In Kentucky, if a person is injured and it is not their fault, the settlement value of their claim should include a calculation of all past medical bills related to the injury, any future medical bills as testified to by a physician, an analysis of any lost wages that was incurred, or any impairment of the person’s ability to earn income. It should also take into consideration their pain and suffering.
Having a Louisville personal injury attorney help you with this is very important when considering when to settle a claim. A personal injury attorney has their own historical knowledge and statistical knowledge about what other juries have done as far as the pain and suffering component. A lawyer is also in the best position to evaluate the evidence that is put in front of a jury. Looking at the evidence the jury will see helps the injured party and their attorney determine the value of the case.
Injured Party’s Liability
When the injured person is at fault, the amount they are able to get in a settlement is decreased dramatically. Kentucky follows a concept called apportionment. When there is a vehicle accident in which one person ran a red light but the other person was speeding, the jury must determine what percentage of fault each person has for causing the wreck. Because an individual can only collect for damages that they did not cause, when an individual is at fault, that decreases how much they can recover.
A person should never discuss fault with any insurance adjuster. They should only have those discussions with their attorney. However, your attorney may counsel you in private that you must consider your own fault when looking at the settlement value because the jury is certainly going to consider it. They are going to put an apportionment number on what percentage the injured party might be at fault. That number directly decreases any settlement amount you might receive.
There are two major points that must be considered when deciding whether to take a settlement offer. Number one is the amount of the offer in general. That should be compared to what a person would expect to get from a jury trial. That amount is something that your personal injury attorney can help you calculate.
In addition, the next component is how much it costs to get from where you are now to be ready to present to a jury trial. Sometimes, getting ready for a jury trial incurs a lot of costs associated with taking doctor’s depositions and preparing exhibits. All of those expenses come out of the client’s share.
The bottom line consideration is the amount of money that can be put into the client’s pocket. They must compare all scenarios and make the best economic decision for when to settle a claim.
Length of the Settlement Process
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine with any certainty how long it will take an injured person to receive a settlement. One of the factors that go into this consideration is the extent of an individual’s injuries. For example, a person does not want to settle too early when they do not know the full extent of the injuries they have received.
In addition, the other elements to be considered are whether a person is at fault and what kind of proof and evidence must be gathered. Generally, once your medical conditions are determined, it should take less than six months to receive a settlement.
Expediting the Process
A Louisville personal injury lawyer who works at a firm already has in place all of the necessary processes to quickly collect all of the medical records and other evidence such as police reports and witness statements that must be included in any demand package. Having all of these items prepared and ready to go expedites the settlement process.
The biggest issue is your medical past and whether or not you are going to require surgery or healing time. One of the biggest mistakes some people make is that they rush to settle a case before they know the full extent of their injuries, only to find out that they need a very costly surgery later. Once your medical situation is determined, the settlement should go fairly quickly.
The biggest issue that prolongs the process of settlement is related to subrogation liens. Many health insurance companies along with Medicare, Medicaid, and Passport require the attorney to contact them after settlement and determine how much, if any, of the settlement, must be used to pay back prior medical bills. Unfortunately, this can add many months to the process.
Steps an Attorney Can Take in a Prolonged Settlement
The most important thing an injured client can do to make sure their case moves along is to keep pursuing all of their medical treatment. It is important for the client to follow all of the doctor’s directions, attends all of their appointments, takes all medications as prescribed, and do not self-doctor or change because they think they are feeling better. If anything needs to be changed, it is important that they go back to the doctor.
Too many times, when a person starts physical therapy, they think they are getting better. They stop physical therapy for a while and then have a relapse.
Negotiating Damages in a Claim Settlement
Economic damages reflect out of pocket expenses to put it simply. Bills for medical treatment are a good example of an economic damage. They are easy to measure and quantify.It is critical to hire a lawyer in Louisville when trying to settle a personal injury claim, especially in the case of non-economic damages. An attorney is in the best position to help a person gather the required evidence to show true value of them. More importantly, the lawyer can present the evidence to the insurance company in order to demand payment. This would be difficult for a person with no legal background to accomplish.
A non-economic damage refers to the grievances an individual goes through that do not have clear monetary value. With a non-economic damage, the jury must listen to the evidence and deliberate to determine how a person has been injured. Pain and suffering within a personal injury claim is a good example of this. An injury to the neck or back of a client may prevent them from being able to pick up their child. An argument would be made upon how much that is worth, and ultimately the jury will disagree or agree.
Often with economic damages, the injured party will not get that money directly, it goes to pay the bills. The non-economic damages are very important because they are the ones that may end up going directly to the client in order compensate for emotional and physical losses that may happen.
Cap on Non-Economic Damages
In many jurisdictions around the country, a cap was put on non-economic damages. This is also called tort reform. In some states, non-economic damages are limited to $250,000, for example. However, in Kentucky, non-economic damages are not capped.