Personal Injury Cases Settlements
Car accidents come under the personal injury law rules in tort law. If you are involved in a car accident and believe that it was not your fault but a fault of the other person with whom the accident occurred, you can sue that person for personal injury damages. The damages you demand can be any medical bills, car repair bills and so on. However, the punitive damages will be awarded by the court based on the rules of the country where the case is being dealt with. Now, in case of an accident, there are several things to look at and then a few steps to follow to sue the person who caused the accident.
First of all, you must obviously see if you yourself were at fault or nor or if your fault caused the accident. In several instances, even if you are at fault, the accident does not occur due to that fault, but it might cause the jury to have a negative impression about you. Next on, you must see if the damages caused are material or not. If you are suing for a bare $20 to $50 worth of damage, it would be a foolish act as the legal charges will definitely be more than the damage caused to you. Then, the next thing you should see is if you are suing for damages to the car only or damages for your personal health and time too. The chances of winning the case will fall as you increase the damage claims because the higher the claims are, the less seriously will the jury follow your demand.
Now, if you have decided to sue the opposing party for damages, you must know the number of damages you will be seeking. Being involved in the accident will surely have caused you a lot of problems, financial and non-financial. And on top of that, if you learn that the settlement you accepted to wrap the case were not enough, you will surely be devastated. To counter against this problem, you must make sure that the settlement being offered is enough before you accept it.
How to know if your car accident settlement offer is enough?
To make sure you are accepting a fair settlement, you must first make calculations of the damages you should have received. Law firms and private attorneys usually use a set formula for the damages’ calculation. This formula sums up the following things to arrive at the total amount of damages that the plaintiff must seek from the defendants.
Medical expenses: This does not only include the money you paid out to cure your injuries. You might have suffered some medical problems due to the accident, but you might have not gone to the hospital to get it cured. In this case, you must figure out an approximate monetary value of the problems you have suffered. Adding to this, you might not yet have spent on the treatment but are likely to spend in the future. In that case, too, you must assess an estimated amount of money that you will be spending in the future and add it to the total damages.
Property damages: This includes the actual damage that has occurred to your car. You might have already spent the money on repairing your car and if you have not, you should assess the amount that would be spent in repairing it. It might also include other property damages that might have occurred due to the accident, for example, your watch might have broken.
Lost earnings: As a result of an accident, you might have been late to work, or the case might be that you could not go to work for a few days if you were bruised or mentally unwell. This can be calculated by multiplying your approximate time rate by the time you could not work.
Future Lost income: If you are disabled in some way due to the accident and would not be able to earn in the future due to that disability, the amount you will be forgiving will be added in the total damages too.
General damages: This usually includes the monetary value for the pain you have suffered, the time you wasted and the frustration you experienced as a result of the accident. These are usually difficult to access and difficult to be awarded by the court. In several countries, the courts do not award these damages as the monetary value of these damages do not have a set benchmark.
The next for you is to estimate the monetary value of your own fault in the accident and deduct it from the total damages calculated as above. If you have insurance, the damages you are awarded might be reduced. Furthermore, different countries have different laws and the damages are based on those laws.
Now, you must compare the damages calculated to the settlement you are offered to settle your car accident case. The amount might be the same or different. If the amount of settlement is less than the damages, you must ask for more from the opposing party.
To help you in these cases, it is always good to hire an experienced lawyer. The lawyer will have a better command over the laws and will also know the legal loopholes to get you the desired settlement offer. The lawyer will also have solved similar cases in the past and would know how to go about these cases and win them for their clients.
Do not be greedy
As mentioned earlier, courts will not take you seriously if you just act as if you are using this case to become a rich person. Do not be greedy and claim for unrealistic damages. People tend to go very far in calculating damages and end up getting nothing. In a similar instance, a plaintiff in the car accident case tried to claim damages of the problems his family faced due to his injuries and his car getting damaged. The court will surely deny the request more often than not.
Harris vs Time, Inc
In the popular case Harris vs Time, Inc, a similar situation arose where the court saw the plaintiff getting greedy and seeing the case proceedings as a golden chance of getting rich. The case started when a child named Joshua received an envelope from Time and it was mentioned on the envelope that he will get a free calculator watch upon opening the envelope. However, when Joshua’s mother opened the envelope, she found that there was no watch but an invitation to subscribe to the Fortune magazine and in return, a gift of calculator watch was to be given.
Joshua’s father sued Time, Inc for breach of contract and sought damages of $15 million for the sadness and anger caused to his son due to the breach of contract by Time, Inc. The court, although accepting it was a breach of contract, did not award any damages and claimed that the plaintiff’s case was ‘de minimis’ and the court was ‘disappointed’ that such a case appeared in their court. Looking at this case, people should not see a case as a chance to earn money and should not declare unrealistic damages.
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