If you’ve been injured in Kansas City or Springfield, Missouri, you know how important it is to fight for the maximum value of your accident case. But what may be less apparent is how every individual factor of your case influences its total value, from the medical care you receive to the evidence you gather. But you don’t have to perform these tasks alone – your personal injury attorney will work by your side and advocate on your behalf.
Ask a Personal Injury Attorney in Springfield, Missouri: What Is the Average Settlement in a Personal Injury Case in Kansas City?
If you were injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence, you are legally entitled to pursue compensation. You have this right for one simple reason: the U.S. justice system is designed to restore you to the condition you were in before the accident. This unfortunately is not possible for some people, but a monetary settlement can bring much-needed relief. The damages you may be entitled to recover include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
With that said, it’s impossible to give an average settlement figure for a personal injury case. Various factors will influence the value of your claim, including the seriousness of your injuries (more on this momentarily). Your injuries also directly impact your medical bills and lost wages, both of which are relatively easy to calculate because they’re based on precise documentation. Pain and suffering, on the other hand, require more extensive thought.
Calculating Pain and Suffering
No legal formula exists for calculating pain and suffering under the laws in Kansas City or Springfield, Missouri. Instead, they are determined by subjective criteria. The amount you may receive is therefore uncertain and likely to vary significantly from case to case. In a trial, pain and suffering are decided by a jury and subject only to limitations imposed by state law.
Different Settlement Approaches
For settlement purposes, your attorney might use one of two calculating methods. The first is to multiply your actual damages – like lost wages and medical bills – by a number that’s usually between one and five. The multiplier depends on the severity of your injuries. To illustrate, if you incur $3,500 in medical bills because of a broken arm, your attorney might multiple this figure by three and determine $10,500 is a fair amount for pain and suffering.
Alternatively, your lawyer may use a per diem (Latin for per day) approach to assigning a dollar figure to each day you’ve been injured. Your lawyer will start with the day of your accident and continue to calculate until you’ve reached maximum recovery. Again, the dollar figure – such as $100 – will vary depending on the severity of your injuries.
The Role of the Insurance Company
Insurance companies have no obligation to honor the calculations your lawyer provides and may instead use their own. Many rely on computer programs that help them determine what settlement offer should be made for pain and suffering. These programs consider the type of injury as well as the medical treatment sought.
To illustrate, treatment provided by a physician usually signifies a more serious injury than treatment from a chiropractor. Insurance companies also take into account the length of time treatment was needed.
Caps on Non-Economic Damages
The Missouri Supreme Court does cap non-economic damages. Pain and suffering fall under this category, whereas medical bills and lost wages are considered economic damages. The limits imposed by the Court are $400,000 for personal injury cases and $700,000 for catastrophic personal injury.
Factors That Influence Your Personal Injury Claim
The insurance company, as you might have expected, does more than weigh in on pain and suffering damages. An adjuster assigned to your case will negotiate with your personal injury attorney to reach a recompense figure everyone is comfortable with. Each insurance adjuster handles negotiations a little differently. Trying to predict how they’ll react ahead of time is difficult at best.
We can, however, tell you that adjusters are trained to keep money within the insurance company. This means they’ll likely try to diminish the value of your accident claim. The total limit of the at-fault party’s insurance policy will also factor into the amount of damages you can seek. If the policy does not cover your total losses, you may need to file a personal lawsuit to pursue compensation from the at-fault party’s personal assets.
The Seriousness of Your Injuries
Earlier, we mentioned the severity of your injuries will impact the value of your claim. This is true from a medical bill perspective as well as any permanent changes made to your life. To illustrate, if your injuries cause disfigurement, scarring, or disability, the value of your claim will be significantly higher than that involving only minor injuries.
Now is also a good time to mention that no case should be settled until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. You need to understand exactly how much your medical bills are going to be before you agree to a settlement. Otherwise, you may not receive the full compensation to which you are entitled – and which you’ll need to stabilize yourself and your family.
The Property Damage Severity
Property damage is a common component of personal injury claims, especially for vehicle accidents. You can therefore expect the total value of all property damage from an accident to be factored into the value of your personal injury claim.
The Availability of Evidence
Throughout your case, you’ll need to work with your personal injury attorney to collect evidence that supports the total value of your claim. Evidence will also need to be gathered that proves the liability of the other party. Without proper evidence – including the police report, witness statements, and photos of the accident – you may struggle to receive adequate compensation.
On the other hand, cases in which the other party is clearly at fault tend to see higher settlement figures. Your Kansas City attorney can add the most value to your case by effectively removing any questions of liability. And this demands a strong compilation of appropriate evidence.
Whether Or Not You’re Able to Work
This concept relates to lost wages, but there are varying degrees to which accident victims may or may not be able to work. In your case, you may not be able to work at all while you recover but plan to return to your position as soon as you’re able. Or perhaps you can work but not in the same capacity as before the accident, resulting in a lower income. The point is you need to be compensated for lost income, and this will greatly affect your claim.
Attention From the Media
If your case is worthy of publicity, you can expect to see an increase in its value. Here’s why: defendants do not want the white-hot scrutiny of the press, especially if they are relatively well-known. A city council member, for instance, who causes a serious car accident will not want the media involved with the case. Your settlement figure may therefore increase to keep the case out of court.
Calculating personal injury settlements in Springfield, Missouri, and elsewhere is not an exact science. But understanding those factors that can affect the value of your case will help you better understand the legal process itself. We’re here to not only answer your questions but also provide reliable representation. Schedule your consultation today by contacting Potts Law Firm.