How can I prove future expenses so I get a higher settlement or award?
By Greg Kaminsky, Staff Writer
If you have been injured and have decided to take legal action to get compensated for your injury, you are probably wondering how much money you can get. There are many factors to consider when determining what an injury is “worth” and, if you were injured by someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to face any of the financial consequences of that injury yourself. The person or people responsible for your injury should be the same ones responsible for paying for it. However, not every expense related to your injury can be easily proved.
Some of the financial impact, such as past medical bills, loss of wages or income, or property loss or damage is straightforward. These items can quickly be determined by looking at your bills and the compensation you received from your job during the period in question. If you suffered a broken leg in a car accident for example, you should be compensated for the medical bills from your hospital visits, the damages to your car, and if you could not return to work, lost wages for the amount of time you were unable to work.
Other kinds of damages for which you might be entitled to compensation can be more of a grey area. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment or consortium. If your injury had a psychological impact for example, and you were no longer able to ride in a car after your car accident, or were not able to maintain the same lifestyle or relationships that you previously enjoyed, you could be eligible for additional compensation. These things do not have a clear value though, and may not initially be apparent. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to place a value on these damages and present that value to the insurance company and, if necessary, to the jury.
Estimating future damages from a serious personal injury is much more difficult. You may be facing a lifetime of medical bills and hospital visits, or need the assistance of a caretaker. Even experienced personal injury lawyers need to hire experts to determine the present value of these future expenses. It is important for you to think about future expenses when you consider what your injury is “worth”. The last thing you want to do is hastily accept a settlement offer and then be paying your own medical bills down the line when all of the settlement money is long gone.
The smartest thing you can do is hire an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer. When appropriate, that attorney will retain an expert to evaluate your situation and consider every possible future scenario for your injury and anticipated expenses. Your attorney’s job is to articulately present that information to a judge and jury if the insurance company won’t settle for a reasonable amount. It is your lawyer’s job to get you the highest amount of compensation possible for your injury, and since your lawyer won’t get paid until you do, it gives the lawyer a vested interest in achieving the best possible result. If you want to maximize your award, you will need the help of a lawyer.