For victims of a personal injury accident, the first concern is medical treatment for the physical injuries received in the accident. Eventually, however, a victim will start to wonder what those injuries are worth if someone else’s negligence caused, or contributed to, the accident. Because each personal injury accident involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, only an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney can provide you with an accurate estimate of the value of your case; however, a better understanding of the factors that typically impact how much compensation is reasonable to expect from your personal injury case may be beneficial in the meantime.
- Negligence – negligence is the legal term used to refer to fault or blame. In Michigan, it is not necessary for a party to be completely at fault in an accident to be liable for damages. Michigan uses a comparative negligence standard, meaning that a party is responsible to the degree the party was negligent. For example, if you were 20 percent responsible for the accident, the other party would be 80 percent responsible, assuming only two parties were involved. Therefore, the other party would be liable for 80 percent of the total damages. If your total damages amount to $50,000, the other party would be liable for $40,000 ($50,000 x 0.80 = $40,000).
- Physical injuries – the extent and severity of your physical injuries is a major factor in determining the value of your case. If you suffered a spinal cord injury, for instance, you will likely receive a much higher settlement or award than if your only physical injury was a broken arm.
- Emotional trauma – in legal terms, “non-economic injuries” refers to what most people know as “pain and suffering”. The value of your non-economic damages is harder to calculate because it is subjective. Things such as your age, health prior to the accident, family and work life, and the existence or absence of disfiguring injuries, scars, or permanent injuries will all impact the value of your non-economic damages.
- Liability limits – the reality is that the policy limit of the negligent party’s liability insurance is often a factor when negotiating a settlement. Though you can pursue payment from the negligent party personally if the value of the damages exceeds the liability insurance limit, if the difference isn’t significant it is often better to simply reach an agreement for a settlement that is within the policy limits.
- Punitive damages – punitive damages are only available of the negligent party’s conduct was particularly egregious; however, if punitive damages do apply, the overall value of your case can increase dramatically.
If you have been injured in a Michigan personal injury accident, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced Michigan personal injury attorney as soon as possible to determine what legal option you have as well as to obtain an estimate of the value of your case.
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