The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Ask a Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer: How Much Will I Get for Pain and Suffering from a Car Accident Settlement?
November 9, 2021
After a car crash, the economic losses are normally staggering. Emergency care alone might cost $100,000 or even more. This figure does not include physical therapy and other costs. This figure also does not include other economic losses, such as property damage and lost wages.
Generally, car crash victims are eligible for noneconomic damages as well. Minnesota has a limited no-fault law. If the victim’s medical bills exceeded $4,000, additional compensation for things like pain and suffering is available. Many hospitals charge that much to walk in the door.
No amount of money can fully compensate for things like loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). But since money damages are the only available remedy, Brainerd, MN injury lawyerswork hard to help victims get money for pain and suffering in a car accident settlement.
Determining a Fair Amount of Compensation
Most personal injury claims settle out of court. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers usually send demand letters to initiate settlement negotiations. These demand letters must include an amount for both economic and noneconomic losses.
The economic damage calculation is rather straightforward, but there are some curves. Property loss is a good example. Many times, the family car has an emotional value which exceeds its financial value. Victims deserve compensation for both kinds of losses.
Additionally, many victims return to work before they are 100 percent better. If they are self-employed, they are less productive. Alternatively, they might come in late or leave early. Lost wages compensation must account for these things.
Calculating noneconomic losses, however, is a different matter. To determine a fair amount, most Brainerd, MN injury lawyers use one of the following formulas:
Some lawyers use the days of missed work as a basis for pain and suffering. For example, if Ralph missed 100 days of work after a crash, including both emergency and followup treatment, and Ralph makes $200 per day, his pain and suffering is approximately $20,000.
Other lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four (usually three), largely depending on the factors listed below. If Jill’s medical bills and other economic losses were $10,000, her pain and suffering calculation might be $30,000.
These hypothetical figures are initial offers. To resolve the case, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. They must make sacrifices to complete a deal. The extent of these sacrifices varies greatly, depending on a number of items.
Minnesota Personal Injury Settlement Statistics
To understand how much compensation you could receive for your personal injury case, it’s important to know the average settlement amounts. That way, you can temper your expectations.
The national median for personal injury awards is $38,179. In Minnesota, the median personal injury case settlement is $30,000. So, Minnesota judges tend to award personal injury plaintiffs about 21% less than the national median.
At the same time, research shows that the national average for the chance of winning a personal injury settlement is 53%. Compare that to Minnesota’s average settlement probability of 67%, which is 14% greater than the national average.
In summary, Minnesota judges award smaller settlement sums than the national median award size. But Minnesota judges award settlements of any size more often than the national average. That means your Brainerd personal injury lawyer has a pretty good chance of winning settlement funds for you.
What Happens When the Defendant Doesn’t Want to Settle?
Settlements are the ideal outcome of personal injury cases. And personal injury cases do settle about 95%–96% of the time. However, there is a small chance that your personal injury suit could go to trial.
Here are a few reasons why this could happen to you:
The defendant refuses to offer a settlement
The defendant offers a settlement amount, but you and your lawyer determine the amount isn’t sufficient for your damages
You and your attorney offer a settlement that the defendant perceives as unreasonable
You want the opportunity to seek punitive damages, which are only awarded by a trial judge’s discretion
If any of these four things happen, you will have to the forfeit settlement. You and your attorney will then have to prepare for trial.
Brained, MN Injury Lawyers and Car Crash Evidence
The victim/plaintiff has the burden of proof in a negligence case. So, the possibility of success increases if the victim/plaintiff has substantial evidence. As a result, the claim’s settlement value increases.
Evidence in a car crash claim often includes physical evidence, such as medical bills. Generally, these documents provide more than diagnosis, treatment, and financial data. They also include notes which describe the patient’s physical and emotional state on certain days. Brainerd, MN injury lawyers can normally introduce these records at trial.
Nonphysical evidence, such as witness testimony, is also admissible. Many witnesses can connect with jurors in ways that paper documents cannot.
Insurance Company Defenses in Minnesota
Strong, evidence-based claims help Brainerd, MN injury lawyers negotiate settlements from a position of strength. But the amount of evidence is not the only consideration in settlement negotiations.
Defenses, such as comparative fault, often come into play. This legal doctrine shifts blame from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, in a freeway collision, one driver might have changed lanes without signaling and the other driver might have been speeding. In these cases, a Crow Wing County jury must divide fault on a percentage basis. Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate amount of damages.
Other insurance company defenses include sudden emergency, which often comes up in pedestrian accidents, and last clear chance, a frequent defense in rear-end or head-on crashes.
Much like strong evidence bolsters a victim/plaintiff’s claim, a strong defense supports the insurance company’s efforts to reduce or deny compensation.
How to Find an Aggressive Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer
As we’ve mentioned, a strong defense is critical if you want fair compensation for your medical bills and/or pain and suffering. That’s why you need aggressive representation from a highly experienced attorney.
The first step to finding the best personal injury attorney is to look for lawyers who have experience and a successful track record with personal injury cases.
Here’s something else to consider: if you’re suing your insurance company, avoid attorneys who have worked with insurers. You don’t want to end up with a legal professional who has a soft spot for insurers. You want an attorney who will fight aggressively for the compensation you deserve.
Ask for Referrals
Once you have a long list of personal injury lawyers, ask around for referrals. Do you have friends or family who have been in your situation before? A referral to a lawyer who helped someone else win a settlement can go a long way.
However, don’t choose an attorney solely based on recommendation. You want to make sure the lawyer fits with your unique needs and specific case, so make sure you schedule a consultation. More on that later.
Search for Local Brainerd Personal Injury Attorneys
Anytime you’re looking for lawyers, you should always search in your state. Laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A Minnesota attorney will know those laws and be prepared to use them in your case.
Further, consider an attorney near you. A local attorney has the added advantage of being familiar with the court system. That can be a major advantage, especially if your case ultimately goes to trial.
Read Online Reviews
To narrow down your list of attorneys, it’s always a good idea to check out online reviews. You should be able to access client reviews on the attorney website and via third-party platforms like Yelp.
Better yet, check out reviews from other lawyers. Websites like Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers have peer reviews for selected lawyers.
Schedule a Consultation
By now, you should have whittled your long list down to 2–3 personal injury attorneys in Brainerd. Now, it’s time to schedule that initial consultation we talked about earlier. Reputable lawyers typically offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose.
Here are some questions to ask during your consultation:
Do you have the resources and time to take on my case?
If my case doesn’t settle, are you prepared to go to trial?
How often do you succeed with cases like mine?
It’s also important to ask about fees. You should never let cost determine which personal injury attorney you choose. After all, you get what you pay for when it comes to legal representation.
However, we understand that cost is always a factor in choosing the right lawyer. Make sure to understand your attorney’s fee structure, whether it’s by the hour, a flat fee, or a contingent fee. If it’s not a flat fee or a contingent fee, it may help to ask how long the case could take to get an idea of the total cost for representation.
Reach Out to an Aggressive Car Accident Attorney
The amount for pain and suffering from a car accident settlement depends on many factors. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.
Original article published on January 26, 2020 and updated on November 9, 2021.