Whenever I sign up a new client, he or she at some point will invariably ask me the same thing: “how much money is my Personal Injury claim worth?” I always tell them the same thing: there’s no way to know at this point. I say this for of a few reasons. First and foremost, I don’t want to give a number and then ultimately settle the case for far less. This would lead to a disappointed and unhappy client. However, the truth of the matter is, there are quite a few variables which lead to the value of a case. In the very beginning, many of these variables are still unknown and because of that, the final value is still unclear. And remember, it’s always better to have never gotten in the accident in the first place.
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As we discuss the value of a Personal Injury claim, what we are really talking about is what an insurance adjustor is willing to give you in order to settle your claim. The insurance adjustor wants to keep what the insurance company has to pay you to a minimum. That said, remember these words from Abraham Lincoln, “A good settlement is better than a good lawsuit.” A settlement avoids the costs of litigation which include filing, service, expert fees, deposition fees, mediation fees and other expenses.
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Damages and ‘Making You Whole Again’
I now want to draw your attention to what will become your new favorite word: damages. The insurance company for the responsible party will pay you (or at the least should pay you) for your damages. This is how we will determine the value of your claim.
Damages are all the ways your life has been affected by the accident.
It’s easy to put a dollar amount on some damages, for instance, your medical bills and property damage. However, it becomes much more difficult to quantify other damages, like your pain and suffering. These things are all called compensatory damages because they are meant to compensate you and make you “whole again.” In my opinion, this is another ridiculous legal phrase because there is no way to truly make a permanently injured person whole again. However, money can make you feel just a tad bit better about all the horrible things you had to go through.
- Loss of Income and Educational Experiences Damages
- Family Experiences Damages and Loss of Consortium
- Emotional Damages
- Future Medical Care
Loss of Income and Educational Experiences Damages
There are other types of damages that you may want to be mindful of in your case that would determine the potential worth of your claim. Perhaps you took time off of work because you were incapacitated or had to go to doctor appointments. That loss of income is also a type of damage. Maybe you had a vacation planned but were unable to go. That loss of a social experience is also a type of damage. If you are in school and missed classes or tests, that would be loss of educational experiences damages.
Family Experiences Damages and Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is the claim your spouse would have against the wrongdoer for hurting you. If you are married and couldn’t be a normally supportive spouse with things like cooking and helping out with the children, that would constitute loss of family experiences damages. This also includes sexual intimacy and companionship, too. How does loss of consortium affect the value of your claim? Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get an insurance adjustor to settle with your spouse for this type of damages. Typically, loss of consortium only comes into play after litigation is filed and the question is posed to the jury.
Another common type of damage is emotional damages. This includes stress, anxiety, depression, nightmares, and more. When determining what your claim is worth, it is difficult to claim emotional damages. Why? Emotional damages are extremely hard to prove. If you made mention of any of these problems to any of your doctors and they documented it, then it becomes much easier to use.
Future Medical Care
There are also damages which include the need for future medical care. Imagine that you hurt your back in a car accident and now suffer from herniated disks. It is very probable that you will continue to suffer from that injury for the rest of your life. Chances are you will need chiropractic or orthopedic care sporadically in the years to come. To accurately estimate the value of your claim, a projection of what those medical appointments and prescriptions will cost you should go into your compilation of damages.
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Adding up the Damages to Determine What a Claim is Worth
Now that you know the different types of damages, it becomes easier to determine the worth of your Personal Injury. You add up all the types of damages, throw in a number for pain and suffering and loss of experiences and determine what your damages will be in the future. Keep in mind that a lot of these figures are subjective and will vary between people. However, you will at least have a general idea of how you should value your case.
Go Over Your Damages During A Free Consultation
Speak with an experienced Personal Injury attorney when you think you have a claim. By going over all the damages, you will get a much better idea of what steps you should take and the potential value of your claim. We also handle Personal Injury cases on a contingency basis. That means you don’t pay anything unless we recover money for you. Call (561) 232-2222 or submit the contact form here to schedule your free consultation today.
About the Author
Attorney Grant J. Skolnick is the Director of the Personal Injury Department for The Ticktin Law Group. Mr. Skolnick focuses on personal injury, wrongful death
Editor’s note: updated on December 10, 2018