Updated: Mar 4
Everything You Need To Know About How Settlements Are Calculated
It's an inconvenient fact that, at any moment, everyone can face personal injury. While it would definitely not alleviate the tension, discomfort, lost opportunities, and other effects of a personal injury, in situations where the injury was due to the negligence of another individual, you might be entitled to compensation.
Trial vs Settlement
Judges prefer out of court settlements in personal injury litigation in the vast
majority of cases, and personal injury lawyers will usually lobby for this as well. Reasons for this may differ, but it's generally because courts are much more costly and exhausting compared to an out-of-court settlement for those involved.
Trials are also far less predictable than settlements. Comparative fault rules for auto accidents are enforced by California, meaning that more than one person involved may be held financially responsible for the accident. Furthermore, even though they are found to be at fault, victims of an accident are not barred from receiving compensation for damages.
This means that even though the opposing driver were found to be primarily responsible for the crash, you will also pay 20 percent of the award for damages in the case of a settlement. During a trial, the figures agreed on by a judge could be even
be substantially less, and an attorney should never risk getting anything less than the maximum award possible.
When negotiating an out of court settlement, you have a far better chance of a favorable result in a timely manner. For a settlement, there is no real "average" number because they are calculated by such a wide range of variables, but there are plenty of steps you can take as a consumer to maximize the settlement award. The statute of limitations of California will give you two years to file a lawsuit after the accident.
It 's critical to seek urgent medical attention after an accident for your own safety and recovery. This serves a double function if you think you may have a case of personal injury. Beyond reasonable doubt, obtaining medical care would show that any injuries suffered were simply a result of the accident rather than any other cause.
It will also encourage you to start planning your medical records immediately. To keep these documents up to date, follow any prescribed therapies and attend follow-up appointments. Among the most precise forms of sabotaging a personal injury case are inconsistencies in medical reports.
Collecting Evidence After An Accident
You'll want to bring as much relevant details as possible to your initial appointment with an attorney following your medical care. Fortunately, with personal injury situations, most operate on a contingency basis, so you'll have no problems finding legal assistance as long as you conduct due diligence when searching for a personal injury lawyer. (we'll get to that later)
Any video or photographic proof of the accident scene that you can provide would be extremely helpful. Photographing the surrounding area and any signs, collateral damage, or other marks, even though you do not have proof of the accident itself, will provide useful supportive information about the case. In addition to your medical history, any accident / police reports would be helpful, as well as any statements or contact details for willing witnesses.
Two Standard Methods For Measuring Pain And Suffering.
There is no single clear rule on how insurance providers can seek to measure settlement awards for pain and suffering. Indeed, it can be something of a 'black box' to value intangible harm like pain and suffering. How insurers come to their estimates in settlement proposals may be difficult to grasp. However, there are two general approaches used to measure pain and harm as a baseline:
The Multiplier Method: The overall economic losses (medical costs, missed income, etc.) are measured as a reference number using the multiplier method. To measure pain and suffering, a multiplier is then chosen. For example, if a victim of a car accident has $10,000 in economic damages and a multiplier of '2' has been chosen for their pain and suffering, then $20,000 will be calculated for their pain and suffering.
The Per Diem Rule: In the per diem rule, once the survivor has completely recovered from their injury, a dollar figure for pain and suffering is assigned for each day. For example, if a per diem sum of $100 was chosen, and the victim took 100 days to achieve full medical recovery, then $10,000 would be valued for pain and suffering damage.
Note: Under California law (California Civil Code 3333.4), reimbursement of compensation for pain and suffering is forbidden for certain motorists. Specifically, it might be difficult for uninsured drivers to make a claim for pain and suffering.
Intangible Damages Are Frequently Undervalued
You need to know how to deal with insurance adjusters if you have been involved in a car accident. In situations where the victim of an accident has sustained serious injuries or suffered significant pain and suffering, this is extremely important. Justice demands that such injuries be completely and adequately accounted for by the victim. Sadly, insurance firms typically concentrate on maintaining their own bottom line.
Are Pain And Suffering Settlements Taxable?
Generally, a settlement or cash payout is excluded from taxes on a personal injury claim for a bodily injury or illness. Some exceptions apply, however. Some cases of personal injury can linger for months or even years until some sort of financial recovery is seen by a plaintiff. In the meantime, their medical costs and other economic problems must usually be handled on their own. Those medical costs would no longer count as tax-exempt in the following years if a plaintiff were to take an itemized deduction for medical expenses in previous years. In turn, this will be "double-dipping" on a tax gain.
The settlement or case award is tax-exempt if an applicant seeks a cash award or settlement for a physical injury or illness but has not already taken any itemized deductions for those expenses. If part of the medical expenses of the applicant occurred during the preceding tax year and the applicant sought an itemized deduction, the applicant would use a pro rata calculation to assess his or her tax responsibility for the balance of the medical expenses incurred during the preceding tax year.
In the same scenario, the tax-exempt status for qualifying for physical illness or disability includes all similar types of compensation. For instance, if a plaintiff secures compensation for pain and suffering due to his or her physical injury or sickness, such awards will also be tax-exempt.
When Taxes Become An Issue
Some lawsuits for personal injuries include specific claims for other types of damages. A plaintiff, for example, may file a lawsuit against a defendant for breach of contract and personal injuries associated with it. To decide the reasonable amount of damages associated with each lawsuit, the plaintiff and the plaintiff's attorney must work together to avoid any surprises.
Often, if the plaintiff secures a settlement or cash compensation, the plaintiff's personal injury lawyer can request a breakdown of the damages of the plaintiff and on which claims they relate. The tax exemption includes only damages and payments received for bodily injury and negligence-induced illnesses.
Missing wages also qualify under all existing laws for taxation. For example, if a claimant secures compensation for a year's worth of missed employment, the claimant will also be expected to report the proceeds in their tax declaration because they are legally considered as taxable income.
Who Should I Hire To Represent Me In A Personal Injury Case?
The single and most important decision after an accident is hiring a competent, reliable and ethical personal injury lawyer. Most people are lured by fancy websites, TV and radio commercials when choosing a lawyer. In some cases, they find out the lawyer has a history of unethical behavior and poor performance months after hiring the lawyer.
When selecting a personal injury lawyer, you must do your homework and check the lawyer's credentials, reviews, education and verify experience. You can also get an unbiased lawyer referral by a State Bar accredited personal injury lawyer referral service.