What would be an appropriate amount for my personal injury settlement?

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What would be an appropriate amount for my personal injury settlement?

I was recently involved in a bicycle accident. There was an unmarked construction site that I ride my bike into and sustained serious internal damage. I had a lacerated liver and was placed in ICU for a week. I was then bed ridden for two months and had 4 additional months of recovery without working or any strenuous movement. My medical bills were about $20,000, missed employment wages are about $3,600, and bike repair is about $400 and the construction company is taking full responsibility and is asking for a settlement amount. I’m not sure what a fair amount would be.

Asked on January 4, 2012 under Personal Injury, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can recovery medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You already know three of those elements; the fourth, pain and suffering, if you were paryly or almost wholly disabled for 6 months, might be another $20k+ (an amount more or less equal to your medical bills). However,  usually, you accept less than the full amount you might win were you to go to court if you settle before litigation, because you save the cost and uncertainty of a trial; also, you need to offer the other side an incentive to settle with you. You might initially ask for around $45k - $50k, but should be prepared to settle for, say $30k - $35k (basically, costs plus $5k - $10k for pain and suffering)--that's assuming you want to avoid trial and its costs.

Note that pain and suffering can be a very variable amount--if you are a sympathetic plaintiff, a jury could award you more than the $20k or so indicated above.

While the above is a useful guideline, there is no substitute for review by an experienced attorney, taking into account all the particulars of your case. Many personal injury attorneys provide a free initial consulation: you might want to speak to one, to get a sense for what he/she thinks the case is worth, as well as for what he/she would charge to pursue it.


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