San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyer (FAQ)
Auto accidents are the most common type of personal injury case in which an injured party (a plaintiff) claims that another person (a defendant) caused their injuries. An auto accident can involve any kind of vehicle, including:
- Small trucks;
- “Big rig” tractor trailers or “18-wheelers”;
- Bicycles; and
- Commercial vehicles.
An auto accident also can involve a pedestrian being struck by any vehicle.
According to the National Safety Council, of the 55.4 million people who sought medical attention for injuries in 2021, 4.8 million were the result of motor vehicle accidents. Other common personal injury cases include:
- Medical malpractice;
- Product liability;
- Dog bites;
- Slip and falls; and
- Wrongful death.
A personal injury case begins by an injured plaintiff filing a claim with the defendant’s insurance company. The plaintiff will try to show that the defendant behaved carelessly and caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The insurance company will either deny the claim or will try to settle the claim for the least amount possible.
Personal injury cases are usually resolved by settlement or through litigation. Parties will settle a case by negotiating what each party thinks is a fair award for the plaintiff’s damages. If the parties agree, the defendant’s insurance company will issue a check to the plaintiff in the amount the parties agreed upon. If the parties do not agree on a settlement, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit in court. The plaintiff will have an opportunity to present his or her case to a judge or jury, who will decide whether the defendant was at fault and, if so, how much the defendant should pay. At any time during this litigation process, the parties may still settle the case to avoid the cost of having a trial.
Most personal injury claims settle before they go to court. Only about 5 percent of cases ever go to trial. This means that 95 percent of cases reach a settlement before a trial even begins.
These statistics indicate that, in most cases, both parties benefit by settling the case without a court proceeding. A plaintiff might obtain a higher award from a jury if the case goes to trial, but the plaintiff also could receive nothing if the jury decides in the defendant’s favor. A settlement ensures that the plaintiff will receive something to help pay for their damages. Likewise, at a trial, a defendant could convince a judge or jury that they were not at fault or that actual damages are lower than what the plaintiff claims, but the defendant may settle the case instead to avoid the risk that the jury will issue a much higher award.
According to 2020 data provided by the Insurance Information Institute, here are the average jury awards for different types of personal injury claims:
- Product liability: $7,058,106;
- Business negligence: $3,110,297;
- Auto accidents: $2,673,427;
- Medical malpractice: $1,819,316; and
- Premises liability (slip and falls): $811,769.
The average award for all types of personal injury claim is $2,448,978.
Anyone can file a personal injury claim for themselves. However, having an experienced personal injury lawyer is something that every plaintiff should consider. You increase the likelihood of reaching a fair settlement in a personal injury case by having a personal injury lawyer obtain relevant evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, or take your case to trial if necessary.