A personal injury settlement is an amount of money awarded to an injured victim (plaintiff) by an insurance company to make the victim whole again. A victim may achieve a settlement by proving the policyholder’s fault for the accident and injury in question. Although every personal injury settlement is unique, most are broken down into similar parts.
Attorney’s and Legal Fees
The first portion of your settlement will go to the attorney and legal fees you owe, if any. This will not be an expense you have to pay if you represented yourself during a claim. If you hired a personal injury lawyer, however, and have not fully paid for legal services, your settlement will include an amount you owe the lawyer. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not pay any attorney’s fees until the resolution of your case.
If this is your payment setup, your lawyer will deduct his or her fees at the end of your case as a percentage of the settlement. If you won $200,000, for example, and the attorney worked on a 30% fee rate, $60,000 of your settlement would go to your attorney. You may also owe additional money for filing fees, court expenses and hiring an expert witness. Make sure you understand how your lawyer charges before you sign a contract.
The second chunk of your settlement will go to paying off your medical debts. Medical expenses are often the largest portion of a settlement in Nebraska. As an injured victim, your medical bills could total into the thousands or even the millions of dollars over your lifetime, especially if you suffered a permanent injury. Thus, the majority of your settlement will likely go to paying off what you owe your doctor or hospital in Omaha.
If a hospital has a medical lien against you, meaning you are indebted to the hospital, the hospital will automatically remove the amount owed from your settlement. Otherwise, it will be up to you or your attorney to pay for any outstanding medical expenses owed. If you choose a structured settlement, you will receive sums of money from the defendant periodically over the course of a few months or years to help you pay for future medical expenses as well.
If the accident forced you to miss work, such as for appointments with doctors or due to a temporary disability, part of your personal injury settlement will be an amount to make up for lost wages. A lost wage award can pay the full amount of income you likely would have made were it not for the accident and injury, including tips and employment benefits. If the accident gave you a permanent disability, a lost wage award could also include an amount to make up for your lost capacity to earn in the future.
Many personal injury settlements pay for other economic losses related to an accident, such as the costs of repairing damaged property or vehicles and traveling expenses. You will need to include any out-of-pocket costs on your claim in your demand letter, including receipts or financial statements as proof, to get reimbursed for these expenses.
Pain and Suffering
Finally, your personal injury settlement may include an amount awarded to you for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering pays for your intangible losses, such as physical pain, emotional distress, mental suffering and lost quality of life. An insurance company may offer compensation for pain and suffering to avoid the costs of going to trial. Otherwise, you will need to take your case to court to obtain pain and suffering damages. The amount awarded in pain and suffering will depend on the unique factors of your case, such as the gravity of your injuries.
Discuss your particular personal injury settlement with an attorney in Omaha for more information.