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Personal Injury Settlements in New York: Myths vs. Reality



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Personal injury cases resulting in multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements receive the most news coverage. Media coverage can make it seem like anyone can recover millions of dollars for a car accident, slip and fall, or other types of accidents.

However, the reality is that a party must have legal grounds to recover money for a personal injury claim. If you have grounds for a claim, you could recover compensation for damages. The amount you recover depends on the facts of your case.

We will discuss some of the myths about personal injury settlements in this blog. We want to help our clients understand their specific cases and have a realistic view of what they can expect for a personal injury settlement.

Personal Injury Settlements in New York: Myths vs. Reality

Factors That Can Increase the Value of a Personal Injury Case

Some personal injury cases are worth millions of dollars. Therefore, the verdicts and settlements are justified in those cases. But not every case is worth millions of dollars.

Factors that can increase the value of a personal injury claim include:

  • The wrongful death of a person
  • Traumatic and catastrophic injuries
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Significant disfigurement and scarring
  • Amputations, permanent brain damage, paralysis, or loss of bodily functions/organs

However, these are only some of the factors that impact the value of a personal injury claim. Other factors also impact how much money you can receive. Understanding those factors can help injured parties have a realistic view of their settlement.

Factors That Could Lower the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim

Just like factors might increase the value of your injury claim, other factors could lower the amount you receive for a personal injury settlement.

Fault and Liability for Damages

A significant factor that determines the value of a claim is fault. New York is a fault-based state for personal injury claims.

You must prove that the other party caused your injury to recover compensation for your damages. Therefore, if you do not have strong evidence proving fault, it could decrease the value of your claim.

Also, New York’s contributory negligence law states that an injured party’s compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault they have for the cause of their accident. In other words, if you have any blame for the cause of your injury, your compensation decreases by your percentage of the blame.

Availability of Insurance Coverage

Suing someone for a personal injury might not result in money. A person may not have sufficient assets to cover a personal injury judgment. Therefore, insurance coverage is important.

Liability insurance compensates injured parties for their damages. Unfortunately, liability insurance may not be sufficient to cover all your damages.

For example, the minimum auto liability insurance coverage required in New York is $25.000 for bodily injury and $50.000 for death. Those amounts apply to one person in an accident. The amounts double if two or more people are injured or killed in the accident.

Therefore, if the driver who hit you has minimum car insurance, the most you could receive for an insurance settlement would be $25.000. That amount might not compensate you for all losses.

Caps on Damages

Some states place caps on a person’s compensation for a personal injury lawsuit. Even though a jury returns a verdict for millions of dollars, the person might not receive the entire amount.

The good news is that New York does not have caps on personal injury settlements or verdicts. So you can receive the entire amount a jury awards for your case or negotiate any amount for a personal injury settlement agreement.

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What is a Fair Personal Injury Settlement?

A fair settlement amount for a personal injury claim is based upon all factors in your case. It is also based on all the ways an injury impacts your life.

Accidents and injuries impact your finances (economic damages). However, you also experience non-economic damages (pain and suffering).

Therefore, a fair settlement would include compensation for all damages. Examples of damages included in a personal injury settlement are:

  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Cost of medical treatment, including surgeries, medications, long-term nursing care, therapies, etc.
  • The expense of personal care and replacement of household services
  • Diminished earning potential and future lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses and costs
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical discomfort and pain
  • Disfigurement, disability, and impairment
  • Mental anguish and trauma
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Emotional distress

Calculating the value of a personal injury claim can be complicated. It is difficult to put a price on a person’s pain and suffering. Furthermore, a person’s suffering is unique to that person and based on numerous factors.

Another factor in determining the value of a personal injury settlement is whether you hire a personal injury lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer to handle your case ensures you have someone protecting your best interest. You have someone who understands the law, insurance companies, and the value of damages fighting on your side.