Written by attorney Jason Garrett Epstein

Determining the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

One of the most common questions personal injury attorneys get from clients is, "What is my case worth?" That is a complicated question that is not easy to answer. The value or worth of a case depends on many factors, as well as the quality of the evidence available.

It's all about the personal injury records

Until an attorney has had a chance to review all medical records related to your injury case, any number would be a wild guess. If you hire an attorney, once he or she has had a chance to review all of the relevant medical records, he or she will estimate the value of your case based on what juries have awarded for other people with the same or similar injuries. This is the most accurate predictor of case value.

Unfortunately, the crucial question when determining the value of a case is not what amount you want or what amount would make you happy. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible. It will never settle a case for more than it thinks your attorney will be able to get a jury to award if the case goes to trial. Therefore, the most important question to answer is how much juries have given in similar cases in the past.

Personal injury damages

When it's time to try and resolve your case, you are entitled to compensation from a third-party insurance company or directly from the person who was responsible for your injury. Compensation, or recoverable damages, is broken out in two categories: special damages and general damages.

Special damages: These are out-of-pocket costs, whether past or future, that must be proven with specificity. Examples include prescription expenses, lost wages, current and future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, cost of repairing or replacing property, and travel expenses.

General damages: These are more subjective damages. Though commonly referred to as "pain and suffering," they cover much more than that. Examples include pain, suffering, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life, disability, disfigurement, inability to sleep, and inability to lead a normal life. Typically, general damages are greater than special damages.

Putting it all together in a personal injury case

Being injured as a result of someone else's irresponsibility puts you in the middle of a complicated legal dance that involves many different players. It's possible to make mistakes that can negatively affect the value of your case. The best way to ensure that everything is being handled correctly, that you get the maximum possible result, and that you don't miss out on anything you are entitled to, is to consult with and hire an attorney whose practice focuses on personal injury law.

What a personal injury case may cost

Most attorneys will give free consultations for personal injury cases, and if you decide to hire an attorney, most will work on a contingency fee. This means that the attorney only gets paid if they get you money, and then the attorney fee is a percentage of the compensation you get. This allows you to hire an attorney without having to pay anything up front.

Additional resources:

Ezine Articles: Placing a Value on your Personal Injury claim (

American Bar Association: Personal Injury Claims (

Related Legal Guides:

Medical Lawsuit (

Vehicle-Accident Injuries (

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Avvo personal injury email series

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer