There are many ways in which you can be damaged by being in an accident. There are the obvious things like medical bills and lost wages, but there are also the more subtle things like future wage loss, loss of earning capacity, [which is the ability to earn a living and that can be measured usually by expert witnesses skilled in that field], or simply the loss of joy in your daily life. The most difficult damage concept is the concept of how we determine the value to your of the pain from your injuries, and its effect on you every day.
Your attorneys and the insurance companies with their attorneys both try to approximate what a jury would do with your unique set of facts and your damage numbers, meaning your wage loss and medical bills. They will have reference to other cases and their experience in a lot of other cases but ultimately your case is different. Even so, there are certain things that are proven over time to be important to juries in evaluating cases. No one can accurately predict what your jury will do. Both sides prefer settlement, because it eliminates this risk, and it can also avoid the high costs of going to trial.
As an example, a likable client is going to get much more money for exactly the same injury than a client who is less likable. A client who is articulate and does a good job of describing their injuries is going to do better than a client with the exact same injuries who is not as good at explaining what the injuries are and it is also true that jurors are very responsive to the manner and extent to which any injury affects daily function. It is not always easy to predict how a jury will view you or your case. The same is true for the defendant and their case.
As an attorney, I can do a lot of sitting at my desk. For me, a broken ankle is not going to be a as bad an injury for me as it would be for an ironworker. If, like an ironworker, I had to walk carrying big pieces of steel, an ankle injury would be a job killer.
Those kinds of observations are very important to a jury in determining what the value is. You’re your attorney’s job to tease those facts out whether it’s to present your case to the insurance company or to a jury that’s putting a price on the case. Whether the insurance company or a jury is evaluating the case, they need to be given all of your information that you want them to include in determining the correct amount for your damages.
What About Punitive Damages?
Yes, punitive damages are possible.
In theory, you can get punitive damages, for example, if the driver causing the accident was a drunk driver. In reality, punitive damages are very rare. It’s very common, even when punitive damages are awarded, to have the amount reduced either at the trial court level or at the appellate level. Sometimes that means coming back for a second trial.
In general, I personally feel it’s unrealistic to expect to see punitive damages in your case unless the facts are really compelling.
Can A Motorcycle Attorney Help Me Get present the Pain, Suffering, and Psychological Damages associated with a head injury?
In almost every significant motorcycle accident, the rider is thrown from the motorcycle. That’s very different from automobile accidents where the overwhelmingly large percentage of time people stay in the car and aren’t thrown out.
Because motorcycle riders are thrown from the motorcycles, they have a much higher chance of having a head injury than other kinds of victims. There are two distinct ways in which your head injuries can present.
One type of injury is psychological. You may end up with something like post-traumatic stress disorder. Even during the day you can keep seeing the accident happening over and over. There are a lot of symptoms that go with this type of injury.
The other common injury is an actual traumatic brain injury where the brain itself is injured.
Surprisingly, most brain injuries involve riders who are helmeted. The typical way that the brain is injured is by being thrown around inside the brain, similar to shaken baby syndrome. The brain gets damaged because it is slammed around inside the skull, hitting rough edges on the inside of the skull, and tearing tissue as it is pulled and twisted. It’s much rarer that the skull is fractured or for an object to cause intrusion into the brain.
An attorney who is experienced in motorcycle accidents, has to be experienced in the psychological and brain injury trauma that accompanies many motorcycle accidents. The presentation of these injuries is very specialized and different than the presentation of, say, a broken leg, which is easily seen on x-ray.
Does Someone Get Compensated In a Lump Sum Amount or is it Generally Awarded Over Time?
Normally, settlements are paid in one lump sum.
This causes a lot of issues because this means your settlement has to include your future wage loss and an amount for medical bills that you haven’t incurred yet but will incur in the future. Sometimes these issues are a little bit more easily handled in a structured settlement. These settlements can includel periodic lump sum payments in addition to the ongoing payments. For example, the lump sums can be directed at future surgeries and so forth. Again, this is very much the exception and very much is limited to the largest cases. However, your attorney can tell you about the use of these settlement tools.
Whether or not a structured settlement is better than a lump sum settlement really depends on your particular needs and the nature of the particular structure. Suffice it to say, it’s a very complicated process, with very difficult choices to be made. Your attorney will discuss the pros and cons with you, and you should also speak with a structured settlement specialist.
What If My Medical Expenses Exceed the Amount of Compensation or Settlement?
This is a tough deal and once you settle, you settle. It’s important that the presentation be thorough and that you have an attorney who is not going to miss little things. Anything that is missed once a case is settled is gone and every release that I’ve ever seen requires signing a paragraph that says, “I understand that this release applies even if there are damages that I don’t know about.”
However, it is a sad fact that not everyone carries enough insurance coverage, and not all defendants are independently wealthy. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what anyone does, there just isn’t enough money in your settlement for full compensation.
For more information on Types Of Compensable Damages, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (800) 928-1511 today.