Although two individuals may suffer similar or even identical injuries after an accident, the reality is that no two settlements are ever exactly the same. This is because there are numerous factors that are taken into consideration when determining the value of an individual's claim. The main issues that make a difference to the size of someone's claim are: the extent of the injury or injuries, the impact that they have on the injured party's life both in the short and long term, the amount of special damages claimed in relation to the injury; their personal circumstances, who the defendant is and the extent to which each party is found to be liable (although the procedure in relation to this varies from state to state).
Special damages are paid for direct losses suffered by an injured party as a result of the accident. They can be divided into two broad categories: medical and non-medical special damages. Medical special damages can include hospital treatment, ambulance charges, drugs, physical therapy, and cost of X-rays, ointment and bandages amongst others. It's important to make sure that you keep a record of all of these types of expenses, no matter how financially trivial they may seem. Other types of special damages (non-medical) include claiming for any time when you have been unable to work. It is vital that you obtain an official letterhead from your employer to evidence your employment and salary. If part of your remuneration involves commission, or if you get paid for overtime, make sure that this is included in the letter.
These are damages that are payable to an accident victim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity. These are the types of damages that vary enormously from person to person, and take into account physical suffering, emotional trauma and loss of enjoyment of life. For example, although two people may suffer exactly the same injury, the impact on their lives can be very different. A manual laborer who loses the little finger on his left hand will not suffer the same degree of disruption to his life as a professional violinist. In the latter case, the effects of the accident may be so traumatic as to signal the end of the musician's career, which could have a huge financial, as well as psychological, impact on him.
The age of an individual can also determine the amount of damages they receive. Children under the age of twelve usually receive high settlements because of their youth and relative innocence. Accident victims who are young teenagers, to those who are in their late fifties, can generally expect to receive a normal level of settlement. People who are in their sixties and over normally receive high settlements on the basis of their later stage of life, and because in the event that the case has to go to trial, people in this age bracket are perceived to be more frail or vulnerable (whether or not this is actually the case) by juries.
Whatever the nature of your personal injury claim, it is vital that you present your claim for special damages fully and completely, providing evidence of expenditure and losses as appropriate. In terms of general damages, make sure that you explain fully the symptoms you have or are experiencing, as something that you may consider trivial or minor may in fact make a difference to the way in which your claim is valuated. If you have questions regarding your personal injury claim, contact a specialist attorney without delay.