What’s My Case Worth?
Personal Injury Attorneys are asked this question daily. The answer depends on these basic factors:
- The severity of the crash or incident
- The extent of injuries and damages
- The amount of medical treatment required
- The amount of money available from Insurance or other sources
- The share of liability
We use these five factors to determine both general and special damages. Special damages are those that are easy to calculate. This includes items like damaged property, medical bills, and lost wages. General damages are those things more difficult to calculate such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and trauma, and strain on relationship.
1. Severity of the Crash:
A severe crash does not always lead to severe injuries, but it does warrant a more valuable case. A dented bumper crash looks harmless compared to a t-bone collision with deployed airbags and a totaled vehicle. The more severe your crash, the more a jury is likely to value your case, and therefore, an insurance company will also put a higher value on it.
2. Extent of your injuries and damages:
Soreness and muscle pain can cause you to suffer for weeks or months. However, they are typically not as valuable to your case as broken bones and other more severe injuries. The worse your injury, the more valuable your case.
3. Medical treatment required:
This is important for two reasons. First, medical treatment can be used as evidence to prove the extent and severity of your injuries. Second, the medical bills produced during your treatment are an important piece of evidence in determining how to value the general damages such as pain and suffering. In other words, if your injuries require significant medical care at a high cost, your general damages will also be higher as it proves your pain and suffering are significant as well.
4. Available money
If a person with a minimum limit ($15,000) policy injures you, there is a good chance that, no matter the extent of your injury, you will be unable to collect more than that $15,000 from that person. If a business is responsible for your injury, there is usually enough insurance available. Also, many of us carry underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance that can fill in where the liable party’s insurance is lacking.
5. Share of liability
Finally, we come to the question of liability. If you shared some of the responsibility for the actual incident, then your case’s value will decrease. Slip and fall or trip and fall cases often will result in some shared liability. Juries will often believe that a person should watch where they step or watch the road in front of them. Therefore, a jury will often assign some proportion of liability to the injured person. If they believe you are 30% responsible and that your case is worth $100,000, then you will receive $70,000 (70%) from the defendant.
How much is your case worth? It’s a difficult question to answer, especially at the onset of a case, even though it is based on relatively simple calculations. Of course, our goal at the Rockafellow Law Firm is to make our clients’ cases as valuable as possible. Call us today for a free consultation.