What Determines the Value of My Personal Injury Claim?
If you have been injured in an accident and are considering filing a personal injury claim, one of your first questions to your attorney could be: “How much is my case worth?” While it is virtually impossible for any personal injury attorney to give you an exact figure—or guarantee a settlement if you understand the process and the potential value of your claim—you will at least have an idea of what your case could potentially be worth. The following questions can help you make that determination.
What are the potential damages you could be entitled to receive?
Damages fall into economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses are those which can be quantified into monetary terms because they have an objective value. For example, if your car mechanic gives you an estimate of how much it will cost to repair your car after your auto accident, this is an economic loss—you have a relatively firm number for repairing your car. If you are unable to return to work because of your injuries, this is an economic loss—your wages can be quantified into monetary terms, including past and future loss of earning capacity. Your medical bills are also considered an economic loss—you receive a bill for a specific amount from your medical provider. Non-economic losses are more subjective, thus less easily quantified. Non-economic losses include pain and suffering, past and future emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of activities.
What are other factors that affect my settlement amount?
There are many variables that can affect your compensation following an accident with injuries. These include:
- Liability will make a significant difference in your eventual settlement. If it is clear the other party was liable for your accident, then compensation for your injuries is more straightforward. If there is a dispute regarding who was at fault, or if you were partially at fault for the accident, then under Louisiana’s pure comparative fault laws, your settlement amount could decrease according to your percentage of fault.
- The severity of your injuries will certainly affect your settlement amount. If you suffered only minor injuries in the accident, you may not be entitled to any damages for injuries. If, however, you suffered more severe—or catastrophic—injuries, and your medical bills are likely to keep coming in for a significant length of time, then your settlement will naturally be larger. Your actual medical bills and out-of-pocket costs are submitted for reimbursement; then your ongoing and future medical bills will be calculated.
- Whether the other party has insurance, and, if so, how much coverage, will also dictate your eventual settlement. If the at-fault party has only minimum policy limits, and your case is worth more than a million dollars, the insurance company is only required to pay up to the limit of the policy. It is important to realize that a verdict is only a number—there must be money to collect in order to recover full damages.
- Venue—the place where your claim is filed—can have a dramatic effect on the value of your personal injury claim. Juries in some states tend to be more generous than those in other states, and even within the same state, some areas tend to award more in personal injury claims. There could be a benefit to this fact, in that the other party’s insurance and attorney may offer more money to resolve the case prior to trial if they see a risk in a jury’s decision. Conversely, if they believe the venue offers them a favorable outlook, they may be less likely to negotiate an equitable settlement.
- Pain and suffering represent the emotional distress you endure following the accident. This could include physical pain (whether temporary or permanent), anxiety, depression, or other emotional disorders, loss of companionship with a husband or wife, and any other psychological trauma. Your venue will also determine the level of pain and suffering damages you could receive, as some venues tend to be more generous when awarding pain and suffering.
Getting Help for Your Personal Injury Claim from Hoffoss Devall
An experienced personal injury attorney from Hoffoss Devall can deal with a reluctant insurance company on your behalf. We understand the tactics used by insurance companies to devalue your claim; we will counter these tactics, seeking maximum compensation. While we are highly skilled negotiators, we are also aggressive litigators and can represent you at trial when necessary—contact Hoffoss Devall today!