You've received a settlement offer in regard to your serious injury, but it just doesn't seem fair. Yes, it covers your medical expenses and lost wages. But considering the negative impact this injury has on your life, don't you deserve more? You may very well deserve a higher settlement. Insurance company settlements often cover intangible aspects involved with an injury, but the company probably won't offer this compensation unless you demand it.
Tangible vs. Intangible Factors
Insurance carriers generally offer a settlement covering costs that underwriters can quantify. These are tangible expenses such as hospital and other medical bills, prescription medication costs, ongoing treatment such as physical therapy, repairs to or replacement of your damaged property, and lost wages while you recover.
However, seriously injured persons typically undergo other negative experiences directly connected to the incident. These experiences are not as easy to quantify in dollars and cents, but that doesn't mean they should not be included in a settlement.
Examples of Intangible Damages
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
You may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if you experience a combination of issues that would result in a psychological or psychiatric diagnosis of this condition. Health care practitioners look for three definitive symptoms.
Intrusion: You can't control your disturbing memories of the incident. Intrusion may manifest with episodes such as flashbacks, nightmares, and upsetting memories bothering you while you're trying to relax or socialize.
Avoidance: You avoid anything connected with the incident. After a car accident, for example, a person may avoid driving in the area where the accident occurred -- or refuse to drive at all.
Hyperarousal: You're in a continuous state of alert. You may have trouble sleeping, often feel a sense of danger for no justifiable reason, and startle easily.
Anxiety and Depression
You may not be experiencing the dramatic emotional issues that characterize PTSD, but it's common for a seriously injured person to have a certain level of chronic anxiety and depression after an accident or other harmful incident.
Ongoing Physical Pain
Physical pain that lingers after the accident can have a substantial negative impact on your life. You may have trouble doing activities you used to enjoy. You may have to cancel out on planned social events if your pain is bothersome enough. You might miss enough work that it becomes clear you'll need to change careers or even stop working altogether.
Loss of Consortium
This legal term covers aspects involved with positive family relationships, including intimacy with one's partner. If your relationship with your spouse has been compromised either emotionally or physically, you can include loss of consortium in your list of damages.
Sometimes intangibles can be translated into a certain amount of tangible cost. For instance, if you're dealing with post-traumatic stress or other emotional problems, your settlement might include money for counseling sessions. If you can't return to your previous job but you still want to work, you may obtain compensation for retraining.
What Can You Do Now?
Contact a personal injury lawyer to learn whether the settlement offer is unreasonable considering the circumstances. If you decide to pursue additional compensation, having an experienced lawyer for legal representation is highly valuable.
The injury lawyer will want verification of intangible damages, which may be provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist, your family doctor, clergy, and relatives, friends and co-workers. He or she may want you to keep a daily journal addressing how you feel both emotionally and physically. All of this helps a lawyer place a monetary value on intangible damages, which can then be presented to the insurance company in a demand for a higher settlement.