How Are Settlement Amounts Calculated?
There is no hard and fast rule that dictates the calculation of a settlement amount; it will depend on a number of factors. The extent of the damages will play an important role. It is important to remember that the defendant is only responsible to compensate a plaintiff for the injuries and losses caused by the defendant. If someone missed work for one month, then their claim probably wouldn’t be worth as much as someone who missed work for a year.
For the amount of a plaintiff’s damages, we take into account three elements of damages: economic losses, non-economic losses, and physical impairment. Generally speaking, those are the categories of loss for which a plaintiff in Colorado is allowed to recover.
Economic losses are usually things that are more tangible and easier to calculate a specific dollar amount on, such as lost wages, medical bills or future medical bills. Non-economic losses include things like the loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, inconvenience and so forth. Rest assured that we know how to present cases to maximize the damages in all categories, especially the non-economic losses category. The degree of physical impairment will also play a role, such as scarring, disfigurement, loss of function, loss of use and chronic pain. If someone has a deficit from which they will never fully recover, then that deficit will be considered a physical impairment.
In addition to these factors, there are others that will come into play. For example, insurance companies will often look at what other similar injuries or other similar cases settled for. In my opinion, that is not always the best indicator because every case is different. Our job involves marshalling all available evidence on behalf of our clients and ensuring that we have the support of the treatment providers. If necessary, we may have to hire an accountant or an economist to present and calculate the amount of future wage loss or loss of earning capacity in the future. We want to put together this package in preparation of going to court and as a basis for settling a case for the highest possible value. When we feel like we have the best settlement offer that is likely to come from the insurance carrier, then there will be an evaluation process in terms of the risk of going forward to court. We always inform our clients in detail and they play an active role in those discussions.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Generally Paid Out?
There are a couple of different ways that personal injury settlements can be paid out. Generally, they are paid out in one lump sum. If it is a lifelong injury, then there may be periodic payments issued under a structured settlement. Oftentimes, a settlement that is paid out over time will involve a person who is under the age of 18. The simplest way to obtain a settlement is through a lump sum, meaning that the plaintiff would receive a set amount of money dependent upon their agreeance to dismiss the lawsuit or not bring one, to begin with.
Can I Reject A Settlement Offer?
A person can always reject a settlement offer. I am my clients’ agent, which means that the only authority I have is given to me by my clients. I cannot accept any settlement offers that are not approved by my clients. I can make recommendations to them and assess the risk of going forward to trial, but it is ultimately the client’s decision whether to accept or reject a settlement offer. We follow very strict guidelines and our rules of professional conduct require us to never settle a case without the client’s permission. In fact, no insurance company will pay any amount of money unless the client signs a specific release saying that they accept the money in settlement of their claims.
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