Nature, Extent, and Duration of Injury
In a personal injury case, the most important factors which determine the amount of damages awarded to the injured person are the nature, extent, and duration of the injury or injuries. A severe injury is worth more than a smaller injury. Furthermore, severe injuries are strongly supported by medical documentation such as x-rays and CAT scans, whereas some soft tissue injuries involving only muscle are difficult to detect by standard procedures. Clearly, cases that can be supported by solid medical documentation have the potential for greater monetary damages to be awarded.
In a personal injury case, the defendant’s liability (or degree to which he or she is at fault) must be determined. If an individual is completely responsible for an injury suffered by another, the compensatory damages awarded to the victim will be the full amount requested. If, however, the victim is found to be partially at fault in the incident, the amount of damages awarded may be reduced. In some instances, there may be more than one viable defendant and damages may be assessed in proportion to each defendant’s liability.
Comparative negligence is a defense available to lessen the amount that a defendant may have to pay to a plaintiff for damages. This defense is based on an assessment of fault towards the plaintiff. There are several types of comparative fault that vary from state to state.
Kansas uses the “limited” comparative negligence method. With this version, in order to be able to receive any damages the plaintiff must be no more than 50 percent at fault for the injury. If the plaintiff is no more than 50 percent liable, but is still partially at fault, then the award of damages will be adjusted according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault and the plaintiff’s award will be reduced accordingly. For example, suppose a jury awards you $100,000 in damages as a result of a car accident, but it finds you 30 percent at fault for your injuries because you did not properly use a signal. After applying comparative negligence, you would be entitled to $70,000 in damages – $100,000 minus 30 percent. In the above example, the judge or jury determines the degree of the each party’s negligence and the total damages. If you were found to be 51 percent liable, you would be unable to collect any amount.
Credibility of the Parties
Another factor that may impact upon the value of your claim in a personal injury case is something known as “jury appeal.” This complex combination of personality elements is significant in determining the likelihood of receiving the damages to which you are entitled. Characteristics that can help you win over a jury include being clear, detailed, and well-spoken in describing the events surrounding your case. Juries are also more apt to be convinced by statements that are supported by documented evidence in combination with a truthful witness.
The jury’s perception of the defendant is also very important. If the defendant is viewed as untruthful or reckless or attempts to shirk responsibility for the accident, a jury is more likely to be sympathetic to the plaintiff’s side. A good attorney will always try to find inaccuracies in the defendant’s version of events to diminish his or her credibility as much as possible and increase the chances of a positive result.
Age of the Plaintiff
It is perhaps an unfortunate fact that the age of a plaintiff can demonstrably affect the amount of damages awarded in a personal injury case. The logic in the system lies in the understanding that a younger person who suffers a severe injury is subject to many more years of pain, suffering, and mental anguish than an older victim. A younger person can also have a longer period of wage loss.
The witnesses who testify on your behalf can greatly affect the outcome of your case. Ideally, a witness should be able to describe in detail the events of the accident to help establish liability on the part of the defendant. Witnesses whose purpose is to establish damages should be able to clearly describe your condition prior to the accident so the jury can see the full impact of the injury. It is essential that the witness be viewed as reliable by the jury.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call Ray Hodge & Associates at (316)269-1414. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if we recover money on your behalf. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your rights.
Ray Hodge & Associates proudly represents victims and their families across the state of Kansas, including Wichita, Andover, Derby, Goddard, Haysville, Mulvane, Rose Hill, Newton, El Dorado and Hutchinson. Call today for a free consultation all over the state of Kansas. We have proudly served clients in Sedgwick, Butler, Sumner, Harvey, Kingman and Reno Counties.