If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim against a party you believe acted negligently and caused your injuries, one of your primary concerns likely revolves around the possibility of reaching a settlement and receiving the compensation you need.
Understanding how settlements are distributed can seem confusing, but when you work with our law firm, we’ll make sure you understand what you’re entitled to and how you can work towards receiving it.
Damages Included in Personal Injury Settlements
As your lawyer will explain to you, there are two categories of damages you can seek with a personal injury claim. Understanding those categories and how they apply to your unique situation will give you an idea of what you can expect when it comes to the settlement you’re offered.
The first category is compensatory. These damages seek to reimburse you for the harm you suffered. They’re available in almost all personal injury cases, including car accidents, premises liability, and nursing home abuse. Compensatory damages are further broken down into two categories: special and general.
Special compensatory damages cover the monetary expenses you incurred as a result of your injury. They vary greatly and are directly calculable. The most common types of losses that are covered under this category include medical expenses, lost wages, future loss of earnings, cost of future medical care, property damage costs, and household expenses.
General compensatory damages cover noneconomic losses. They are referred to as general because they address the harm that’s typically sustained with an injury. Common types include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. Determining the total is more challenging because it’s not based on specific monetary amounts. Instead, your attorney will use similar cases as examples and take the total of your economic damages into account.
The second category of damages is punitive. These are not always available to the injured party because they’re reserved for scenarios where the actions or inactions of the defendant were reprehensible or grossly negligent.
Collecting Your Personal Injury Compensation
If you settle your personal injury case pre-litigation or at mediation during litigation prior to a trial, the insurance carrier of the negligent driver will provide a release of all claims. The release, one of the most important documents, is prepared by the opposing party and sent to your lawyer. After your attorney receives it, they’ll carefully review the terms and determine what’s acceptable. Depending on the complexity, this could take hours or days. Once an agreement is reached and you fully understand what’s next, you’ll sign the paperwork.
Within a few weeks, your lawyer will receive the settlement check in the mail. In most cases, the insurance company will make the check out to you and the law firm that represented you. Even though the money covers a multitude of expenses, it will be in one lump sum. In some cases, however, the insurance company will want to pay the health insurance company or hospital directly. If that’s the case, your lawyer will receive two checks.
Once the check is received, it’s normally only a matter of days until you receive your compensation. The check is deposited into a trust account. From that, your lawyer will start by taking out the legal fees and costs you agreed upon at the beginning of your legal journey. Many personal injury cases operate on a contingency fee basis, so that amount will go to the law firm. Your lawyer will also take care of paying any third-parties, like expert witnesses. Finally, you’ll receive the portion that remains. With that compensation, you can take care of the expenses and losses we discussed above and move forward into the future knowing you have what you need to make a full recovery.
It’s important to note that most personal injury claims settle outside of court through negotiations. In the event of a particularly complex case, it may be necessary to involve a judge and jury. While they’ll decide the amount of money you receive, the distribution process is similar in that we will receive the check and handle payments for you, before you receive the final amount.
Now that you have a general understanding of how personal injury case settlements are distributed, you can feel more confidently moving forward with legal action for your own injuries. The Law Office of Todd W. Burris is here for Lexington residents who have been wronged. To file a claim and seek compensation for your losses, contact our office today. The sooner you reach out to us, the better your chances are of receiving full and fair compensation.