How are settlements and awards determined?

settlements and awards

How much is my case worth?

We get this question every day, and there's no simple answer to it. The value of a personal injury settlement or award depends on the circumstances. Here are the main questions we ask to calculate the value of a settlement.

What's the extent of your damages?

The single biggest factors in the amount of a settlement or award for a personal injury claim are the extent of your injuries and the effects those injuries have had and will have on your life. A personal injury settlement or award should account for all of your losses resulting from the accident, including but not limited to:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Modifications to your vehicle or home, if needed to accommodate a disability

Broadly speaking, these damages fall into two categories: economic damages that can be tied to a specific dollar amount (like lost wages or medical bills) and non-economic damages that are more subjectively determined (like pain and suffering). Both types of damages represent real losses you have experienced, though, and both need to be taken into account. An experienced attorney will listen to your story and build a case for the full amount of compensation you need for your short-term and long-term losses.

How much insurance is available?

Liability insurance policies come with policy limits; that is, a maximum figure that the insurance company will pay. Depending on whether the at-fault party was an individual or a business, what type of policy they have, and how many people were injured in the same accident, there may be a practical limit on how much insurance is available to pay for your damages. In some cases, we're able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party's assets, but that is only possible if they have significant assets to take. (This is why it's smart to carry a healthy amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist protection on your car insurance policy.)

It can be exceptionally frustrating if you have a significant injury and the amount of available insurance is small. In those situations, we work very hard to coordinate coverage, reduce costs, creatively structure settlements, and otherwise find ways to help our clients recover as much as possible.

Is comparative negligence a factor?

When the injured person is partially responsible for their injuries, Maine uses a modified comparative negligence standard with a 50 percent bar to recovery. In simple terms, that means if you're partially at fault but less than 50 percent, you can still recover, but your recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are found 25 percent at fault, your recovery will be reduced by 25 percent. However, if you are 60 percent at fault, you generally cannot recover.

Of course, determining fault for an accident is a complex process. Just because an insurance company says something was your fault doesn't make it so. They have a financial incentive to blame the victim because that means they don't have to pay. We're on your side, and our investigation may find that you weren't at fault.

An attorney can fight to maximize your settlement

Statistically, people who hire an attorney recover far more in personal injury claims than those who do not. That's even with attorney's fees taken into account. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies and understand the tricks they use to pay injury victims less. We'll relentlessly advocate for your interests and protect your rights while you focus on healing.

If you've been injured due to negligence anywhere in Maine, contact the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today. We'd be happy to meet with you and explain your legal options in a free consultation.

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