How much is my case worth is a common question from car accident victims
One the most common questions personal injury clients and prospect clients ask is, "what is the value of my injury case?" People who have been hurt in an accident that was not their fault often want to know the amount of money they will recover from their case for their pain and suffering.
One of the first questions an accident victims will ask an attorney is “How much do you think my case is worth?” Some are disappointed by the answer since a lack of understanding about how the personal injury lawsuit process works can lead to unreasonable expectations.
It’s important to remember that the majority of auto accident injury cases never get heard by a jury. Most cases are actually settled outside of court. And while it is common for statistics to be thrown around that suggest that the lion’s share of plaintiffs win when their cases are heard by a jury, victory in the courtroom may not always translate into adequate compensation.
Every case is different, and a whole host of factors can affect the valuation of any lawsuit. Generally, you can receive compensation for medical expense related to accident and injury, physical and mental pain and suffering, diminution of quality of life, loss of earnings, disfigurement, and loss of Loss of consortium.
One thing you should know is that there is no absolute "rule" or calculator in knowing the value of your car accident lawsuit. Insurance companies use their own tools and systems for determining their value of a case and how much money they will offer to settle a case. To get a better understanding, some of the important factors to use in determining the value of case are:
Liability - Liability refer to who is at-fault or responsible for the car accident. Cases where liability is clearly established can result in a higher settlement value than cases where liability is disputed. If you were partly to blame for the accident, your settlement will decrease by some amount based upon your "contribution" of fault. However, if you have no responsibility for the accident and injury that is a positive factor in the value of your claim. Likewise, if you are determined to be partially responsible, your percentage of fault is subtracted from the amount of your settlement or verdict, and the value of your case is diminished.
Injury / Damages - The more severe your injuries the higher the value. Also, the more "invasive" your medical treatment, the higher the value. For example, a complex fracture or broken bone is worth more than whiplash. Similarly, a neck injury requiring surgery has a higher value at settlement or verdict than a neck injury with 6 months of physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatment. Furthermore, multiple injuries are generally worth more than a single injury. With regard to a spinal injury, a herniated disc in your back impinging on your spinal cord has a higher “value” than a bulging disc.
Prior Injuries - A prior medical issues could potentially affect the value of your claim either positively or negatively. An aggravation of prior injuries is a significant factor in the value of your claim.
Prior Claims - Each and every time you make a claim for personal injuries, it is being recorded in a central database that the insurance company will use against you. They will often try to use this information to raise questions about your credibility and to suggests that you are a "professional" injury claimant. A history of prior claim can potentially affect the value of your claim negatively because it will be used to discredit you in front of a jury.
The last two factor are often times overlooked in so-called accident injury value calculators, but they do in fact play a significant part in the value of your personal injury auto accident.Venue or Jurisdiction - Jurisdiction is the authority of the court to resolve a controversy. Some venues are more conservative than others and have a tendency to award lower personal injury damages than juries in more populated, urban communities. An insurance claim adjuster will keep this factor in mind when negotiating a settlement. Let's take for example New York City, assuming all things being equal, a car accident personal injury case that is venued in the Bronx can have a substantially high settlement verdict value than a case venued in Manhattan / New York County. Where the case occurred and location where the lawsuit will be held are crucial in the value of your case.
Your Attorney's Reputation - Lawyers come in all shapes and sizes. Attorney advertisement seem to be everywhere. You can't turn on the television during the day time without seeing a commercial about hiring a lawyer. When you've been hurt in a car accident, choosing the right attorney can be overwhelming.
Ambulance Chasers It is important that you be aware of who Not to hire. Beware of hiring an "ambulance chaser." If you were in an accident and get a call, letter, or mailing from an attorney right afterward, stay away! Ambulance chasing is illegal in most States and that's for good reason. Ambulance chasers often times work with or hire "runners" to find injured auto accident.
Car Accident Runners Be aware if you are solicited by an unknown person at the scene of the accident, in a hospital, or in your home who claims to have a good lawyer who can help you with your auto accident cases. He or she will approach you in a friendly manner and promises to help you get a lot of money for your claim. This is a person you have never met before but all of a sudden he cares deeply about your accident. He will tell you that he knows a “good lawyer” who can help you win money from the insurance company. Avoid the “accident runner" at all cost. Ambulance runners paid to get as many injured accident victims as possible.
An experienced and reputable lawyer knows lots of bodily injury claims adjusters from years of dealing with the various insurance companies. He may have developed a solid and cordial working relationship with them. Additionally, he may have a reputation for not settling cases if the offer isn't high enough, or as a tough litigator with whom insurance companies don't want to fight.
As the discovery period ends, the attorney from both sides may engage in settlement discussions. Sometimes the lawyers can settle a case just by talking among themselves, but, in other cases, they will go to mediation. Mediation is a process in which both clients and both lawyers go in front of a mediator to try to settle the case.
In closing, valuing a personal injury lawsuit is subjective in that how much a case is worth will vary by insurance company and person doing the evaluation. That's why it is imperative that you hire someone competent, experienced, knowledgeable, and with the financial resources to fight the insurance company and wrongdoer for the most money possible to compensation your for your damages and pain and suffering.