How do I know what I am settling for is fair?

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How do I know what I am settling for is fair?

Asked on September 3, 2013 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were personally injured (which I assume is what happened, since you entered this question under "personal injury"), then if you went to court and won, you could potentially recover:

1) all your out-of-pocket (not paid by health insurance) medical costs, both to date and reasonably certain projected future (though future costs are "discounted to present value"--reduced in amount, to reflect the fact that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in 5 or 10 years);

2) any lost wages due to the accident;

3) projected future reduced earning potential, if you can't work as much, as long, or at as lucrative a job;

4) other costs flowing out of the accident, such as if you had to hire someone to drive you or keep house or take care of your children while hurt;

5) "pain and suffering," IF the injury caused a significant impairment of life functions or reduction in quality of life lasting months or years. This is usually (very rough rule of thumb) an amount equal to 1x - 3x your medical costs.

The sum of the above, plus any compensation for destroyed or damaged property (such as a car) is usually the most you can get in a trial.

The earlier before trial you settle, the less you'll get; you get less because you are saving the time, cost, and uncertainty of litigation. Settling before having to file a lawsuit might mean taking 1/4 to 1/3 of what you could get if you won at trial; settling after litigation has gone on for some time, but before trial, you might get 1/2 to 60% or so.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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