One of the most commonly asked questions by injury victims, is "What's my case worth".
Unfortunately, the answer is not straightforward. While it would be convenient to have a lookup table that gives a clear value to every injury sustained, such a table does not exist. If someone provides you with a case value - don't trust it.
The truth is the value of your case depends on several factors. And, while it may be possible to provide the results of similar cases, your case will have aspects that are unique to it that could impact the end value wildly.
Defendants Insurance Policy It is unfortunate, but the outcome of your case will be greatly dependent upon the insurance(s) that the responsible party had in place - if any at all. This number can range wildly - from an amount that will not adequately cover your losses to amounts that provide coverage in excess. There may also be additional policies - commercial vehicle, work comp, umbrella policies, etc.
Defendants Net Worth Most of the time, your attorney will only pursue insurance coverages. However, there may be occasions where it makes sense to seek additional compensation from higher net worth individuals who caused the accident.
When a person has the financial means to adequately insure themselves and the accident victim(s) are adversely affected by that inadequate coverage, the plaintiff's attorney may seek additional compensation from that individual.
Your Insurance Policy Does your insurance policy provide coverage when the responsible party has no coverage or inadequate coverage? If so, this can make a big difference.
Economic damages are the costs that are easily quantifiable. If the replacement value of your totaled car is $20,000, you deserve $20,000 for your car. Or, if you make $150 a day at your job and miss 5 days of work because of your accident, you should expect to be reimbursed $650 for that lost income.
In most cases economic damages are not contested by the insurer. For that reason, the economic damages are usually treated separately from your non-economic damages.
Some causes of injury will not result in damage to real property - a slip and fall case for instance, will often not have any associated property that is damaged. However, incidents like car accidents will. Here, the vehicles involved will incur damage that will have a repair cost. Or, if the cost to repair exceeds the value of the car, the car will be replaced. This is usually a very simple number to reach.
Your medical bills will likely have a high correlation with the extent of your injuries. The higher your medical bills are, the higher your case's value will be.
Your attorney will not only look back to what you have endured because of the accident that caused your injury but will also look to the future and consider any medical care that may be required in the future. Estimated future medical costs may have a significant impact on the amount you are awarded.
An injury can change the course of the victim's professional life and negatively impact the trajectory of their career or end it all together. Whether it is reduced hours, a changed role, inability to take a promotion, or being unable to work at all - your lawyer needs to determine the difference between your earning potential after an accident from what it would have likely been, had your accident not happened.
Following a collision, it is common for injured victims to take some time off work. This can range from a handful of hours to being unable to return to their work entirely. Your lost earnings will be factored into the final award that you receive.
Non-economic damages are usually variable and subjective. They are composed of the costs that are unknown or not directly quantifiable.
Pain and suffering is possibly the most subjective number that is considered in injury cases. The idea here, is that you have suffered because of this accident - enduring pain, loss, and other inconveniences. And, in some cases that pain and suffering may extend into the future. Not all people quantify pain and suffering in the same way. This is where an experience and aggressive attorney can really benefit you. They understand what you have and will endure and will stand up to the insurance companies when they try and shortchange you.
In death cases and in some catastrophic injury cases, the loss of a spouse/partner is also a consideration in calculating the total award. The loss of love, affection, intimacy, companionship, household assistance, etc. is considered. But also, the financial loss that occurs when the accident victim contributed to the household income.
Your case will be made up of a unique blend of the factors listed above. The right lawyer will know how to maximize your total recovery for each component that is applicable to your case.
It is unfortunate, but there will be instances when the true value of your case is limited to the upper limits of the insurance policy (or policies) that apply.