Before we go any deeper into the topic, let us make one thing clear: no one knows for sure how much a case costs, not even an experienced personal injury attorney, or how long it will take for the case to settle. Why? Because the details of each personal injury claim are different.
For instance, the location of the accident, the parties involved, the extent of damage, nature of injuries, and the compensation sum involved can never be the same for two different cases. Thus the expectations for the financial settlement should also be different.
This means that the personal injury claims and settlement amounts in Massachusetts are not constant but instead change depending on the exact details of every situation. Being a personal injury victim, you may be bombarded with questions in your mind, and in this article, we will answer them all.
Just be sure to hire experienced lawyers to represent you if you wish to maximize the payout and make the wait worth it – and yes, there will be a wait.
Calculating Personal Injury Settlements
Let’s dive straight into the calculations; for the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume that your case involves lots of damage with no fault of your own, thus there is no shared liability. Massachusetts though primarily a no-fault insurance state, does allow you to sue the liable party if your damages were severe.
In this hypothetical scenario for an average person and average auto liability (the same principle applies to medical malpractice, and so on), we’ll assume that this is indeed the case.
There is no “one-fix-for-all” type of deal here, all situations are different and unique, the article is meant to highlight the general pattern for how these things work (in an average car accident settlement) instead of presenting a case study.
So, if you feel like your case does not fit the description, that’s okay.
Just be sure to contact a competent personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to get started right away with the compensation part. The types of damages you can claim under Massachusetts state law for personal injury claims are as follows:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
#1) Economic Damages
These are pretty simple to calculate, and yes that’s all that you have to do: sum up a couple of numbers. Personal injury cases can pressurize victims via medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and extra expenses/special damages.
Summing up all of these costs will give you the sum of your economic losses. The number is not constant and instead depends on the intensity of the crash, and of course, lawyers also must factor in the long-term costs.
For instance, if your medical care seems to drag on even after some recovery, then the lawyer will factor in the costs for future medical treatment and inflation rates to give a fair estimate for the economic damages.
#2) Non-Economic Damages
The financial side of things is only one half of the story, personal injury cases can cause severe physical pain and emotional distress as well. There is no way to put a number on these sufferings because they can’t be measured on any scale and only the sufferer can feel the intensity.
Moreover, the sensitivity of the injured person is also a factor here. Examples of such losses included intense pain due to physical injuries, traumatic brain injury, burn injury, loss of hearing, loss of enjoyment of life (i.e. due to a knee injury, etc.), long-term mental anguish due to loss of consortium (wrongful death), and so on.
However, some methods have been put into place to give some monetary value to these damages.
The simplest of the lot is the per diem method which equates the value of pain and suffering per day with that of the daily wage of the sufferer This way, the victim can claim compensation for the duration of their pain and suffering, instead of the intensity because the value caps at their daily wage limit.
The most effective and widely used method, however, is the multiplier method in which the lawyer simply assigns a multiple ranging between 1.5 and 5 to the financial losses based on the intensity of the crash. The resultant figure then becomes the total compensation demand which is usually around three times the economic loss value.
Just get an experienced attorney on board for a fair case evaluation; an injury settlement calculator will help you sum up your losses to be presented before the at-fault insurance company.
#3) Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are usually assigned to punish the at-fault party for gross negligence or any mal-intent, however, in Massachusetts, this is only true if the liable party committed a wrongful death action. Thus the possibility of someone winning punitive damages only exists if the incident/automobile accident was extremely severe and resulted in the death of the victim.
Just a PS, only a court of law may assign punitive damages to the plaintiffs.
Where To Get The Settlement From?
As noted earlier, Massachusetts has no-fault automobile insurance laws, which means that an insurance carrier will have to, primarily, seek compensation from their own insurance policy. The personal injury protection insurance coverage should be enough to help you with minor compensatory damages (expenses and medical bills) as per the insurance limit.
However, the state does allow you to demand compensation from the liable party if your losses exceed $2,000 in the categories described above. If that is indeed the case, you can seek compensation via fair settlement negotiations, or you may file a lawsuit if need be.
Thus the no-fault stance of Massachusetts is not strictly applied, be sure to call an experienced accident lawyer as soon as possible for legal consultation.
Average Bodily Injury Settlement Amounts
The minimum figure, as we noted in the previous section should be $2,000, however, this is only the threshold amount. Actual settlements can be much higher than this. There is no exact amount for personal injury cases in general because the details of each case vary.
However, if you get lawyers involved and stick in there for just long enough, you can claim anywhere between a couple of thousand dollars to a hundred thousand or even more depending on the severity of your losses (i.e. permanent injuries and severe losses will get you more in return as well).
This is true for an average auto accident settlement and other personal injury cases as well.
Contact a lawyer for a fair estimate of the monetary value of your case.
Relation Between The Settlement Amount & Time Needed
The settlement of personal injury insurance claims, as mentioned earlier, does not follow a strict pattern or timeline. Minor cases may come to a resolution even as quickly as a couple of weeks because they involve only small payouts.
However, as the stakes are raised, the time needed for the resolution of an injury claim settlement also increases.
This means that you could be spending over a year, or perhaps even more for your case if it is a major one. Cases with higher payouts and greater negligence (i.e. if the sum exceeds a couple of thousand dollars) are those that demand the most time for due scrutiny before coming to an end.
On average, personal injury claims limited to soft tissue injuries take around six months to settle, but if you bring lawyers on board and demand a fair and structured settlement then the insurance adjuster may delay things on purpose to force you to settle for a smaller sum.
But do keep this in mind: your settlement sum, without the involvement of lawyers, will be nominal at best. The quick settlement trap is used more often than you think to exploit the impatience and financial sensitivity of accident victims to avoid paying what is actually due.
In short: having your case drag on a bit may not be the worst thing, except only if friction is due to some technicalities in which case it is best to solve the issue and make things smoother.
How Can Hiring A Lawyer Affect Things?
Like it or not, hiring a lawyer is likely to make your settlement take longer than otherwise. However, the wait will be worth it if you want to claim maximum compensation, which would not be possible otherwise.
Quick settlements can happen without legal counsel but the payout is minimal at best, and it is never a good idea for you to pursue your bodily injury claim on your own. The adjuster will try to use the incongruencies in your narrative to downplay your claims for pain, suffering, and other difficulties.
You can also expect them to get you to admit part of the blame even if you were not at fault at all. Similarly, you may inadvertently say something to undermine your position in the auto liability claim which will give the insurance adjuster the advantage over you.
All of this can be avoided by seeking out the services of a lawyer who will not only share with you all of your legal options and rights but also create a much stronger demand from your side based on the evidence at hand. This way, you can expect adequate compensation and avoid the pitfalls of taking on the compensation insurer on your own.
Even though the adjuster may try to deliberately delay the settlement process if you get lawyers on board, the resolution will be in your favor.
Settlement Negotiations VS. Filing A Lawsuit
Most personal injury cases are resolved outside the court via negotiations with all the parties involved. Usually, lawyers delay putting forward a final demand for the case until after the victim has shown almost complete medical improvement, i.e. if they have recovered almost as much as they are expected to.
Before this point, it is near impossible to predict how much the case is worth.. However, the insurance adjuster may also try to drag on the process unnecessarily to make you accept a smaller sum. If that happens, just be a bit patient, it will be worth it!
However, if the negotiations seem futile then your lawyer may file a personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.. Your case will now be fought in a court of law, but it takes a year or two for personal injury cases to be heard in trial and they are usually settled beforehand.
Before a trial, there is the discovery phase in which both sides dig into the details of the case, prepare arguments and counter-arguments, record witness statements (this may be preceded by witness preparation), getting expert witnesses on board, and so on.
This phase alone can last as long as half a year!
Lawyers can settle cases via negotiations even at this point or they may seek mediation from a third party. But if this fails, the case will go to trial and the outcome will be based on the verdict of the judge and the jury.
The trial may be as short as a day or perhaps a couple of days, weeks, or longer.
You can expect rescheduling and delays here but that’s a normal part of the protocol so don’t sweat too much on that, just be prepared for the legal tussle that awaits.
If you stick around patiently and prepare well for your case, you might actually end up with much more through a jury verdict than what the compensation insurance company was willing to offer, especially if the jury rewards you with punitive damages which will swell up your winnings.
Do exactly as your lawyer says, and you’ll be golden!
Kelly & Associates Can Help You With Your Case
Case value estimation, and giving a timeline for resolution are two interlinked aspects of personal injury claims, however, there is no exact answer to either. They are inversely related, as we mentioned in the article, but your patience will get you fair compensation for damages.
This payout can be anywhere between a couple of thousand dollars to a hundred thousand or perhaps even more; this is only a rough estimate of the range in average settlement values.
Your first obligation in this regard is to get in touch with competent personal injury lawyers, no delays whatsoever. Never hesitate to call us because at Kelly & Associates, every client is valuable for us and we don’t ask for any attorney fees in advance.
Instead, our experienced car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee arrangement, it’s a win-win for you.
Call us today or fill out our contact form to learn more!