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Published on April 2, 2024

Determining The Value of Your Personal Injury Case

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just toss a number at the insurance company or court stating this is the value of my personal injury case? Your medical expenses and property damage costs are covered. 

There’s even some left for any lost wages and your pain and suffering. Unfortunately, this isn’t how personal injury case value is determined. Even if you present all of your bills and receipts, it doesn’t guarantee it’s the amount you’ll receive.

So, what are the components of determining personal injury case value? There are a few key factors that can affect case value. Knowing what these factors are can help ensure you receive fair compensation.

Factors That Can Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Case

Before getting into some of the other factors, a primary one is who’s at fault. Depending on state law, you may be able to file a personal injury claim even if you’re 50 percent to blame for the accident—this only applies in comparative fault states. Your percentage of the blame can affect the value of your personal injury case. Your compensation amount will reflect the percentage of your blame.

For example, if you’re 30 percent responsible for the accident your compensation is reduced by the same amount. Along with state personal injury law, here’s a look at other factors that can affect personal injury case value.

Medical Expenses

If you’re filing a personal injury claim chances are you’re suffering from more than a broken fingernail. Your injuries may be considered relatively minor like a broken finger or more severe. Head trauma is an example of a severe injury.

The extent and severity of your injuries play a large role in determining case value. A personal injury case with a plaintiff who needs long-term medical care will have a higher value than one where the only injury is a broken arm.

Loss of Current and Future Wages

Personal injury cases typically include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can include any lost wages due to injuries sustained in the accident. If your injuries are severe enough to prevent you from returning to work, you may also be able to claim loss of future earnings.

So, obviously, a personal injury case where both current and future earnings are claimed is going to have a higher value. However, this isn’t the only aspect that can help determine value. The amount of your wages is a factor. Sometimes, the loss of your current earnings can be more than someone else’s total future wages.

However, before getting too excited about the potential value of your personal injury claim, there’s something else to consider. Most insurance companies aren’t going to cover your full wages. Instead, they work out an average amount, which is something else that can affect the value of your claim.

Property Damage

While medical expenses often make up a large percentage of your personal injury claim’s value, property damage shouldn’t be overlooked. You typically think of vehicles in personal injury cases, but this isn’t the only type of property damage.

Your belongings can also be considered property and you may be able to recover compensation for their damage. What are some examples of property other than a motor vehicle? Your purse, its contents, laptops, phones, tablets, and other devices can be included in your list of damages.

The extent of damage to your vehicle is also going to affect the value of your claim. Whether you’re replacing or repairing your vehicle is another consideration. Before you start shopping for a new vehicle, remember the insurance company isn’t going to pay more than your car’s Blue Book value. Don’t be surprised if repairs total more than the vehicle’s Blue Book value the insurance company refuses to pay more.

Think of its Blue Book value as a cap. If you’re determined to repair your vehicle, you may not have another recourse than paying out of your pocket. In other words, use the insurance payout to cover what it can and you’re responsible for the remainder of the repair bill.

Pain and Suffering

We briefly mentioned non-economic damage earlier and these are a little harder to calculate than economic damages. Non-economic damages aren’t tangible, meaning they don’t have a set dollar amount.

Pain, suffering, and mental anguish are common examples of non-economic damages, along with loss of enjoyment of life. So, how do you calculate the value of your mental anguish caused by the accident?

You can use either the multiplier or per diem method to calculate your non-economic damages. The multiplier method takes the total value of your economic damages and multiplies it by a number, usually below 5. The per diem method assigns a number to your non-economic damages and multiples it by the number of days you experience pain and suffering.

There are advantages to both systems, so it’s best to consult with an attorney before deciding on the value of your non-economic damages. You should also consider any caps your state may have placed on non-economic damages. While not all states cap these types of damages, some do and this can affect the value of your personal injury claim.

Punitive Damages

Something you may not have considered is punitive damages. This type of damage is different from economic and non-economic damages. Also, you can’t add punitive damages to your claim. This is something only a judge or jury can award in a personal injury claim. Yes, this means you’ll need to file your claim with the civil court if you’re planning on asking for punitive damages.

Punitive damages are rarely awarded but can significantly increase the value of your personal injury claim. These types of damages are awarded as a punishment and to deter others from engaging in the same negligent behavior.

Contact an Attorney About the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

It’s important for you to recognize that the value of your personal injury claim transcends mere numerical calculations of bills and receipts. It involves a comprehensive assessment of numerous elements, particularly non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which are inherently subjective and require expert evaluation. 

Therefore, engaging with a seasoned personal injury attorney is not just beneficial but essential to guarantee that your claim receives a fair and accurate valuation, reflecting the true extent of your losses and suffering. This kind of professional guidance is indispensable in navigating the complexities of personal injury law and securing the compensation you rightfully deserve.

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