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Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC
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How Settlements for Personal Injuries Are Computed

A serious injury that is the fault of someone else should not place a financial burden on the victim. A personal injury lawsuit can help the injured individual return to health without going bankrupt. Personal injury lawsuits include medical malpractice, poor premises maintenance, defective products, dog bites, motorist negligence, including accidents caused by drunk drivers and the establishments that negligently serve them, railroad accidents, and nursing home abuse.

Very large judgments, often including punitive damages for pain and suffering, tend to receive the most press. In fact, many more awards are based on some straightforward mathematics. Personal injury lawsuits in New Jersey, which are always filed in the New Jersey Civil Division courts, have clear parameters. But the amount of money that a plaintiff might actually win in a personal injury lawsuit is largely determined by four factors:

  1. Past, present and future medical expenses. These include a computation for anticipated expenses for the remainder of your life.
  2. Pain and suffering. While a bit more challenging to calculate, these can be tied to the costs of required psychological care.
  3. Out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. If, for example, the injury requires a wheelchair, the defendant may have to pay for a special van for transportation and an access ramp for the home.
  4. Lost income. A plaintiff who can prove a partial or complete loss of ability to earn an income may be entitled to compensation for lost future earnings.

Nearly every personal injury attorney works on a contingency basis. The lawyer does not charge for services until a satisfactory judgment or settlement is reached. Because personal injury attorneys depend on a satisfactory outcome to earn their fees, they tend to take only those cases they believe they can win.

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