What kind of recovery can I expect from a lawsuit?

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonUPDATED: Jul 16, 2021Fact Checked

The amount of recovery you can expect from a lawsuit is going to depend solely on the type of case you are bringing and on the extent of your damages. There is no average recovery amount, since every individual lawsuit has different circumstances and different amounts of loss or damages. 

Damages and Recovery from a Lawsuit

The purpose of allowing you to recover damages from a lawsuit is to “make you whole” or put you back into the position that you would have been in had a legal wrong not occurred. Thus, the recovery you receive is going to be based on what it takes to make you whole. For example:

  • In a contracts case, you are going to get actual damage. If the party breached a contract and it cost you $5000, then your damages are going to be $5000.
  • In a personal injury case, you are going to get both economic and compensatory damages- these include medical bills and lost wages (economic damages) and damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress (compensatory damages). Sometimes, punitive damages may be tacked on too, which are actually awarded for the purpose of punishing the defendant.

The specific amount of recovery from a lawsuit will either be determined by a jury, or it will be determined if you accept a settlement offer. A settlement is a single, one time payment that a defendant (often an insurance company representing the person that wronged you) agrees to pay you to entice you to give up your legal right to sue. If a defendant offers you a settlement that you do not believe is a sufficient amount of damages to compensate you, you’ll have the right to turn it down to try to negotiate a better one or to take a chance and see if the jury will award you a larger recovery amount from the lawsuit. 

Getting Help

Because every recovery or damages amount is different and every lawsuit is different, you will need a lawyer to help you estimate the recovery that you are likely to obtain. Make sure to consult with one before settling your lawsuit so you don’t walk away with less than you deserve. 

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Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

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