My Love Of The Law

Personal Injury Settlements Are Not Your Personal Piggy Bank

by Alan Medina

When you hear stories about someone spilling coffee on themselves and receiving millions of dollars in damages, or stories about a robber breaking into a home and suing the homeowners for tripping over a toy left on the stairs, you might get the impression that you can file an injury claim for anything and have good hope of making money off your suit no matter how frivolous it is. On the other other hand, to find success in filing a claim, you need to have realistic expectations for your case.

Contributory Damages

When you file a personal injury case, lawyers will look at how much responsibility you have for the accident. For example, a restaurant might serve their coffee dangerously hot, but how the customer handles the coffee will depend on whether it spills or not. In some states, judges will decrease the amount you can receive by the percent of responsibility you bear for your injuries. For example, if you took the lid off and put the coffee between your legs, you are begging for trouble. On the other hand, if you simply mishandle the cup, your responsibility will be much less. Someone who receives $20,000 in damages but is 20% responsible for their injuries will only receive $16,000 in damages. 

Punitive Damages

When you hear about a company paying out millions of dollars in damages, you might think that anyone can charge a company with wrongdoing and then be set for life. In most if not all of these cases, the amount of money awarded stems from the court's desire to teach the company and/or others considering similar action what the costs of their actions are. The run-of-the-mill injury claim has little to no chance of qualifying for punitive damages. 


Once you look at how much your own actions contributed to your injuries, you should look at what evidence you have to show that someone else is responsible for your injuries. Traffic cameras, witnesses, doctor bills, pay stubs, and other documents can help show how a second party contributed to your injuries and what the extent of your suffering was. 

The best way to find success in a personal injury case is to gather the right evidence, present it in a convincing way, and have realistic expectations of how much money you can legally lay claim to. To navigate the intricacies of your case, you should hire a lawyer. 

For a personal injury lawyer, contact a law firm such as Lawyer, Lawyer, Dutton & Drake LLP.