Head injuries range from concussions to the kinds of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can result in memory loss, cognitive impairments, and behavioral changes. When someone else is at fault for the accident that led to your head injury claim, at some point you'll want to consider how much you'd be willing to accept to settle the case.
Personal injury settlement can save both parties the time and cost of litigation, but the precise dollar amount you end up with will obviously depend on the unique facts of your case. And since head injuries can be severe, calculating the value of these kinds of claims can be particularly challenging. That said, there are common factors to consider, and we'll discuss those here. We'll also look at a few recent case outcomes for claims involving head injury.
Types of Damages in Head Injury Cases
There are two basic types of compensable losses ("damages") in head injury cases: special damages and general damages.
Special damages (or "economic" damages) are quantifiable, "out of pocket" losses arising from the injury, including:
General damages (or "non-economic" losses) are more subjective losses that aren't very easily captured by a dollar figure, including:
Factors That Can Influence Head Injury Settlement Value
There are many factors that can affect the value of your head injury settlement, including:
- Liability. Where fault for the underlying accident is clear, settlement value will be higher. When fault is in dispute, the defendant may be reluctant to come to the table with a fair settlement offer.
- Multiple defendants. Where there are multiple individuals who may be liable for the underlying accident, and each is represented by a different insurance company, there may be an issue as to how much each defendant should pay.
- Characteristics of the plaintiff. The plaintiff's age, occupation, likeability, and prior medical history will probably affect the settlement value.
- Where the case will be tried. Some venues are more conservative than others and have a tendency to award lower damage awards than juries in more populated, urban communities. Insurance adjusters always keep an eye on what could or might happen if he case goes to trial.
- Egregious conduct by the defendant. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for particularly culpable and egregious conduct. You likely won't add punitive damages to your claim value, but will instead use the potential for punitive damages as leverage during the settlement negotiation process.
- Mitigating Damages. Damages must be mitigated (or kept to a minimum) by the plaintiff when doing so is reasonably possible. For example, if you decided not to seek treatment after your accident and, as a result, your injuries are more difficult to treat, the insurance company might reduce the value of your settlement to reflect your failure to seek prompt medical attention.
If you're thinking about filing an insurance claim or lawsuit after a head injury, your best first step might be discussing your situation (and your options) with a personal injury lawyer.