How much do I keep from an accident settlement?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of another person, business, or entity you might be considering filing a personal injury claim. Before deciding whether or not to file your case, however, you should consider several factors including whether or not you can prove your case, how much your injuries are worth, whether the statute of limitations has expired, and whether you are partly or fully to blame for your own injuries.

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, "If I win my personal injury case how much can I keep from my accident settlement?" Unfortunately, the amount you will recover will depend on several factors.

Did you hire a lawyer?

If you did not hire a lawyer and the court decided you were not at-fault for any of your injuries, if you win your personal injury case, you will receive the full settlement amount. If, however, you hired a personal injury lawyer, you will receive the full settlement award, less the cost for the lawyer.

Personal injury lawyers will take a substantial percentage of your award. Assuming the injury lawyer wins your case you may have to pay them 33 to 40% of the settlement amount, although some lawyers will be willing to negotiate a lower fee. For example, if you receive an offer of $30,000 from the insurance company, you could receive $20,000 and your lawyer could receive $10,000.

With this in mind, it makes sense to think long and hard before hiring a lawyer. You need to consider whether the settlement amount offered to you would be more than the amount a lawyer could negotiate, less their fee.

Court decided you were partly at fault

Another consideration is whether or not you were partly to blame for your accident. Some states will not allow plaintiffs to recover compensation for their injuries if they shared any fault in the accident. Other states will allow them to recover the full amount if they were less than 50% or less than 51% to blame. Still other courts will simply assign a percentage fault to each party and divide the money according to fault.

If you win your injury case in a state which assigns a percentage of fault, your compensation may be reduced by the amount of your fault. For example, the court decides you are 10% negligent and the defendant is 90% negligent. In this case if the court decided to award $1000 only $900 would be awarded to you. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about your state's laws.

Filed my personal injury case after the statute of limitations

If you waited too long to file your personal injury case and the statute of limitations has expired, the court will dismiss your case. In this case you can expect no compensation for your injuries, regardless of the severity of your injuries or the amount of your losses.

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