Everything you need to know to get maximum compensation for your personal injury claim
People who are injured by someone else’s negligence may file a personal injury claim in civil court against the other party. The party who files the claim is the plaintiff, and the one who is accused of causing the plaintiff’s injury is the defendant.
Civil courts do not determine guilt or send people to jail or prison. Instead, they determine who was at fault, and they award compensation to the injured party.
Many people assume that personal injury claims typically result in a civil trial. On the contrary, more than 90% of personal injury claims are settled outside of court.
Personal injury settlements are often advantageous for plaintiffs because they result in faster resolution. During the settlement process, the plaintiff’s attorney usually has more control over the process, as opposed to a trial, which leaves the outcome to a judge and possibly a jury.
Parties in a personal injury lawsuit
The plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is most often an everyday person who was directly injured or the surviving family members of someone who was killed in a personal injury accident. Most plaintiffs contact a personal injury lawyer to offer counsel and provide legal representation throughout the civil court process.
The defendant is often represented by an insurance company. Property owners, businesses and everyday drivers are generally required to carry liability insurance to provide legal representation and financial coverage to victims if the insured is legally responsible for an accident.
Insurance companies employ corporate attorneys to handle all personal injury claims and settlements. Because the insurance company will always be represented by a legal professional, plaintiffs should always consult a qualified personal injury attorney prior to accepting an insurance settlement offer or filing a personal injury claim in court.
The biggest pharmaceutical settlement in history
Pharmaceutical settlements rank among the personal injury cases with the highest payouts. The biggest personal injury settlement payout by a pharmaceutical company was issued by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2012, in which a U.S. district court ordered the pharmaceutical drug manufacturer to pay $2 billion to resolve civil liabilities for deceptive marketing.
The drugs involved included Advair, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Zofran and Lamictal. GSK promoted the medications for off-label uses and offered kickbacks to physicians who prescribed the drugs. The major pharmaceutical manufacturer also failed to report safety data for Avandia and filed false reports with the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program.
Determining the value of a personal injury claim
Perhaps the most common question a personal injury attorney receives is: How much is my case worth?
The truth is there is no simple answer to this question because every case is different. Nevertheless, there are certain factors that directly impact the potential value of a case.
The defendant’s assets
The defendant’s assets may limit the size of a potential settlement. Plaintiffs are more likely to win large settlement amounts from defendants who have the means to pay.
The ability to pay may come from the defendant’s personal assets or from the defendant’s insurance company if the personal injury is covered by the defendant’s policy. Attorneys generally advise plaintiffs to consider the amount of compensation a defendant can pay before accepting or rejecting a settlement offer.
Potential personal injury damages
There are several types of compensation that may be available through a personal injury lawsuit. These damages include:
- Economic damages. Plaintiffs are generally allowed to claim damages for the economic losses they suffered from their accident, including medical bills, lost income and other financial losses (such as property loss).
- Non-economic damages. If the accident caused severe physical injury or mental or emotional trauma, the plaintiff may be entitled to emotional damages.
- Punitive damages. Defendants who behave egregiously may be ordered to pay punitive damages to penalize and discourage future bad behavior. Punitive damages are ultimately awarded to the plaintiff, though they are not based on the monetary amount of the plaintiff’s losses.
Gathering evidence to support a personal injury claim
There are several ways an attorney can gather evidence to support a personal injury claim.
- For car accident claims, the attorney may access police reports or enlist the services of accident reconstructionists.
- Premises liability claims may require photo evidence of the condition of the premises or maintenance records.
- Many different types of personal injury claims are supported by eyewitness testimony.
- Cases that require industry-specific or technical knowledge may require expert testimony.
It’s always better to contact an attorney prior to pursuing a personal injury claim. South Carolina personal injury attorneys have access to professional resources that can help a plaintiff establish his or her case.
Negotiating a personal injury settlement amount
In determining a settlement amount, the plaintiff’s attorney and the defendant research similar cases to see how much juries have awarded plaintiffs in the past. They send settlement offers and demand letters back and forth while evaluating their likelihood of prevailing at trial.
Once both sides agree on a settlement amount, they will sign a settlement agreement. The plaintiff will sign a release ending the legal claim by accepting the settlement amount.
As the plaintiff, please be aware that if you accept an offer that is too low, you will not be permitted to pursue the matter further to receive additional financial compensation once the agreement is signed.
Contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney
Personal injuries can have several causes, including accidents, defective products, medical errors and dangerous drugs. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone else’s negligent behavior, contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney.
They will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and advise you of your legal options. Never accept a settlement offer from the party who caused your injury without contacting an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
at Chappell, Chappell and Newman, our experienced personal injury attorneys will work to get you the maximum payout for your medical expenses and other financial damages. We’ve been successfully fighting big corporations and insurance companies for more than 30 years to help people get the compensation they deserve after an accident or injury. Let us help you get started with your claim today.
Call us today for a free case evaluation.