This figure used to be a lot higher. For reasons no one fully understands, since the 1990s, the plaintiff’s winning percentage at personal injury trials has plummeted. So, insurance companies that were once motivated to make generous offers during mediation now make stingy offers.
Fortunately, as outlined below, insurance companies cannot make unreasonably stingy offers. So, a personal injury lawyer typically has something to work with.
Medical bills and property damage are usually two of the largest elements of a personal injury settlement. They’re also two of the most subjective elements.
Medical bills and other documents usually tell most of the story, but not all of it. In most states, lawyers must also prove these medical bills were reasonable and necessary. You can bet the insurance company will call a doctor to the stand who’ll testify the bills were unreasonable and unnecessary.
Additionally, past medical bills often don’t establish the need for future medical procedures. Furthermore, these documents often don’t indicate the victim’s pain level and general outlook at various points during the treatment process. Such information is relevant to a noneconomic damages calculation.
So, a personal injury lawyer often needs an independent doctor to review the evidence and fill in these blanks.
The totaled/not totaled designation might be the most controversial property damage question. Many vehicles are so badly damaged that, even though it might make financial sense to repair them, they’ll never be the same.
Cheap fixes are contrary to the purposes of damages in a civil case. Damages must put personal injury victims in the same position they were in before the injury, not enable them to limp forward and make the best of it.
Other economic losses include ancillary medical costs, like prescription drugs, and lost productivity at work.
Reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs isn’t enough to make personal injury victims whole again. These victims also deserve compensation for their emotional distress and other noneconomic damages.
It’s impossible to put a price tag on something like sleeping through the night without waking up and worrying about the future.
Therefore, many lawyers multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, and take the combination of economic and noneconomic damages to a mediation session.
Personal injury claims not only have damages issues. They usually also have liability (legal responsibility) issues as well. Most judges appoint professional mediators to help the parties resolve these issues and agree on a settlement amount.
Generally, mediation sessions last a full day. First, mediators listen to brief arguments from each said, in which the lawyers summarize their claims and defenses. Then, mediators bounce back and forth between the two parties, conveying settlement offers and counter-offers.
Usually, these offers and counter-offers get closer and closer together as the session drags on. Then, the two sides agree on a figure.
Mediation doesn’t always work. If the mediator cannot engineer a final settlement agreement, the mediator can usually at least narrow the issues for trial.
However, mediation is about 90 percent successful. Additionally, by this time, liability and damage issues are relatively clear. So, even though it doesn’t always work, mediation is almost always at least worth a try.
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