How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
January 18, 2017
“One of the questions I’m asked most often is, “How much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. I wish there was. Every case must be evaluated independently, and every case is different.” – Paul Whiting
Nearly every injured claimant wants a straightforward answer to one simple question: How much is my case worth? With so much at stake after an accident, it makes sense to ask how much compensation to expect. Medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with an accident injury add up quickly, and those costs often pale in comparison to the pain, suffering and emotional distress endured while moving forward with life’s day-to-day activities, combined with the hard work of recovery.
Variables Affecting Settlements
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy way to determine how much your case is worth. Although arriving at a quick answer can be tempting, don’t fall for online personal injury “claim estimators” or “settlement calculators.” These tools might give a rough idea of what your case is worth, but they are just as likely to over or under estimate your compensation as they are to be accurate.
As a general rule, when liability is clear, the more severe the accident and life-altering the injury, the more the case is worth.
However, because there is never a substitute for solid legal advice, the surest way to determine what your case is worth is to spend time speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney. They know how to approach your case strategically and with your best interests in mind, and won’t make outlandish promises regarding outcomes.Variables affecting the outcome and value of your claim include issues such as:
When you meet with your personal injury attorney, they will help determine what your case is worth by taking into account the many factors that affect the outcome of your claim, including damages.
Your attorney and the legal system use damages to quantify the costs of your injury and to place a monetary value on what it will take to restore you to wholeness (your level of wellness prior to the accident). If you sustained relatively minor injuries in an accident, the cost to restore you to your level of functioning (wholeness) may be relatively low and include only medical and out-of-pocket expenses.
However, in some personal injury cases, the victim can never be made whole again. No amount of money can make up for a permanent traumatic brain injury, lost limbs, disfigurement, or death. But that doesn’t mean the defendant or insurance company shouldn’t pay damages for your pain, suffering, and future loss of income. Quantifying these types of damages requires a skilled personal injury attorney who understands your rights and how to fight for what you deserve.
Personal injury damages generally fall into three categories:
Legal Strategy and Planning to Win
Think of your case and settlement as you would the management of your health. Would you feel comfortable plugging your height and weight into an app that estimates how much anesthesia you’ll need before a surgical procedure? Probably not. Don’t treat your legal strategy with any less care or forethought.
When defending a claim against an insurance company, do everything within your power to ensure the success of your claim: secure a personalized, targeted and effective personal injury attorney who understands you and your case, and knows exactly what it takes to win.
Liability and Negligence: What party or parties were responsible for the accident or injury?
Severity of Injury: How does the injury impact your ability to function normally, both in the short and long-term?
Prognosis: Will medical treatment eventually restore you to full or normal function?
Treatment: Are you cooperating with all medical advice and treatment plans?
Insurance: If liability and/or negligence is clear, does the negligent party have insurance or other assets to pay for losses sustained as a result of the accident?
Economic Damages: (aka special damages): Including medical bills, lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses related to treatment such as transportation or the cost to hire household help as you recover from your injuries.
Non-Economic Damages: (aka general damages): Including pain, suffering, emotional trauma, disfigurement, loss of future ability to work, etc.
Extenuating Circumstances: When the at-fault driver was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or distracted while driving (e.g. texting).