A guide to the most important factors in determining the value of a personal injury claim in New Jersey.
Liability is Important
One of the most common questions an injury lawyer is asked is how much is my case worth?
The value of a personal injury case in New Jersey depends on many factors. The first factor in determining the value of a case is the liability. How did the accident occur? In some cases liability is very clear. For example, if a drunk driver runs through a red light and hits the back of the car in front of him, there is no question that the drunk driver will be found to be 100% at fault in causing the accident. However, in many cases the liability is not so clear. There are some cases where the injured person may also be partially at fault. In New Jersey, for most cases, we have something called comparative negligence. Simply stated, as long as the injured person is 50% or less at fault in causing an accident, they will be entitled to recover money for their injuries. However, the amount that they recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to them.
The second factor in determining the value of a case concerns the nature and extent of the injuries. Generally speaking, the more severely injured an individual is, the greater the value of their claim. Obviously, an injury which is permanent and not likely to heal over time is worth more than an injury that is temporary. Another significant factor in determining the value of a case deals with the effect that the injury has had on the injured person's life. If an injury limits a person's ability to engage in routine activities it will be worth more money. Another factor to be considered is the amount of unpaid medical bills, if any. An injured person is usually allowed to recover the amount of their unpaid medical bills. Another element of damages to be considered is whether the injured person lost time from work, and if so, the amount of lost wages.
Lastly, one of the most important factors in determining the real value of the case is how likely is the injured person to actually collect money from the person who caused the accident. The amount of insurance coverage available to the defendant, often limits the amount of money that an injured person may actually collect. However, the ability to uncover available insurance coverage and assets of the defendant is one of the primary reasons you need an experience personal injury lawyer working for you. An experienced lawyer may be able to uncover the hidden assets of a defendant.
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