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In this blog, we will discuss 5 major factors that go into determining the value of your personal injury case. Feel free to comment or add any of your thoughts on what may go into the value of a case.
Obviously, the biggest factor in determining the value of your case is how bad is your physical injury. The value of damages is larger for a more significant physical injury. Certain injuries are worth more than others. For example, a broken leg is generally worth more than a soft tissue injury. All things equal, serious permanent injuries are worth more than minor injuries. In order to have a viable personal injury case, you need to have a physical injury. A person involved in an accident may say, “I could have died.” What could have happened or what could have been injured does not count. There must be an actual injury.
The insurance company will often try to pay you less money by saying that you had a prior injury to the same area of your body. The most common “pre-existing” injuries: low back, neck, and shoulder.
Even if you had a pre-existing injury, you may still have a good case. For example, you could have had low back pain prior to a car accident and had an MRI of your back that only showed a minor bulge in one of your disks. After the accident, you get a 2nd MRI and the minor bulge is now a major herniated disk that requires surgery.
In Florida, and around the Country, there are certain areas, cities and counties that are more liberal than others when evaluating an injury and determining proper compensation for the injured person. For example, it is well known that if your case is in the City of Philadelphia versus a conservative suburb of Philly, your case will have more value. That is because the juries in the City of Philadelphia have a good understanding of injuries and the reasonable value of an injury. In Florida, the counties that are the most favorable for people injured in accidents are: Miami, Broward and Palm Beach.
Counties in upstate Florida (known to be more conservative Republican areas) such as Lee County are known for having smaller jury verdicts, and thus smaller settlements. Despite the location of the accident, the value of your case still largely depends upon the facts of your case.
We have found that the more “likeable” our client is the more money a jury will award to our client. That stems from the fact that the jury wants to take care of a nice and likeable client. The likeability of our client also come into play with settlement value if we allow the insurance company to meet our client before filing a lawsuit.
We strongly recommend that you never speak to the insurance company on the other side of the case without a lawyer. The insurance company on the other side is not your friend and is not there to “help” you. The insurance company’s mission is to pay you as little as possible. There are some instances that you have to speak to an insurance company – your own insurance company. You are required under your insurance contract to cooperate with YOUR insurance company. This, however, does not also mean you have to cooperate with the opposing insurance company.
Representing yourself is certainly allowed and permissible but it is our opinion that the hiring of a personal injury lawyer almost always brings additional value to your case. When the insurance company gets a handwritten letter from you asking them to pay you, they may not take your request too seriously. On the other hand, when the insurance company gets a formal lawsuit served in its insured, the insurance company, most likely, will take the case seriously and pay you more money.
We have found the the leverage we have over insurance company’s is the ability to file a lawsuit, conduct formal discovery and present your case to a jury of your peers. A jury trial date is usually the best pressure to get a stubborn insurance company to you money.
We also believe that your personal injury case should be handled by a personal injury lawyer NOT a general lawyer who does, Wills, Criminal Defense, Real Estate and personal injury. Would you want to have surgery performed on your brain by an orthopedic knee doctor?
Again, you are certainly allowed to represent yourself in your personal injury case but there are many many pitfalls that you are not aware of that really could hurt your personal injury case.
At a minimum, you should call and consult with a personal injury lawyer. If you would like to talk to us about your case we provide a free consultation at any time. Just call us at 561-266-9191 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.