One of the things we are often asked by potential clients is “what is my claim worth?” or “what is a fair settlement value?”
People who have been involved in a car accident or otherwise injured through the negligence of another person often want to know how much they should expect to recover. We have discussed the various components of a damages claim elsewhere. One thing you should not do is rely on any “rule of thumb” or online damages calculator to try and figure out the value. To get a quick understanding, some of the important factors include:
1. Scope or Severity of Injury– The more severe the injury the higher the value. For example, broken bones are worth more than bruising. Likewise, multiple injuries are generally worth more than a single injury. Or, a herniated disc in your back impinging on your spinal cord has a higher “value” than a bulging disc. This is one reason we tell clients the best case is the case with the smallest value–It is because in that case they are dealing with smaller injuries with less impact on their regular lives..
2. Amount of medical bills and out of pocket expenses- The amount of your medical bills is a factor in determining the value of your case. The more your bills, the more your case is probably worth. In some cases, your bills may be covered fully under Med-Pay or P.I.P. benefits from your own auto insurance company. This in turn reduces your “out-of-pocket” expenses and hence the value of your case. Cases with high diagnostic medical costs (MRI’s etc.) as opposed to higher treatment costs have less value.
3. Liability– If you have no responsibility for the injury then this is a positive factor in the value of your claim. If you are partially at fault, your percentage of fault is subtracted from the amount of your award, and the value of your claim is diminished. A full discussion of comparative fault and the “50/50 Rule” is here.
4. Prior Injuries – If you have significant prior medical issues, it may affect the value of your claim either positively or negatively. There is a saying in the law that you take your victim as you find them or that person is an “eggshell plaintiff”. An aggravation of prior injuries is a significant factor in the value of your claim.
5. Prior Claims– Every time you bring a claim for personal injures, it is being recorded in a database that the insurance company will use against you. they use this information to raise questions about your credibility and it suggests to some that you are an improperly litigious person. This can affect the value of your claim because it will be used to “slime’ you in front of a jury.
While these five are not, by any means the only issues that impact the value of a claim, they are five important things that can do so. As Idaho’s Injury Lawyers our goal is to help people throughout Idaho . Please call if you have any questions about your injury claim. The initial consultation is always free.