How much is my personal injury case worth?
Every personal injury case has 3 main elements: (1) Fault, (2) Injuries and (3) Insurance.
Personal Injury Fault
An injured party must prove someone else is “at-fault” for their accident in order to receive compensation. The defendant will be responsible to the injured party for the defendant’s percentage of fault contributing to the accident. The defendant’s percentage of fault may range from 0 to 100 percent. For example, if the defendant caused 90% of the accident, they will have to pay 90% of the injured party’s damages.
In a car accident, fault is usually apparent. Typically one party is cited by the police for violating a traffic rule. Don’t fret if the investigating police officer did not assign fault to the other party because we have other ways to prove fault.
For other types of accidents, such as a slip and fall, proving fault is not always so clear. In these cases, the injured party has the burden of proving the property owner either knew or should have known of the hazardous condition and failed to either (a) fix it or (b) properly warn others of the hazardous condition. Alternatively, the injured party may show that the property owner failed to maintain reasonably safe premises.
Personal Injury Proof
The next step to recover damages following an accident is to prove injury. The value of the personal injury case is dependent upon the severity of the injury and whether it is clearly attributable to the accident. Below are common factors used to evaluate an injury:
- Timing Of Medical Treatment: It’s best to get medical treatment immediately after an accident. The sooner an injured party seeks medical treatment the easier time they will have proving their injury was severe and related to the accident.
- Pre-Existing Injuries/Prior Accidents: People who have never been injured in an accident will have fewer obstacles proving their accident caused injury. Those who have been involved in prior accidents may argue their new accident aggravated their prior injuries.
- Obviousness of Injuries: Broken bones, severe burns, large lacerations and other uncontestable injuries are usually valued higher than more subjective injuries. However, a good personal injury attorney knows how to work up and prove a herniated disk or ligament injury is worth serious compensation.
- Type of Medical Treatment: The more invasive medical treatment a person undergoes the higher their case is valued. Trips to the emergency room, overnight stays at the hospital and surgeries are common services obtained by people with the most severe of injuries.
- Medical Bills: People with larger medical bills require larger awards to make them whole following an accident.
- Permanency of Injury: Severe injuries are permanent in nature. After a car accident, a person is only entitled to compensation for pain and suffering if their injury is classified as “permanent” by their treating doctors.
- Impact on Daily Life: Severe injuries usually cause an injured party to make changes to their activities of daily life. A person who made significant changes to their life as a result of an accident is entitled to a larger award.
- Loss Wages: Many severe injuries cause a person to miss work entitling them to lost wages. However, lost wages are not necessary to show someone sustained a severe injury—it’s just another element of damages.
How Insurance Works With Personal Injury Claims
Nearly all injury claims are paid out by insurance companies—not individual wrongdoers. For this reason, it is important to locate all possible sources of insurance that may be available to an injured party. Under certain circumstances, our firm has been successful in recovering money from the tortfeasor but we always prefer to see big insurance limits available to our clients. Below are common sources of insurance:
- At-Fault Driver
- Vehicle Owners
- Employee of At-Fault Driver
- Ride Share Programs – Uber, Lyft, Taxi
- Rental Car Companies
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