Most personal injury lawsuits actually settle before the court reaches a final judgement on the case. Many cases settle even before the trial begins. But what can a potential personal injury plaintiff in Texas expect to gain from a personal injury settlement? And when it is better to settle your potential personal injury lawsuit in Texas than pursuing it further in court? These questions are common for individuals who are considering filing a suit or have already been offered a settlement.
Calculating the “average” personal injury settlement is difficult. Every injury case relies on the specifics of that case: what injuries were sustained, how the injuries occurred, who the victims are, and who the defendants are. However, there are some general trends and specific examples of recovery we can use to explain the outcomes of various personal injury cases. For instance, the average personal injury settlement for injuries sustained in a car accident in Texas is $15,440, according to reports by the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. But this number is just an average and can mislead potential plaintiffs about what they might stand to recover in their specific situations. The only way to get a proper estimate on what you may stand to recover is to speak to your Irving personal injury lawyers or read below about some of the real-world recoveries that we have achieved for our clients already.
If you or a loved one was injured in Texas, consider taking your case to an Arlington TX personal injury lawyer at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and resources to take your case as far as it needs to go to ensure you are compensated for your injuries. For a free case evaluation, call us at (817) 476-1797.
What is a Personal Injury Settlement in Texas?
A settlement is a contract whereby one side typically agrees to pay the other side a specific sum of money in exchange for the other side agreeing to waive their right to sue for damages in court. The amount of money in a settlement will be negotiated based on damages but will almost never represent the full amount that the plaintiff might stand to win in court.
The disparity in the two amounts comes out of a consideration of the time value of money (people like to get their money now rather than later) as well as a consideration of the cost of litigating the case. Where the plaintiff’s chances of winning their case in court are higher, the settlement amount will increase proportionally.
For instance, if you have an 80% chance of winning your lawsuit for $10,000, the opposing insurance company may offer to settle your potential claim for $6,000. You are expected on average to recover $8,000 at the conclusion of your trial. Insurance companies count on you being uncomfortable with waiting until the conclusion of a trial, with paying litigation fees, or with the possibility that you may lose. By using those anxieties against you, they can get you to accept less than you might deserve, limiting their exposure and saving them money.
Personal injury plaintiffs should be aware from the beginning that there is a difference between a personal injury settlement and a court decision in a personal injury lawsuit. In a lawsuit, the court hears the arguments of both sides and then renders a decision based on the merits of the case. If the plaintiff succeeds in their personal injury suit, the court will order the defendant to pay awards intended to restore equity, which are referred to as damages. If the plaintiff loses, they still reserve the right to appeal the decision to a higher court if they feel that the trial court made a mistake.
Calculating Personal Injury Awards in Texas
To understand how much you may be entitled to in a Texas personal injury lawsuit, it is important to understand what elements go into the damage calculations. There are multiple types of damages, some of which overlap. First, “compensatory” damages typically compensate you for some direct harm, such as reimbursing you for medical expenses. Some damages are “economic” in that they deal with the tangible costs that are associated with your injury. This could include paying you back for medical expenses as well as paying lost wages. Other damages are “noneconomic,” because they compensate you for issues that you cannot put a price tag on, such as your pain and suffering or the loss of a loved one.
There are many specific damages in a personal injury case. The most common are damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Any medical expenses caused by the injury or accident can be reimbursed. If you missed work because of your injury, any of those lost wages in the past or going forward can be reimbursed. Lastly, you may be entitled to direct payments for your pain and discomfort. There are also other damages, such as damages for:
- Emotional suffering;
- “Loss of consortium” if your spouse is injured;
- Loss of counsel, companionship, or other damages if a loved one dies;
- Grief counseling; and
- Any other harms directly tied to the injury.
In general, we can calculate many economic damages by looking at financial records. Receipts and bills for medical procedures, hospital stays, and medical transportation all determine these damages. Your typical paychecks, plus any projected growth in earnings, help calculate damages for lost wages.
Noneconomic damages are harder to calculate, especially pain and suffering damages. Because Texas has no caps or limits on pain and suffering, these damages can often be the biggest part of a personal injury lawsuit. Everyone experiences pain and suffering differently, but more serious injuries commonly win higher pain and suffering damages. However, less severe injuries like whiplash can still lead to high pain and suffering damages if pain and discomfort are ongoing or permanent.
Lastly, you may be entitled to additional damages to punish the bad actor. If their actions were especially negligent, dangerous, or repeated, courts may award you “punitive” or “exemplary” damages on top of your other compensation.
Average Personal Injury Damages
Our Texas personal injury attorneys will never make any guarantees that you will win particular damages. These kinds of promises are unethical and unprofessional. However, we can explain some of the actual results we have achieved for other clients. Some of the following are personal injury case results of our actual cases. Under Texas law, attorneys must disclose what portions of these fees went toward attorney’s fees and expenses, so those will be noted in parentheses next to the total damages listed below:
- One of our defective product injury clients settled for $953,195 ($381,278 in fees and $359,385 in expenses).
- One of our truck accident injury cases settled for $6.9 million ($2.76 million in fees and $237,000 in insurance coverage).
- One of our construction worker injury clients recovered $640,000 ($256,000 in fees and $60,760 in expenses).
- One of our car accident injury victims recovered $295,000 against a truck driver ($118,000 in fees and $15,430 in expenses).
These cases are not necessarily the typical, average case, but they do give an idea of what is possible. Each case is unique and could be worth drastically different amounts. The specific injuries you face are often one of the biggest defining factors. For example, life-changing injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries generally yield higher damages. Sometimes, damages also depend on who you are and who the responsible party is. For example, juries may prefer to see an injured parent with children recover high compensation and may wish to see a large company pay for damages. However, damages may be lower if the victim is already wealthy or the defendant is a private individual who made a small mistake. Talk to an attorney to understand the specifics of your case, and what you might be entitled to.
Factors Affecting Personal Injury Settlement Offers in Texas
Particularly when dealing with a large corporate defendant, external factors may impact settlement offers in a given case. The following are some examples of considerations that you should be aware of in anticipation of a settlement offer for a personal injury lawsuit in Texas:
Depending on the nature of the accident and the public relation ramifications for the defendant, the actual settlement value may be less important to the defendant than the impact of seeing the case in the news.
For example, let’s say an amusement park failed to take proper safety precautions for one of their rides, causing the injury of their patrons who decided to sue the amusement park. The amusement park may choose to offer a significantly higher amount in settlement than they would otherwise because the news of hazardous conditions at the park created by the lawsuit might cost them more money in lost business in the long run.
Typically, settlement offers that are motivated by reputational concerns will include confidentiality measures such as non-disclosure agreements. We urge you to speak with one of our personal injury settlement attorneys before signing any agreement, as some of these additional requirements may be unnecessarily constrictive.
Sending a Message
There are many large corporations which make a habit of refusing to settle personal injury lawsuits. For the biggest corporations, this strategy serves as a warning to potential frivolous plaintiffs that they are not willing to negotiate and will fight each claim with everything they have. While the company may lose more cases in court and pay more in damages for those particular incidents, the prospect of facing a long, drawn-out court battle discourages many potential plaintiffs from pursuing their claim.
If you are concerned about your ability to afford the cost of a court battle with a corporation that refuses to settle, talk to one of our personal injury attorneys about flexible cost structures that only kick in once you receive your compensation.
Whenever a new issue is decided in a court of law, the decision of the court tends to influence other courts to follow their lead on similar issues. This is called precedent in the practice of law.
Companies that engage in new business practices where the law is not fully developed are scared of precedent, because an unfavorable decision may limit their ability to conduct their business. For example, rideshare operators like Uber have opted to settle lawsuits instead of facing court decisions about the employment status of their drivers.
If you have a potential personal injury claim against a large company involving new business practices, you should ask one of our personal injury attorneys about whether the company might be willing to pay more in a settlement offer to avoid a detrimental court decision on their business practices.
Dallas Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident in Texas, consider taking your case to the Texas plaintiff’s injury attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling various types of personal injury lawsuits. No matter what types of injuries you received, contact our law offices today at (817) 476-1797 for a free consultation on your case.