A South Carolina college student who was injured while on a missionary trip in Montana recently settled his case for the largest personal injury award in that state’s history. The student was involved in a car accident in 2009 that was caused by a fellow missionary. As a result, the student suffered serious brain injuries and was rendered a quadriplegic. Six years later, the student was awarded $26 million in damages as part of a settlement agreement with the religious group affiliated with the mission project and its insurers.
What Factors Go Into a Settlement Award or Jury Award?
For some, it may be confusing how one personal injury case can settle for millions of dollars and another case settles for so little that the injury victim barely gets enough compensation to cover his or her initial hospital visit. But there are a number of factors that can determine the amount for which a case will settle – or whether a case will settle at all.
- Strength of your case: If you have a case with strong evidence and believable witnesses supporting your claim, the negligent defendant is more likely to want to settle the case and for a higher amount.
- Time: Time is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, a defendant in a case that drags on for years may be incurring substantial legal fees and may be eager “just to get it over with.” However, time can also work against you if it causes witnesses to forget what they saw or if evidence is lost because of the passage of time.
- Similar settlements and judgments: Precedent is a powerful force in the legal world. If injury victims with injuries like yours typically receive a certain amount of compensation, there is a strong probability that your case will settle for a similar amount unless there are facts about your case that warrant a different amount.
- Your documented losses: The more you can document and verify your expenses (lost wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation, ongoing medical needs, etc.) the more likely you are to be able to receive these amounts in a settlement. Damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life are more speculative and defendants tend to want to pay as little for these amounts as possible.
- Ability to Pay: It is a simple fact of life that a defendant cannot pay money he does not have and will not have during the life of your judgment. A defendant’s wealth, income, assets, and the amount of insurance coverage are all factors that necessarily affect the amount of any possible settlement.
- Skill of your attorney: Part of a successful settlement involves having an attorney represent you who is skilled in representing personal injury victims in and out of court. Such an attorney is more likely to be able to highlight the strengths of your case and will know what facts may convince a defendant to settle your case rather than litigate it in court.
Greenville attorney David R. Price, Jr. has represented numerous personal injury victims and knows what it takes to win. He will vigorously represent your interests both in and out of court to help you get the compensation you need after a personal injury incident. Contact his office today at (864) 271-2636 to schedule your free consultation today.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.