Payouts in personal injury cases can vary a great deal. We’ve had pedestrian cases that had only minor injuries and paid out just $10,000, and we’ve had cases that were worth well over a million.
No two cases are alike, and the facts of a case will greatly dictate how much the ultimate settlement is worth.
Accounting for Fault
The first factor that will impact the value of your settlement is whether or not it is possible to draw a clear line between the driver’s negligence to your injuries and losses. The clearer the line, the more your settlement is worth.
While it might be natural to assume a driver should always be held “at-fault” for an accident with a pedestrian, this is not the case. There are times when pedestrians break traffic laws and cause accidents. The fact that they tend to suffer more for these accidents than another at-fault party would does not make the driver any more liable for their injuries.
New York is a pure comparative fault state. This means each party is generally assigned a percentage of liability. Either party may recover damages, but their damages will be reduced by their fault percentage. This means in some cases there may also be diminishing returns on when it is worth pursuing a settlement. If you are found to be 50% at-fault then your damages would be reduced by 50% and your case would be worth a lot less.
Obviously it is within the insurance company’s best interests to try to assign pedestrians the highest percentage of fault that they possibly can. Your personal injury attorney will have to help you make a clear-cut case for why the driver (and not you) is the most negligent party.
Damages are calculated in a relatively straightforward way.
First, your medical bills and lost wages are added up. These are the rock-solid, non-negotiable numbers generated by hard fact.
The second part of your settlement will be a pain and suffering award. This is a far more subjective, negotiable amount based on the extent of your injuries and the extent to which those injuries have altered or changed your life. These amounts are not capped, nor do any real guidelines exist for the amount that should be awarded. In the end it will come down to the facts of your case, your attorney’s negotiation skills, or your attorney’s litigation skills if your case is one of the 8% of cases that eventually goes to trial.
The way that you react to your accident can also make a huge difference in the worth of your case.
If you immediately call an attorney and don’t let the driver’s insurance company talk to you then your case will be worth more. If you try to handle the adjuster on your own then you will almost certainly be led to say or do something which can reduce the value of your own case.
Need help? Our office wins fair settlements for pedestrian accident victims every year. Contact us to get a free consultation today.
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Meet Mr. Richman
SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.
Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines.