The science in determining the value of a personal injury claim is making sure that all the necessary facts and figures are gathered and put together in a complete package that answers all possible questions and rebuttals. The art of this process lies in being able to present this material in an orderly and persuasive fashion that can convince your reader of the significance and impact of your personal injury. While there are no concrete ways to do this, it is best to have an experienced personal injury lawyer apply his/her expertise in determining the worth of your particular personal injury case. You should also be aware that no case should be settled until the injured party has reached a maximum medical improvement, which can be said when the injured party has reached a point where their medical condition can no longer improve.
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, your personal injury lawyer can begin to accurately assess your case. The only exception to assessing beforehand is when there is not enough insurance coverage to compensate the individual for the damages suffered to date, and there is no chance of recovering any other funds.
Evaluate the Strength of Your Personal Injury Case
The first evaluation should be the strength of your personal injury case. A determination must be made for who is at fault. This can be easy or difficult, but the client must be able to prove that their personal injury was caused by the fault of another. In most states, an injured party may pursue a claim even if they were partly responsible for the sustained personal injuries due to the principle of comparative negligence. So if the injured person is found to be 30% responsible for their injuries and the jury finds the case to have a $80,000 value, the injured party’s award would be reduced by the comparative fault (30%), resulting in an award of $56,000.
However, in other cases, fault is assessed by public policy grounds, which typically results in a finding of strict liability.
What Are the Damages?
This is the second important question to answer. Two types of damages are recoverable in the case of negligence: economic and non-economic. Economic can have an actual dollar amount attached to it. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Medical expenses that have been incurred to date, including future medical expenses likely to be incurred from the personal injury
- Loss of wages as well as loss of the ability to earn the same or more income in the future which are directly related to the sustained injury
- The cost of past and future special services/medical devices need to assist with everyday activities that were performed without these services
- The cost of any vocational or other training that might be reasonable in order to retain or assist an injured party with a permanent disability
Non-economic damages are intended to cover personal injuries that cannot be calculated with monetary value. Non-economic damages can include compensation for the following:
- Pain and suffering to date, including future suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life’s activities normally experienced by the injured party
- Emotional distress
Economic damages have a science behind them. Medical expenses can be obtained via healthcare providers and future expenses can be obtained through the injured party’s current physician. Past lost wages can be calculated through tax returns or pay stubs. Future loss of income can be judged by a rehabilitation expert. There is no general formula to calculate the dollar value of a severe injury to a person’s body or the loss of one’s enjoyment in life. An experienced attorney knows what injuries have been awarded in similar cases.
A personal injury case can be influenced by the following:
- Age of both the injured and at-fault party
- Likable qualities of both parties, including impressions each party might have on a jury
- Ability of each party’s personal injury lawyer to influence the jury side with his client
- Willingness of the at-fault party and their lawyer to go to trial
- Cost of defending and prosecuting the personal injury case
- Assets of the at-fault party
- Injured party’s life expectancy and any unrelated conditions that might shorten life span
- The speed at which the case is likely to come to trial
- The injured party’s need for money
- Assessment of the injured party’s current physician
- Assessment of the injured party’s expert witnesses
- Strength of claims for future damages
- Any statutory caps for damages
- Probability of success for future medical treatments for the injured party
- Nature and extent of any scarring or deformity
An experienced attorney will be able to gather and present all needed information for presentation to the insurance adjuster, judge, or jury to help maximize the injured party’s compensation.
There are also a number of “Key Values” that can increase the value of your personal injury case. A key value is anything that will improve the chances of your case in your favor. These could include the total of your medical bills for reasonable and necessary treatment, positive test results, buzz words or key phrases in medical statements, documented out-of pocket expenses, use of medical aids, and medical insurance premiums paid.
There are also a few things you can do to improve your loss-of-income claim to positively affect your case. A few examples are properly documented lost overtime, sick and vacation time from work used from your resulting personal injury including trips to the doctor.
It is crucial you consult a skilled personal injury lawyer at The Heslin Law Firm to make sure you get the most out of your case. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at 215-332-0300. We offer free consultations!
We can see you in any of our four locations. Our main office is located in Northeast Philadelphia and we have three other locations throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding counties! Call 215-332-0300.