One of the most common questions potential clients ask accident attorneys is how much my personal injury case is worth. Whether it is a car accident case or a medical malpractice claim, it is impossible to know the value of a personal injury claim until you investigate the claim.
An experienced, honest personal injury lawyer tells clients the truth. It is impossible to give them the exact value of the case during the initial consultation.
An attorney needs to do a great deal of work to calculate a personal injury claim’s value.
Some things that need to happen before the attorney can determine how much your case is worth include:
- You need to complete medical treatment
- Your doctor needs to determine if you sustained permanent disabilities or impairments
- The lawyer needs to complete a thorough investigation
- The case must be analyzed for fault and liability in light of the evidence and the applicable laws
- The lawyer must identify potentially liable parties and insurance coverage
- There must be documentation for damages
When your attorney has all information necessary to value the claim, the attorney calculates the value and demands payment from the negligent party that caused your injury.
What Are Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
Damages refer to the financial losses, pain, and suffering caused by an accident or injury. For example, physical damages caused by a slip and fall accident might include a brain injury or broken bones. It also includes the pain and any permanent impairments caused by the injury.
On the other hand, financial losses from a construction accident include any expenses or costs related to the accident or your injury. Emotional distress from a motorcycle accident can include depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Because the courts cannot undo the damage caused by a personal injury, the only way to make the person “whole” again is to award compensation for damages.
However, placing a value on damages can be challenging, especially when calculating the value of “pain and suffering” damages.
What Damages are Included in a Personal Injury Claim?
Being involved in an accident can result in economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, the victim could be entitled to punitive damages. When discussing values for a personal injury claim, it can help to understand the difference between the types of damages.
What are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are the expenses and costs related to your accident. They include the out-of-pocket expenses you pay and any amounts paid by third parties, such as medical bills paid by your health insurance company.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills, including charges from physicians, hospitals, therapists, and other medical providers
- Medications, medical supplies, and medical equipment
- Loss of benefits, wages, salaries, commissions, and other forms of income
- Loss of earning potential because of a permanent disability
- Cost of personal care or in-home health care
- Expenses for help with household chores
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
You must have evidence of the expenses, such as a paid receipt, bills, or invoice. Evidence might include a statement from the employer, copies of recent pay stubs, and copies of tax returns for lost wages.
What are Non-Economic Damages?
Noneconomic damages describe the pain and suffering the victim experiences because of another party’s wrongdoing or negligence. Pain and suffering damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Disabilities and permanent impairments
- Emotional distress
- Psychological damages
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of love and companionship
- Disfigurement and scarring
When a person sustains a catastrophic injury or a traumatic injury, it is assumed that the person suffered a greater degree of pain and suffering. Therefore, cases involving permanent impairments and severe injuries tend to be worth more than cases involving minor injuries.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are awarded in a lawsuit. Punitive damages are intended to “punish” the wrongdoer for gross negligence. A personal injury case rarely involves punitive damages, but it does happen occasionally.
Your personal injury lawyer understands when punitive damages might be justified. If the case warrants, your lawyer includes a demand for punitive damages at the end of the trial.
Placing a Value on Damages in a Personal Injury Case?
Economic damages are not as tricky to value as noneconomic damages. However, if you sustained a disability or permanent impairment, your attorney might retain medical experts, economists, and other experts to assist in valuing future damages.
The value of your economic damages is the total of all expenses and losses associated with your case. The insurance company might argue whether an expense was necessary and reasonable, so you need detailed documentation to justify each expense or loss.
Non-economic damages are more challenging to value. It is difficult to put a price on a person’s pain and suffering. However, experienced personal injury lawyers understand how to use the facts of the case to maximize pain and suffering damages.
It can help to keep a pain and suffering journal. In your journal, note your pain level each day and how your injuries impacted your daily routine. Also include details about your emotional state, including periods of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and stress.
Make sure you report any emotional distress to your physician so that you can receive treatment, and the conditions are documented in your medical records. You want all damages, financial damages, and suffering, to be documented for your claim.
Are There Factors That Can Impact the Value of my Personal Injury Claim?
Yes, numerous factors could affect how much your claim is worth. For example, if you could be partially at fault for the cause of your pedestrian accident, your compensation for damages can be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
On the other hand, if you sustain severe injuries, the value of your personal injury claim could increase. Permanent impairments and disabilities significantly increase the value of a personal injury claim.
Other factors that could affect how much your personal injury claim is worth include:
- The type of personal injury case
- The number of parties involved
- Policy limits of the applicable insurance policies
- The duration of your recovery
- The total of your financial damages
Whether you hire a personal injury attorney can also affect how much money you receive for your injury claim. Having an experienced lawyer on your side can give you an advantage. The insurance company is more likely to offer a settlement closer to your claim’s actual value when it knows that you have an attorney willing to take the matter to court to protect your best interests.
If you’ve been injured in Atlanta, GA, and want to file a claim against those responsible, contact Hasner Law for assistance. Our Atlanta personal injury lawyers can review your case, offer a preliminary assessment of what your case might be worth, and help you determine the best course of action at this time. Your first consultation with our law firm is free, so give us a call to schedule yours today.