How to Calculate Personal Settlement Amounts in South Carolina
South Carolina law gives you the right to bring a lawsuit against someone who has caused injury to you through their careless or reckless actions. You exercise this right when you file a personal injury lawsuit and seek damages from that person. A successful suit can provide you with compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, mental suffering, and other losses.
However, taking your lawsuit to trial and seeking compensation in this manner is not without its risks: The judge or jury hearing your case might not agree with your view of the evidence and might conclude that the other person is not responsible for causing the accident. Or they might believe your injuries are not as serious as you claim they are and thereby give you only a portion of the compensation you request.
For these reasons, your personal injury lawyer will likely try to settle your claim at the negotiating table, long before your lawsuit ends up in court.
How Settlements Reduce Uncertainties in Personal Injury Cases
Settlement agreements can reduce some of the uncertainty and risk that personal injury lawsuits present. By agreeing with the other party on the compensation you receive, you are guaranteed to receive that amount.
At that point, your settlement does not depend on a judge believing that the other party caused your injuries or a jury agreeing with you as to the extent of your injuries. This does not mean that settlements are without their risks, though.
Once you agree to settle your case for a specific sum of money, you lose the ability to revisit the agreement. Absent evidence that the other party defrauded you in some way, it is nearly impossible to undo a settlement or seek additional compensation if the settlement is not enough to cover your losses.
Factors to Consider When Negotiating a Settlement
It is crucial, therefore, that the settlement amount adequately compensate you for your losses. This requires you and your attorney to consider the many ways in which an injury accident could have harmed you. Specifically, you should consider the following:
Your Past and Future Medical Expenses
A starting point in arriving at a settlement figure is to add up any hospital bills, doctors’ bills, medication costs, and other medical expenses you incurred. These expenses are usually easily documented and difficult to dispute. However, you should not stop there.
Consider whether you will need additional treatment or therapy in the future. The cost of such treatment should be included in any settlement figure. Your doctor or treatment team can help you understand what future care you may need.
Your Lost Wages and Earning Potential
Next, if you missed any time from work, you are entitled to pursue compensation for those wages you could not earn because of your injuries. For example, if you were in the hospital recovering for two weeks and couldn’t work, your settlement should include two weeks of lost wages.
Do not forget to consider wages you will not be able to earn in the future. An injury that results in a permanent or temporary disability can affect your ability to earn income in your previous line of work. If you have been hurt in this way, your settlement should reflect this.
For instance, suppose that you injured your back and must avoid standing and walking for extended periods while it heals. For the next year, you will not be able to return to your job in management but must instead accept a part-time position at a lower wage. The difference between what you could have been making and what you are forced to accept at the moment should be reflected in the amount of compensation for which you settle your case.
Emotional Harm and Mental Suffering
Do not neglect the emotional and mental damage that a personal injury accident might cause. Although this type of harm is difficult to assign a monetary value to, it is still real and deserving of compensation.
Your total settlement should address your physical pain, any depression or anxiety brought on by your injury, and the loss of your ability to enjoy life fully.
Your personal injury lawyer will suggest that you keep a journal following an injury accident and write your feelings down. Your in-the-moment impressions of your injuries and how they affect your life are powerful evidence that can support a demand for compensation through a settlement.
How an Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Can Assist You