There are many factors that can affect the value of a case, and more importantly, how much money you will actually get to compensate you for what you have gone through. The settlement value of a case is a prediction of what a jury will decide your claim is worth. Different juries will arrive at different verdicts under the same set of circumstances.
Jurors have their own personal biases that can either help or hurt you. This unpredictably leads to a wide range of results. So, for settlement purposes, we guess at what we think the jury would award. The settlement value of a claim increases over time. More than 95% of the time, the value of a case will increase from the time before suit is filed to the time of trial. We have had cases where the pretrial offer was more than 50 times the pre-suit offer.
This is particularly true in medical mistake cases. These are virtually impossible to settle without filing a lawsuit. In other injury cases, we have settled cases for over a million dollars when the pre-suit offer was zero.
Who decides whether to settle the case? Our attorneys present the facts to the client and let them make the call. There are two choices: (1) settle the case, or (2) move forward with the litigation process.
Studies Looking at Value of Personal Injury Cases
There is data available to give victims some idea of the size of personal injury awards in Georgia. The nationwide median jury award in a personal injury case was approximately $40,000 and plaintiffs win 48% of jury trials. The average personal injury verdict, as opposed to the median verdict, is $985,675.
Verdicts in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits
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Jury verdicts may vary from one county to the next using the same facts and injuries. However, clearly the larger jury awards in Georgia are in our biggest urban city and counties (City of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb County).
Note that our very best cases generally settle out-of-court. Insurance companies like settling the best cases and letting the weaker cases got to trial.
Having quality counsel does often make a difference. Insurance companies need to understand there are repercussions for offering a deal that is not fair. You need an advocate they know is
coming after them and looking for a big verdict. Paradoxically, attorneys that frequently try cases and get big verdicts are the same ones getting the best confidential settlements that no one ever hears about.
So if you have a good case, get experienced counsel with a track record who is willing to fight for you. This is your best change of pushing past the verdict and settlement averages listen above. That data include cases handled by lawyers who do not have a clue about how to handle a tort case and, maybe worse, people without law degrees acting as their own attorneys.
The Factors That Matter in Personal Injury Cases
As we have said above, verdict statistics and our firms success in obtaining favorable settlements or trial judgments is not predictive of the results in any individual case. It sounds cliché but…. your case is unique. Figuring out what a settlement payout or verdict would be is not something you can determine using some advanced calculus formula.
You need to discuss with your lawyer the specific facts of your case and the possible defenses to your claim. Then, you can come to a conclusion about what is acceptable to resolve your case.
This discussion with your advocates will include:
- the type of injuries you suffered
- the economic damages (lost wages and medical bills)
- the amount of available insurance
- how clear the causal connection is between your injuries and the accident
- how strong your liability case is
- the quality of all of the witnesses
- the expected jury perceptions of you and the defendant
- how your pain and suffering from the injuries have impacted your life
What does not matter? A lot of things that you really care about should count for settlement value but simply do not:
- You could have died (what matters is what did happen)
- You have gotten behind in paying your bills
- How you couldn’t buy a new car with the money you got for your property damage
- All of the things that could have happened during surgery but didn’t
- Medical problems you could have that are not likely to occur
These things are not admissible at trial and the adjuster will not consider them in determining how much money they should offer. Is this fair? No. What do you do? You fight harder to get compensation for those things that you can get compensated for at trial: your medical bills (even if they have been paid), your lost wages, and, most importantly in every case we handle, your pain and suffering.
We already touched on the other huge variable that the insurance company considers right from the beginning: the location of the trial. In Georgia, Fulton and DeKalb’s County are favorable venues for plaintiffs. Conversely, in more rural areas of Georgia the awards are more conservative. This is true not just in Georgia but throughout the United States — jury awards are typically higher in urban areas than in rural areas.