One of the most common questions personal injury lawyers get from potential clients is, “How much is my case worth?”
While it is very common for people who have been injured in a collision to want to know the amount of money their injuries are worth and what type of compensation they can expect to receive, the value of a case is actually more complicated than just adding up one’s medical expenses. In fact, there are many factors that go into determining the dollar amount a car accident injury claim is worth.
Ten Key Items That Will Influence Your Claim’s Value
Some of the common factors that will affect the value of your case are:
- Liability. Often the police report will identify who was at fault for the accident. If the other party was fully at fault and there was no shared fault on your part, you can expect the amount of compensation to be higher.
- Statements. Following an accident, some drivers often say the words, “I’m sorry.” It’s important to remember that anything you say to the other driver, police officer, or other people at the crash scene can be used against you to establish fault. So if the other driver has said these simple words or anything else that may be an admission of fault, it is essential to the outcome of your claim that you tell the police officer and your attorney.
- Witness testimonies. When unbiased bystanders come forward and make statements about what they saw at the scene of the accident, it can strengthen a case. For instance, if you have a witness who is says that the other driver was using the phone when he ran a red light and hit your vehicle, the insurance company is likely to offer you a higher settlement amount.
- Photographs. Pictures can be very compelling to a jury, which is why it is important to take photographs of the accident scene and of each of the vehicles involved as well as your own personal injuries. When photographs show a person appearing battered and bruised and a vehicle looking mangled, it can sometimes be enough for an insurance company to offer a victim more money.
- Medical care. Insurance companies often assign a higher dollar amount to injury claims when medical attention is sought quickly. That’s one reason why injury victims should visit the emergency room or their primary care doctors as soon as possible following car accidents. When victims fail to seek medical care in the hours or days following a collision, an insurance company will question whether the injury occurred from something else in the days or weeks following the crash…or it might dismiss the injury as insignificant.
- Type of injury. If the injury is considered a hard injury (such as a broken bone, joint injury, nerve damage, spinal cord injury, head trauma, brain injury, etc.), then the amount of money an insurance company values the case at will be higher than if the injury was a soft tissue injury (such as a strain, sprain, or bruise). Obviously, when a very serious injury occurs that involves a long recovery process or if a permanent injury happens in a crash, the dollar amount of a case can increase significantly. In fact, the type of injury a person suffers is one of the biggest factors that affects the dollar amount of a car accident injury claim.
- Lost wages. When a car accident causes a person to suffer an injury that leads to missed work and lost income, an injury claim will take into account the amount of money a person lost in wages and benefits.
- Pain and suffering. When a victim suffers anxiety, fear, mental anguish, emotional trauma, or post traumatic stress disorder following a crash, the value assigned for pain and suffering increases.
- Car insurance policy limit. Every car insurance policy has limits, so the value of a case may only be worth the maximum of a policy. This is why it is critical to get an attorney involved early on, because he may be able to discover other insurance policies or liable parties that could increase the amount of money you can recover.
- Your legal advisor. Insurance companies often present lowball offers to victims of car accidents who don’t have legal representation. Also, insurance companies know which attorneys are willing to take cases to trial in order to get their clients fair and just recoveries. This is why it is essential that you have an experienced attorney on your side—one who has achieved great settlements for clients but who also has won successful verdicts in court.
As you can see here, a lot of variables go into determining the value of an injury case. These factors can either increase the amount of compensation you will be offered or limit the amount of money you can expect to receive. We always strive to get our clients the maximum compensation possible and would be honored to help you too. Please give us a call for a complimentary consultation.