expenses incurred in recovery and the amount the insurance company will pay out in the settlement. Regardless of the expenses incurred as a result of injury, the liable party’s insurance company will only make the settlement to the maximum amount of the policy.
In the case of the slip and fall victim it is very likely that the grocery store owner held sufficient coverage to make settlement easily, but if the drunk driver in the second scenario had very little coverage, the claimant will only receive the maximum amount of the policy and will likely face dealing with expenses far and above the settlement amount. In the second case, the claimant may need to go to the liable party for the rest of the expenses incurred not covered by their policy. How successful the claimant will be in receiving full compensation will largely depend upon the assets held by the liable party.
For more information about insurance policies and personal injury claim settlements, talk to Rodney K. Okano today.