Take A Realistic Look At What A Personal Injury Settlement Might Net You

Posted on: 8 March 2016

Before filing a personal injury claim, you should take a realistic look at what you might net from it. Of course, all claims are different, and your ultimate settlement will depend on your case. Unless you sustained lifelong injuries, though, a settlement probably won't leave you set for life. Large-sum settlements capture headlines, but most cases settle for only modest sums. Here's a look at what you might ultimately receive from a typical successful personal injury claim.

Personal Injury Claims Settle for Modest Sums

Of course, there are personal injury claims that settle for hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of dollars. These are exceptional cases, though. In 2013, for example, the average personal injury claim settled for $24,000.

Your claim may be more or less than $24,000, but this average provides a realistic reference point for determining how much a typical personal injury claim might settle for. If your settlement totals $24,000, you'll ultimately receive a portion of that after fees and expenses are subtracted.

Court Costs Reduce Your Settlement

Court costs are first subtracted from the settlement. For personal injury cases, these are often significant because the cases frequently require at least one deposition and expert witness, if not more. After all, it's difficult to argue a case about an injury without a statement from an expert medical witness. Here's a look at how much these services might cost:

If you needed just one deposition and an hour of an expert medical witness' time, your court costs would total at least $919. They may be more. Before anyone else is paid, these expenses will be deducted from your settlement. The remaining settlement in this example would be $23,081.

Your Personal Injury Attorney Gets a Percentage

Because many claimants can't afford to pay an attorney out of pocket, most personal injury attorneys work on a commission basis. They only get paid if your case is successful. If it is, they take a percentage.

The percentage that your attorney receives might depend on whether your case goes to court. Many contingent payment agreements award the attorney 33 percent of the settlement for cases that don't go to court and 40 percent for those that do go to trial. In both cases, these percentages are calculated after court costs are paid.

Even if your case didn't go to trial, your attorney would still receive $7616.73 (33 percent of $23,081) for their troubles. This would lower your remaining settlement to $1,5464.27.

Your Medical Bills Are Paid

Finally, before forwarding the remainder of your settlement to you, your attorney will have to pay the medical providers who treated your injuries. Until your claim is settled, your personal injury attorney will send medical providers letters of protection. These letters state that the providers will be paid when your case is settled. This lets them provide care without worrying about how you'll pay them. Once your case is settled, though, these letters must be honored.

If the medical expenses related to your claim totaled $3,500, your settlement would be further reduced by that much. In the example, it'd be left at $11,9464.27. This is the amount you'd actually receive.

This amount is sizeable, but it won't pay for all your future living expenses. As mentioned, your individual case may settle for more or less. The numbers used in this example, though, are fairly typical. Unless your case is extraordinary, expect an ordinary settlement -- not a huge one. To get a more realistic picture of what you might receive from a settlement, contact a personal injury attorney who can discuss your case's specifics with you.

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