A back injury can throw your entire life off course. As you grapple with significant physical pain, mounting medical expenses, and a loss of income, you may wonder how much compensation you could recover in a back injury lawsuit.
Here’s what you need to know about the various factors that could affect the value of your case.
Will My Back Injury Lawsuit Go to Trial or Settle Out of Court?
When you file a back injury lawsuit, two primary outcomes are possible: the case can go to trial or settle out of court. Most back injury lawsuits settle before reaching trial for a handful of reasons.
First, trials are time-consuming. By the time both sides complete the discovery process, wait for the court to schedule a trial, and make their arguments in court, several months might have passed since the initial injury. Both sides often prefer to settle well beforehand to reach a quicker resolution and reduce stress.
Second, trials are costly. Preparing for and participating in a trial usually involves numerous expenses, including attorney fees, court costs, and the costs of expert testimony. The injury victim may lose income due to spending time in court rather than returning to work. Settling is often the more economical choice for all parties.
Third, there’s always a degree of uncertainty with a trial. No one can predict how a judge or jury will rule. And once the court renders its verdict, the decision is binding for both sides. Settling out of court provides both parties more control over the outcome and allows them to avoid unpredictable results.
However, if the other party or their insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement, taking your case to trial might be the best option. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action, considering the specifics of your back injury and the potential risks and rewards of both pathways.
What Factors Influence the Value of My Back Injury Lawsuit?
Here are just a few of the factors that might influence how much your back injury lawsuit is worth:
- The severity of your back injury
- How long you need medical treatment to recover
- The types of medical treatment you require
- Your future medical treatment needs, if any
- The sum of your medical expenses to date
- The estimated cost of necessary future medical expenses
- Whether you develop a permanent disability or impairment
- The value of your income losses if you have to miss work
- Any projected losses in your future earning capacity
- The pain and suffering you experience due to your back injury
- How the back injury affects your quality of life
- Your rehabilitation or therapy needs
- Your pre-existing conditions, if you have any
- Your age at the time of the injury
- How the back injury affects your personal relationships
- The credibility of any witnesses who testify in your favor
- Whether you have expert testimony to support your claim
- The available evidence (photos, videos, etc.)
- The skill and experience of your attorney
- The available insurance policy limits
- The defendant’s financial resources
- Your history of similar claims or injuries, if any
- The overall strength and consistency of your case
What Is the Average Payout for a Back Injury Lawsuit?
No two back injury cases are alike, so there’s no average payout when it comes to back injury lawsuits. However, plaintiffs can seek different types of compensation to address the various consequences they suffer due to the back injury.
You might pursue compensation for:
- Medical Expenses, including hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any other necessary medical treatment
- Rehabilitation Costs
- Home Modification Costs, including wheelchair ramps, railings, etc.
- Lost Income if you miss work while healing from your injury
- Loss of Earning Capacity if the injury results in a permanent disability or impairment that prevents you from returning to work
- Pain and Suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the injury
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life if the injury prevents you from enjoying hobbies or activities you once loved
Will a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Back Injury Lawsuit?
Yes. If you have a pre-existing condition, it could significantly influence the outcome of your back injury lawsuit.
Insurance companies often use pre-existing conditions to minimize plaintiffs’ injuries. For instance, insurers might use a pre-existing condition as proof that a current back injury stems from the plaintiff’s past rather than the incident in question.
When you have a pre-existing condition and file a back injury lawsuit, you can expect the defense to thoroughly examine your medical history. They will aim to find any evidence of previous back problems to reduce their liability for your current injury. If this happens, you’ll need strong evidence to differentiate between your past condition and the new injury.
Maintaining open communication with your healthcare provider is key before and during your lawsuit. Your doctor should document how the most recent incident has affected your pre-existing condition, distinguishing the old injury from the new. This medical testimony can play a critical role in substantiating your claim.
Remember that having a pre-existing condition does not disqualify you from seeking compensation. However, it underscores the importance of transparent communication and detailed documentation.
Your attorney will work to clearly establish that the recent incident aggravated or exacerbated your pre-existing condition, resulting in additional expenses, pain, or disability.
How Can I Maximize My Compensation After a Back Injury?
You can take steps after a back injury to protect your legal rights and increase your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
After seeking medical treatment:
- Follow Your Doctor’s Orders: Adhere strictly to the treatment plan your doctor prescribes. If you skip appointments or ignore medical advice, the opposing party could use it against you to suggest your injury is not as serious as you claim.
- Document Everything: Keep copies of your medical records outlining the treatments for your injuries, invoices from doctor’s visits, and receipts for any other injury-related expenses. Write down everything you recall from the incident that injured you before your memory fades.
- Gather Evidence: Evidence such as photos of your injuries and the accident scene, video footage from surveillance or traffic cameras at the scene, the clothes you wore when you suffered the injury, and eyewitness statements can bolster your claim.
- Hire an Experienced Attorney: Hire an attorney with experience handling back injury cases. A lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and handle every aspect of your case while you focus on your recovery.
- Avoid Admitting Fault or Giving Statements: Refrain from discussing your case with or providing statements to the opposing party or their insurance company without your attorney present.
- Stay Off Social Media: Posting about your injury or activities on social media could compromise your claim. Opposing parties often monitor injury victims’ social media accounts for evidence they can use to undermine your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Back Injury Lawsuit?
Yes. You significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome in your case by hiring legal assistance. A skilled lawyer can guide you through every stage of the legal process and argue aggressively for the fair compensation you are due.
Here are just a few of the ways a lawyer can help with your back injury lawsuit:
- Evaluating the merits of your back injury case
- Identifying all liable parties and possible sources of compensation
- Gathering useful evidence from the accident scene
- Compiling medical evidence illustrating the severity of your back injury
- Interviewing witnesses to support your claim
- Communicating with medical professionals to gain insights into your injury
- Drafting and filing necessary legal documents in a timely manner
- Calculating the true value of your claim, including future expenses
- Protecting your rights against aggressive insurance adjusters
- Negotiating with insurance companies to settle your case out of court
- Representing you during court hearings and proceedings
- Securing expert testimonies to strengthen your case
- Challenging any attempts to downplay your injuries
- Advising you on potential settlement offers
- Preparing you for depositions and court testimonies
- Highlighting the negligence or fault of the opposing party
- Keeping you updated on the progress and developments in your case
- Appealing the case if an initial decision doesn’t go in your favor
What Evidence Can My Attorney Use to Strengthen My Case?
Because back injuries are not always apparent, concrete evidence is essential when building a solid lawsuit seeking compensation.
Your personal injury lawyer can gather various types of evidence to establish the facts of your case, validate your claim, and demonstrate the other party’s liability.
Here’s an overview of some of the evidence your lawyer might use to strengthen your back injury lawsuit:
- Medical Records: These documents detail the extent and nature of your injuries, the treatments you receive, the medications your doctor prescribes, and recommendations for the ongoing care of your injury. These records provide a clear picture of the severity of your injury, how it has affected your health, and the potential future medical treatments you will need.
- Photos: Pictures from the scene where you suffered an injury can reveal valuable details about how the event occurred. They can show visible hazards, property damage, road conditions, and other pertinent information.
- Witness Statements: People who witnessed the accident or harmful incident can provide testimonies that corroborate your account of what happened. Their perspectives are often useful in establishing the sequence of events.
- Expert Testimony: Medical professionals or accident reconstruction experts can provide insight into the severity of your injury, the cause of the incident or accident, and the potential long-term consequences of the injury.
- Surveillance Footage: If cameras including traffic, dashboard, or surveillance cameras captured the incident or accident, this footage can provide irrefutable evidence of how the event unfolded.
- Police Reports: If law enforcement responded to the accident, their official reports could offer objective accounts of the incident, including details about the parties present, witness testimonies, and initial findings.
- Diaries or Journals: Keeping a daily account of your pain levels, emotional well-being, and challenges post-injury can offer a personal perspective on how the injury affects your day-to-day life.
- Documentation of Income Losses: Your lawyer can use pay stubs, employment contracts, or letters from your employer to prove financial losses you incur due to missed work days.
- Rehabilitation and Therapy Records: If your back injury requires rehabilitation or therapy, records of these treatment sessions can illustrate the ongoing consequences you have endured.
- Communication Records: Any correspondence with insurance companies, responsible parties, or medical professionals can serve as useful evidence, especially if it contains admissions of fault or highlights attempts to minimize your claim.