How does the personal injury compensation system work in the United States?
The legal and economic system is designed to provide you with a right to recover compensation if you've been injured as a result of someone else's actions or inaction.
A lot of people feel like they are doing something wrong if they bring a claim against someone else following an accident, however, what they often fail to recognize is the US system is designed to ensure an individual has a right to obtain compensation following an accident to pay for the damages that the person will or is likely to suffer. In addition, we all pay for that system in one way or another through insurance. It is important to obtain the benefit of that system if you've been involved in an accident, as that system is designed to pay you.
If your car has been damaged in an auto accident you'd require your insurance company to pay to repair or replace the vehicle. It is no different if you've been injured in an accident, as you should require someone else's insurance company to pay you for the injuries (damage) you suffer.
How do I calculate how much i'm owed after my accident? How much is my personal injury claim worth?
In 2019, it is estimated that the average settlement in the United States in a personal injury case is ~$50,000 USD and that on average approximately 70% of personal injury cases result in a payout (source here). With that said, settlements can range from anywhere between $1,000 and settlements in the millions of dollars, depending on the circumstances.
What does that mean for your claim? How do you know how much your claim may settle for? Like most areas of the legal industry, it depends. It depends on your State, how you were injured and the nature of your injuries.
First, it is important to note that the settlement amount you may be entitled to can vary significantly. It can vary based on the following factors:
The State where the injury occurred;
The type of accident? For example, compensation may vary depending on whether the injury results from a car accident, slip and fall, work accident, medical malpractice, exposure to hazardous substances or other accident resulting in injuries;
The nature and the extent of your injuries (i.e. how significant are the injuries and how long will the injuries last);
Whether your injuries have impacted your ability to work or may impact your ability to work in the future (for example, did your injuries impact your ability to earn the same income as you received prior to the accident);
Whether your injuries required you to change employers;
Whether your injuries impacted your personal life in any way (for example, whether your injuries prevent you from participating in any activities you enjoy, like sports, dance, etc. or whether they impact your ability to perform routine household tasks);
How egregious the conduct was of the individual who caused the accident or injured you (i.e. punitive damages);
Whether there is any insurance proceeds available to satisfy your claim. If there is not any insurance available, it may be more challenging to recover compensation following your accident; and
The type of attorney you have hired to help resolve your claim.
Second, to determine what you may actually be owed following your accident it is critically important that you speak with injury lawyers in your State to understand how much you may be entitled to for your claim. But how do you know if the injury lawyer you are speaking with is correct? How do you know unless you are able to compare quotes or information from multiple lawyers?
That is where Adidem comes in. Adidem will go to the personal injury market for you and obtain you quotes from multiple personal injury lawyers to assess what your claim may be worth and how much it will cost to hire a personal injury attorney. All you need to is answer our questionnaire and we will get quotes from multiple injury attorneys to assess whether you may have a claim and how much that claim may be worth.
With that in mind, here are some of the factors you need to consider to assess the value of your claim (the "personal injury calculator").
The amount you may be entitled to recover for your accident may in part depend on the State where your accident occurred. Why? Well, some States impose certain limitations on the amounts you can recover from certain accidents. Each State also has its own court systems which defined, through the common law, entitlement for personal injury claims.
For example, every State (other than Texas) has a workers' compensation regime which defines entitlement to compensation following an injury at work. In addition, some States limit or restrict the amount you can recover from doctors if you are subject to a medical malpractice incident. These State restrictions may also mandate that certain processes be followed to substantiate and advance your claim before you are entitled to compensation.
What does this all mean for you? Depending on the nature of your accident and where your accident occurred, it is important to speak with personal injury attorneys near you to assess what compensation you may be entitled to and what limitations or process is in place to help you recover compensation for your accident.
Similar to the concept in the heading above, let's say that person A suffered a broken leg in a car accident and person B suffered a broken leg in a work accident in the same State, and both accidents resulted from someone else's fault. Let's also assume that both person A and person B suffer the exact same effects from the injuries (i.e. same impact to their work and personal lives). One would naturally assume that both person A and person B would be entitled to receive the exact same or very similar compensation for their accidents. No need for a personal injury calculator right?
Well, not necessarily. In some States both person A and person B may be entitled to similar compensation for their accident, however, in other States person A and person B may not receive the same amount of damages considering that one injury resulted from a car accident and one injury resulted from a work accident. Different legislative or compensation regimes may be in place to define what each individual is entitled to following the accident. The only way to find out is by speaking with personal injury lawyers in the subject State.
Again, Adidem can also do this for you without the hassle of you needing to contact various lawyers in State.
3. How does the nature and significance of my injuries impact the compensation I am entitled to after an accident?
Unfortunately after an accident, the injuries you suffer are completely out of your control. You can suffer significant injuries or you can suffer minor injuries. You can also suffer injuries that eventually heal or your injuries could persist for a number of years following your accident (or can even be permanent). You can also suffer injuries that cause you significant pain and suffering or you can suffer injuries that results in bruising or strains that only result in mild discomfort. You can also suffer only one injury following an accident or you can suffer multiple injuries that have various effects.
After you are involved in an accident that results in injuries (where the accident is not your fault), you are entitled to what is called "general damages" for your personal injuries. General damages can change depending on the number, nature and extent of the injuries you suffer after your accident. Again, the State where the accident occurred may also impact how the general compensatory damages may be calculated.
As you can see, it is very difficult to provide a specific personal injury damages calculator which can tell exactly how much you are entitled to following an accident as various factors apply.
After an accident, your injuries may have the following impacts on your employment:
Your injuries may prevent you from performing certain day-to-day activities at your job;
Your injuries may make performing certain routing work tasks more uncomfortable, painful or difficult now or in the future;
Your injuries may prevent you from performing your previous employment tasks;
Your injuries may require you to take time off of work;
Your injuries may require you to work less hours in the future;
Your injuries may result in the loss of your job;
Your injuries may result in you needing to change your type of employment (i.e. you may no longer be able to perform the same job);
Your injuries may prevent you from performing certain day-to-day activities in the future;
Your injuries may temprarily result in you earning less income at work;
Your injuries may permanently prevent you from earning the same amount of income in the future as you earned prior to the accident; or
Your injuries may result in the loss of benefits, stock options, bonuses or other employment benefits following the accident.
As you can see, a number of factors can impact how your injuries may affect your employment. In order to prove these impacts, you will need detailed employment and medical records confirming such. In addition to the list above, everyone earns different amounts of income and has different current and future earning ability. The applicability of these factors can significantly impact the amount you can recover following you accident. The more impact your injuries have on your employment, the more you may recover in compensation or the higher the settlement value following your accident.
This is obviously related to the topic above, however, it is important to separate. Depending on the nature and impact of your injuries, your employer may not be able or willing to accommodate your inability to perform your job or may be unable or unwilling to provide you the time off work that you need to recover from your accidents. While your employer may have some duty to accommodate in certain instances, it doesn't change the fact that you could lose your job after your accident.
As a result, you may lose income for the period you are unable to work or you may not be able to find comparable employment following the accident. This could result in a significant inconvenience to you and your family, and can be a considerable stress. It should be noted there are financing services available that may fund some of your expenses following you accident (for a fee), however, these expenses can be included in your personal injury action. Thus, if you are unable to work after an accident and lose out on income, it is very important to speak with an injury lawyer to assess whether the injury attorney can help you find an intermediate source of income, how long it may take you to recover some of your lost income and otherwise what you need to do to support and demonstrate your loss of income claim.
If your injuries impact your ability to participate in recreational activities or perform certain household tasks, that may impact or increase the amount of damages you are entitled to recover after your accident. Here is how.
A. Recreational Activities
We all have hobbies. The more hobbies the more exciting and interesting our lives can be.
While an accident is always unfortunate, it is particularly impactful when your injuries prevent you from participating in the activities that you enjoy. If your accident has temporarily or permanently impacted or prevented you from participating in recreational activities, sports, hobbies, sex or other activities you enjoy that may increase the amount of damages you can recover following your accident.
For example, if you are unable to participate in social or extracurricular activities for an extended period of time your damages claim will likely be increased compared to a person who has been injured but the injuries do not impact his/her recreational activities.
B. Household Tasks
After an accident, you may temporarily or permanently no longer be able to perform certain household tasks. That could include:
cutting the lawn;
looking after children;
cooking or cleaning; or
other household activities.
If you are unable to perform any of these tasks, there could be an associated cost incurred by you or your family as a result of your injuries. Furthermore, your ability to complete these household tasks could be impacted for a number of years into the future. As a result, the amount of damages or money that you may be entitled to following your accident will likely increase if you are unable to perform any household tasks or if any of those tasks become more difficult or painful.
In limited instances, someone's behavior when they cause an accident may be particularly reprehensible. In those circumstances, you may be entitled to what is called "punitive" damages, or damages that are awarded to send a message to the offending party to try to prevent or deter similar behavior in the future. It should be stressed that it is only in very limited circumstances where these damages may apply and you will need to speak with a personal injury attorney to assess whether the nature of the accident may justify such damages or whether these types of damages are applicable in your State.
First, whether or not insurance is available for your claim typically does not effect the amount of damages that you are entitled to recover. With that said, your ability to actually recover money following your accident is significantly increased if insurance proceeds are available. Why do you ask?
The insurance industry is almost entirely designed to make sure compensation is available for certain types of liabilities. That is why we buy home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, liability insurance and other types of insurance. It is to protect us if something unexpected occurs or if we are to suffer an unexpected loss.
So, if you've been injured by someone else's actions or inaction and the person who caused the accident or injuries has insurance, typically that insurance will be available to pay you compensation for that person's actions. It is often much more straight forward to actually recover compensation following an accident if insurance is available.
If insurance proceeds are not available, you will need to bring your claim against someone personally. This means actually recovering compensation from someone's personal assets. Depending on who caused the accident, that person may not actually have the financial ability to pay you for your claim. Thus, if insurance proceeds are not available it may be more difficult to collect compensation following your accident. If insurance is not available you are still entitled to bring a claim and recover damages - but as noted - you will need to assess whether there is anything you can actually recover from the person who caused the accident if insurance is not in place.
In short, yes. There are good lawyers and there are poor lawyers. There are experienced lawyers and there are inexperienced lawyers. There are hardworking lawyers and there are lazy lawyers. There are personal injury lawyers and there are commercial lawyers. There are attorneys with good relationships with the insurance industry and other attorneys that have no connections in the insurance business. There are more expensive lawyers and there are more cost-effective lawyers, however, a more expensive lawyer could actually recover you more compensation than a cheaper lawyer (however, that is obviously not always the case). One lawyer may also value your case higher than another lawyer - even if they have similar experience.
The type of lawyer you hire may have a direct impact on the amount you recover for your personal injury claim and finding the right lawyer, with the right experience at the right price point is a critically important to you recovering the most from your claim.
Sound confusing? Unfortunately, it is.
Most people go to the first lawyer they know or are referred to, but how do you know whether that is the right lawyer for your claim. The simple fact is you don't.
That is where Adidem is designed to help. Adidem finally levels the playing field in your favour.
Well, you could do all the work and call a number of lawyers yourself, or you could simplify life and just use Adidem and let Adidem do the work for you.
At Adidem, we use software to simplify the process to hire a personal injury lawyer and to provide you with the relevant information you need to help decide which is the best personal injury lawyer near you to hire.
We also allow any lawyer to sign-up to use Adidem. No restrictions, no-sign-up fee and no exclusivity with any particular firm or lawyer. Rather than you having to look for the right lawyer, we bring the legal market to you.
This is important, as Adidem:
- can provide you with access to the broader legal market in your city without you needing to contact all those lawyers;
- allows any lawyer with an opportunity to offer their services for your claim;
- allows you to obtain information with respect to your claim to determine which lawyer you may want to hire; and
- makes lawyers compete for your work.