The idea of pursuing anyone in court can be intimidating, especially when it’s somebody you know. However, if you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be your only chance at a full bodily and financial recovery.
Your first thought might be to accept the settlement offer provided by the insurance company, but beware. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations and strategically lowball offers, hoping they’ll be accepted without question. You can negotiate with an insurance company for more money, but only to a point. Insurance adjusters have monetary limits imposed on each case. That means you could be the best negotiator in the world and still not get the compensation you deserve.
The other problem with accepting an insurance settlement is the inability to recover compensation for non-economic damages. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your medical bills covered, but you won’t recover much more. To maximize your compensation, you need a lawyer.
1. You deserve compensation for non-economic damages
Non-economic damages are consequences that impact you in ways that don’t involve the loss of property or money. For instance, damage to your vehicle is considered an economic damage. The impact is financial. You’ll have to spend money to get your car repaired or buy a new one. Lost wages is also considered an economic damage. Although the impact can be equally severe, non-economic damages are different because the impact isn’t financial.
The non-economic damages outlined by personal injury lawyers Braud and Gallagher include:
- Pain and suffering
- The loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship and love
When applicable, all of the above damages can be included in your case. Ideally, you want the court to consider all of your losses. If one loss is discounted, you’ll have others to fall back on.
2. Your injuries could be worse than you know
The main reason to pursue non-economic damages in a personal injury lawsuit is that your injuries may be worse than you know. Some injuries – like soft tissue injuries – take time to show up. For example, when you injure a muscle, tendon, or ligament, you won’t necessarily notice right away. You could have a concussion or whiplash and not know for days or even weeks.
If you have a legal right to claim non-economic damages, do it. You need to collect as much compensation as possible, so you don’t end up paying out of pocket for the remainder of your recovery expenses.
3. Negligent people and businesses need a deterrent
Negligence is a major cause for personal injury accidents and sometimes unsafe conditions are known but ignored. For instance, companies that know about unsafe working conditions encourage workers to file workers’ compensation claims, which doesn’t consider fault. The problem with this is that the company’s dangerous working conditions remain hidden to the public and the cycle of injured workers continues.
Not all negligence is intentional. For example, in 2011, a Delaware man suffered severe spinal injuries while volunteering as a spotter for the Punkin Chunkin contest. He was driving his ATV 35 miles per hour to clear the recent round of chucked pumpkins when he hit a depression in the grass. He went flying into the air and his ATV landed on top of him. He spent eleven weeks in the hospital, lost sensation below his chest, and needed surgery.
The Chunkin Punkin staff didn’t put the depression in the grass, but they should have done a thorough inspection of the area beforehand and roped off any unsafe areas. The injured man sued the organization, and had new safety measures in place by the next year.
When you pursue a claim in court and your lawyer fights for non-economic damages, there’s a chance the company will be forced to change their practices. Depending on the claims, the company might be inspected and ordered to remedy situations or get shut down.
When companies know they can’t get away with unsafe working conditions (or any other violation that can lead to injury), they’re less likely to attempt to get away with it.
4. You might save lives
Nobody wants to be the reason a company gets taken down, but when people are getting hurt, someone has to do it. That doesn’t mean you need to become a safety vigilante, but consider that pursuing your own claim has the potential to protect and possibly even save people’s lives.
Talk to a lawyer before making any decisions
Before you determine what you will or won’t do, talk to a lawyer first. They’ll guide you to your best course of action and help you get the compensation you deserve.