If you’re hurt in an accident like a motorcycle accident, car accident, or slip and fall accident, one of your first questions might be how much your personal injury case is worth. This is a common question.
The primary thing to keep in mind when it comes to getting the amount of compensation you deserve is investigating your accident and figuring out its cause. If you work with a personal injury attorney, they can investigate and then work on pursuing compensation from all the responsible parties.
After you’re in an accident that someone else caused, you’re entitled to reimbursement for the expenses that you incurred because of the accident and your injuries. Every claim is unique, and for an attorney to even give you an estimate of what your case might be worth, they have to initially do in-depth research.
As well as out-of-pocket economic expenses, you might also be able to recover compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and intangible losses you sustained because of your accident. These get even trickier to estimate.
With these things in mind, the following are six of the big factors that tend to play a role in the value of a personal injury settlement.
1. Injury Severity
One of the fundamental factors that will impact how much your case and settlement are ultimately worth is the severity of your injuries.
If a case were to go to trial (which most don’t) theoretically, the jury looks at how permanent and impactful your injuries are. If your injuries led to disfigurement or a disability, then your claim’s value is going to be higher than if you sustained minor injuries.
Catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries are going to mean a bigger settlement than an injury like a sprain or strain that’s going to heal relatively quickly.
Some of the things that might reduce the value of your settlement include the following:
- Soft tissue injuries only
- Expenses that are mostly for a medical diagnosis instead of treatment.
- Treatment from people who aren’t doctors.
- Not needing medication.
- A very brief recovery period.
- No visible scars or loss of use that is permanent or permanent injuries.
- You’re able to care for yourself without any help.
- You only had to go to a few medical visits.
2. The Impact on Your Life
When valuing a personal injury claim, the impact the accident had on your life will come into play.
Sometimes injuries can dramatically disrupt your life. They can impede your ability to work and earn a living, provide care to your family and do household tasks and chores.
If you’re hurt in a way that’s disrupting your daily life, this will be factored in when determining your personal injury settlement value.
3. Your Expenses
There are some economic damages that are pretty straightforward to calculate, and these will be used to form the basis of your claim.
Some of the things that will be looked at for your economic damages include:
- The cost of your past medical bills
- Whether you’ll need future medical care related to your accident and injuries, and how much future medical care could cost.
- If you’ve been out of work during your recovery.
- Whether you’ll be able to go back to work.
- How much have you lost in terms of wages and benefits from being away from work?
- If you’ll need ongoing rehabilitation, care, or physical therapy
- If your injuries are permanent
- Whether property damage occurred
Even if your health insurance covers part of the cost of your medical expenses, you will generally be able to receive compensation. Your health insurance company might be entitled to reimbursement for the payments they made.
If your medical bills have coverage from your car insurance, those expenses generally aren’t able to be prepaid through the process of personal injury.
4. Less Tangible Losses
Along with the economic costs you pay out-of-pocket, you might be able to recover compensation for less tangible losses you suffered.
These can include emotional distress and pain, and suffering. An insurance company will frequently use a multiplier, or personal injury calculation, to estimate pain and suffering.
Things that are part of figuring out the value of these losses include:
- The length of your recovery
- If you’re dealing with PTSD, emotional distress, or other mental health disorders following the accident.
- How has your life changed because of your accident?
- If you can enjoy the activities you did before your accident.
- Your overall health before your accident.
- If your injuries are permanent or temporary.
- Your age
- The duration and types of medical treatments you had to go through.
- If relevant, your disfigurement and the consequences of it.
5. Future Expenses
When you’re hurt, the future expenses you are likely to incur are relevant to valuing your case.
It’s tricky to estimate future expenses during your actual recovery, but a personal injury attorney works with professionals to help in the valuation process. These professionals might include financial specialists, vocational experts, and medical experts.
6. Other Factors
If the other side is very clearly liable for your injuries, then you’re likely to get a higher settlement as compared to a situation where there are issues with your case. For example, if there’s debate about how severe your injuries are, your settlement might be lower.
Other factors that can impact value are:
- How credible your witnesses are, and whether they’re biased or they tell conflicting stories.
- There aren’t medical records that show your injuries and treatments.
- If you share liability, even partially for the accident.
- Whether you have pre-existing conditions that might have contributed to your injuries.
- If there’s evidence like photographs.
- An admission of liability from the other party.
- If you seek medical care right after your injuries.
- Whether you follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
When you’re bringing a claim for recovery, it has to be done properly, and this will influence your settlement value too. For example, you have to name the right parties, meet filing deadlines, and also follow all the procedural regulations.