If you've got a personal injury case involving a finger injury, you're probably wondering how that specific kind of injury might impact the overall value of any settlement or court award you might receive. Any exact dollar amount will obviously depend on the unique facts of your case, but there are a few common factors to consider. In this article, we'll discuss the key considerations when attempting to value a finger injury claim, and we'll also look at some examples of past verdicts and settlements where a finger injury came into play.
Types of Finger Injuries
There are a variety of finger injuries with varying degrees of severity. Below is a list of the most common finger injuries a plaintiff might suffer:
- Bone fracture
- Ligament sprains
- Tendon strains
- Laceration of skin, blood vessels, nerves and/or tendons
- Nerve injury
- Injury to the fingernail or nail bed
How the Parties Value the Case
“Valuing” a case means coming up with a best guess at what a jury might award the person who is suing for a finger injury (the plaintiff), while also considering what the person being sued (the defendant) would be willing to ultimately pay. There's also the question of the amount each side might be willing to agree upon in order to settle the case before trial.
That's obviously a lot to consider. But the two big factors in valuing any case are the extent of the plaintiff’s damages -- how bad the finger injury is -- and how likely the jury is to find the defendant liable if the case goes to trial.
Estimating the Plaintiff’s Damages
Estimating with any degree of accuracy how much the plaintiff might receive is quite difficult for one main reason: at trial, it will most likely be a jury that ultimately decides just how much money the defendant must pay the injured plaintiff.
Some damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are easier to predict because “concrete” damages like these will mostly be based on the amount the plaintiff demonstrates he or she has paid or lost and/or will continue to pay or lose. For subjective, less concrete damages like “pain and suffering,” predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar finger injury cases in the past. Because every case and every jury is different, even the best analysis will still only predict pain and suffering damages within a broad range.
How the finger injury affects a particular plaintiff is also key in valuing damages. For example, if the plaintiff was an avid piano player, but suffers a partially-disabling finger injury, his damages based on “loss of quality of life” will likely be higher in the eyes of a jury than if he did not have any hobbies or pastimes that required manual dexterity.
If the plaintiff had a prior finger injury that made him more susceptible to re-injury, his damages might go down. Additionally, if the finger injury temporarily or permanently prevents a plaintiff from making a living, the defendant could be liable for the full extent of lost wages or diminished earning capacity.
Likelihood That the Defendant Will Be Found Liable
The other major factor in valuing a case is the likelihood that the defendant will be found liable at trial. If the plaintiff has little or no evidence proving the defendant was at fault for the plaintiff’s finger injury, the value of the case goes down considerably.
Even if the potential damages are high, a defendant will be less willing to settle and more inclined to take her chances at trial. Similarly, where fault is up in the air, the plaintiff will be more inclined to accept a low settlement because he runs the risk of getting nothing at trial.
Workers' Compensation Settlements
A workplace finger injury will typically only be paid out by the worker’s compensation carrier. The standards of compensation vary from state to state, but if a plaintiff is not completely disabled by the injury and does not have high medical bills -- no surgery was required, for example -- the worker’s compensation payment may not be very high. Learn more about workers' compensation cases.
Examples of Finger Injury Verdicts and Settlements
Here is a quick look at some real-world settlements and verdicts involving finger injuries:
- $8,000,000 verdict for plaintiff who lost three fingers and had 12 surgeries due to defective design of conveyor belt.
- $200,000 verdict for driver that suffered broken pinky in a physical dispute over fare. Driver could not work for eight months.
- $156,000 verdict for plaintiff that severed tip of finger while operating machinery in classroom. Finger was reattached and plaintiff was found 35% at fault.
- $18,500 settlement for plaintiff who suffered crush injuries to fingers and hand at daycare and required plastic surgery.