Litigation is expensive – there is no denying that. A personal injury matter such as a construction or car accident claim can give a solo practitioner one or two years’ worth of work, depending on the complexity of the case. So, does the chance of recovering damages for your loss justify incurring legal fees for preparing depositions, discovery battles, and the troves of paperwork characteristic of a major personal injury lawsuit?
This article examines the costs and benefits regarding personal injury litigation and answers the million-dollar question: Are personal injury lawsuits worth hiring an attorney?
How Much Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit Worth?
To determine if a personal injury lawsuit is worth litigating, we need to know how much a personal injury lawsuit is worth.
If the defendant’s wrongful conduct injures the plaintiff, our civil justice system recognizes the plaintiff’s right to take enough money from the defendant to make the plaintiff “whole.” Thus, at a minimum, a personal injury case is worth the sum of the client’s medical expenses for treating any injury caused by the defendant’s wrongdoing. This includes bills for hospital treatment, chiropractic treatment, lab work, surgical procedures, MRI scans, and more.
However, most people have health and auto insurance policies that cover a significant portion, if not all, of the plaintiff’s healthcare expenses. Therefore many personal injury lawsuits that arise from car accidents involving private individuals will end with the plaintiff negotiating with their own insurance providers in addition to the defendant’s car insurance carrier.
Compensatory damages also include lost earnings. The plaintiff’s paystubs and work schedule can easily demonstrate this. However, sometimes a person may be entitled to recover lost future income and an amount that represents the plaintiff’s diminished earning capacity. An injury has to be particularly severe and disabling to warrant a damages award for future losses.
Damages awards also compensate the client for noneconomic harms such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. In wrongful death cases, the client may recover monetary damages that represent the emotional loss of losing a loved one.
How Does Your Attorney Get Paid?
Most personal injury attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t get paid unless the client recovers some amount of money.
Who Ultimately Pays?
In the end, the average personal injury car accident case can be worth between $20,000 to $100,000 in medical expenses and lost earnings. The average consumer’s car insurance might cover a driver’s liability for accidentally causing someone else’s bodily injury for somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000. If a claim applies to the defendant’s homeowners or renter’s liability insurance policy, the insurance company could pay between $100,000 to $300,000 in damages.
However, you can probably wave goodbye to your claim for pain and suffering or emotional distress damages during settlement negotiations with an insurance company. Also, if a plaintiff obtains a damages award, they may have to reimburse their insurance provider if they successfully received benefits for their injury.
As a result, the amount of damages associated with a personal injury claim involving a moderately severe car accident can probably be covered by the average person’s liability insurance policy.
If the defendant has the bare minimum amount of liability insurance coverage, and little income or assets, the defendant is considered to be “judgment proof” – meaning they couldn’t possibly have enough wealth to satisfy a judgment against them for damages.
However, personal injury cases that involve severely disabling injuries or death can jump in value, depending on the circumstances. A wealthy parent or spouse who is disabled or killed in an accident with another individual will likely end in an insurance claim for the at-fault driver’s full liability policy limits.
The average driver’s policy may pay out between $10,000 and $100,000 for injuries to a single person. The family might be able to collect benefits from the decedent’s insurance company to cover reasonable medical and funeral expenses. This can also range from $15,000 to $100,000. In the end, a wrongful death suit where the defendant is a private individual may net about $100,000 from the defendant’s auto insurance company.
If a person was disabled or killed in an accident with a commercial truck, the truck company’s insurance might pay up to $1,000,0000 to settle the claim. That would probably be more than enough to cover the deceased driver’s hospital bills (if any) and the family’s funeral expenses. However, a wrongful death suit that goes to trial could involve a sympathetic jury that agrees with the plaintiff’s calculation of future damages, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress damages. That amount would far exceed the $1,000,000 insurance limits. Assuming the jury awards the family $3.5 million, the truck company would have to pay the family $2.5 million out of pocket.
Call an Experienced Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney
Not sure if you have a potential personal injury claim? Contact a knowledgeable Kansas City personal injury lawyer from DiPasquale Moore. We offer personalized legal services custom-tailored to fit your individual needs. Our experienced attorneys will gladly answer questions you may have regarding the strengths and potential challenges of your case at no charge!
To schedule your free initial consultation, call (816) 888-7500 or contact us online today!