Valuing Personal Injury Cases
Personal Injury Valuation—Factors
Each personal injury case is different. There are several basic factors personal injury lawyers use to assess the potential value of any case.
Severity of Injury
How badly have you been injured? The basis of any personal injury award depends on the nature of the injury. The more severe an injury is, the higher the financial impact on the victim will be. Compensatory damages are awarded for medical bills, property damage, loss of earnings, loss of future earning capacity and out-of-pocket expenses which have a strong correlation to the severity of the injury suffered. Compounding this valuation would be any pain and suffering a victim has experienced arising out of the physical injuries along with any disabilities that may have resulted.
Clarity of Liability
The severity of a personal injury cannot stand alone. The injury must have been caused or contributed to by another party. Whether or not your are partially at fault in the case plays a substantial role in the case. The clarity of the liability in your case will help a personal injury lawyer determine the strength of your case.
Also, as with any legal dispute, the factual evidence plays a strong role in determining the extent of damages awarded. Victims that take affirmative steps to keep documentation of the accident will have a stronger case if the case ultimately goes to trial. This documentation should include pictures the scene of the injury, any medical bills or records and any correspondence with the other party or either party’s insurance providers.
Extent of Insurance Coverage
Remember, a victim can only recover damages to the extent that financial assets are available. The presence of an insurance company, along with the type of coverage offered, will have a strong impact on the value of your case. For example, take the case of the uninsured motorist. A victim in a crash with an uninsured motorist may only recover what personal assets the motorist has, which is almost always very minimal. Conversely, defendants covered by substantial insurance coverage increase the potential for a victim to recover the full amount awarded by the court.
Overall, placing a value on your case is as much art as science, so no lawyer will be able to predict an exact value beforehand. But a personal injury lawyer with experience can assess all of the factors in your case and give you a general picture of its strengths and weaknesses.