As a high-volume personal injury firm, one of the questions we get asked most often has to do with the potential settlement value of a case –or, in simpler terms, “What’s my case worth?” The short answer, which you’ve probably heard before, is “it depends.” To be sure, this is the answer you want to hear, as whenever an attorney does “quote” you a specific figure, they are almost always talking a big game just to get you to sign an agreement. Never retain an attorney who promises to achieve a certain outcome, as any true legal professional knows that this is simply not good practice.
No two personal injury or mass tort claims are ever the same. As such, there are no pre-formed guidelines as to what a case’s value will be. Personal injury cases are primarily concerned with sustained injuries, and there is obviously no way to accurately predict the cost of treatment, especially for severe injuries that require ongoing attention. There are, of course, other variables to be considered as well, including the overall strength of the plaintiff’s claim/ evidence, their own level of fault, and more. A personal injury settlement can truly range from a few thousand dollars to millions or tens of millions.
In any case, claimants should always hire a qualified personal injury attorney in order to ensure that their case stays within compliance and eventually recovers a higher-end settlement. Van Law Firm is continuously vetting new cases, so that we may assist accident victims and bring wrongdoers to justice. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other factors that dictate a case’s value.
Determining a Claimant’s Damages
There are multiple terms for the types of damages that are awarded in personal injury cases, although for the most part they are referred to as special and general damages.
It’s a little confusing to remember at first, but “special” damages are your out-of-pocket costs that can be easily calculated. Whenever you can present a specific document that states you lost a particular amount of money, that loss is categorized with other special damages. Typically, this will include medical bills, prescription receipts, past pay stubs that indicate lost earnings, and more.
On the other hand, “general” damages are much more difficult to quantify. General damages, for the most part, will encompass all the emotional and psychological trauma that was caused by the accident in question. These are heavily dependent upon evidence and accident severity; if, for example, an individual’s spouse is killed in an accident, then one can reasonably assume some level of emotional distress. In addition, family members and co-workers can also be brought in to testify as to how much an individual has suffered, which is usually pretty influential. Conversely, an individual who suffered a broken finger after a slip and fall is not likely to recoup as much in terms of general damages. Some notable examples include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, loss of companionship, and disfigurement.
More Questions to Ask
Oftentimes, attorneys will ask the following questions to help determine a case’s value:
For Starters, What Type of Accident?
Certain claim types are more severe than others and therefore will generally garner a higher settlement. Serious incidents such as medical malpractice and semi-truck accidents are LIKELY (although not guaranteed) to be worth more than a mild car accident or slip and fall. To be clear, this is purely a matter of comparison, as no claimant should ever walk away from filing a claim because it isn’t worth “big bucks.”
What is the Severity of Your Injuries?
The severity of your injuries will determine the extent of your treatment, which in turn will affect the overall settlement figure. Severe injuries will warrant more money, and some examples include:
- Paralysis and other spine injuries
- Cancer or other chronic conditions
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Loss of limb or extremities
- Sensory loss (blindness, deafness)
- Severe burns or lacerations resulting in disfigurement
Some common injuries that are a bit milder include broken bones, soft tissue damage, small burns, and small cuts. Claimants should keep in mind, however, that all injuries require proper documentation and evidence in order to be considered, usually through medical records and testimony either from your doctor or other medical experts.
Are You Partially at Fault for the Accident?
It’s important to be 100 percent truthful in answering this question, as it can change the outlook of your case dramatically. Now, just because you were partially at fault doesn’t automatically bar you from recovering damages, but state doctrines differ widely on this issue, so it’s imperative to discuss the matter candidly before moving forward in the suit process.
To give an example, the state of Nevada enforces a policy known as modified comparative negligence, in which all parties may receive a portion of the fault. The amount of fault that a person is assigned will lower their settlement by an equal percentage. However, the state has made it so that any party with over 50 percent of the fault cannot recover any compensation. These clauses are just one example as to the importance of evaluating and gauging your own level of the fault before filing a claim.
These questions and considerations are just the starting point, as the real work begins when the negotiations do. However, the sooner these questions can be answered effectively, the smoother the suit process will be as a whole.
Contact the Best Personal Injury Firm in the Nation
If you have any questions about a potential suit and its potential value, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced team of personal injury attorneys at Van Law Firm right away for a free case evaluation and consultation. We’ve built our firm squarely on the foundation of excellent client service, and with a 5-star rating on all review platforms, it’s not hard to see that others are taking notice. Call our office nearest you today to learn more.