What is my personal injury case worth?
Many times when a new client calls to ask about his or her personal injury case we get the question, “How much is my case worth”? During this initial call it is nearly impossible to predict what a case is worth. There are many variables that go into evaluating a personal injury case and during this initial call, almost always, it is premature to put a dollar value on a case. Many cases take weeks, months and even years to develop to a point where your personal injury lawyer is able to determine the true value. Further, many times your lawyer will put a value on a case but the insurance company has a different opinion on the value. In such an instance, it may very well be up to a jury of your peers to determine the value of your case.
That being said, the way we estimate what a case is worth is by figuring out what a jury is likely to do in a given case. And this can never be more than an estimate based on our experience as personal injury lawyers.
If you call a lawyer to discuss your potential personal injury case and during your initial call with him or her, the lawyer tried to tell you the value of your case, we would suggest you not hire that lawyer. It is virtually impossible to put an accurate value on a case without reviewing all of your medical records, seeing photos of your car, speaking to witnesses, reading the police reports, etc., he or she will have no idea what your case is worth. Accurate estimates require full information.
In order to determine the value, there are two basic kinds of “damages” you can recover for a personal injury case: Economic Damages and Non-economic Damages. These can also be called “General Damages” and “Special Damages,” respectively, but we like using the terms Economic and Non-economic.
Economic Damages is compensation for any money you’ve lost due to the collision. This includes:
- money to repair your car (or the full value of the car if it was totaled)
- money to pay for medical bills
- money to pay for household services that you could not do because of your injuries
- lost income due to injuries that prevented you from working
- money for future economic losses
Non-economic Damages means money for injuries that are not as easily given a numerical value. Some examples are:
- mental suffering
- emotional distress
- interference with normal activities
- damage to a person’s reputation
- aggravation to a previous injury
In some cases there may be a 3rd type of damage available to you depending on the actions of the defendant. If the defendant acted recklessly (drinking and driving) or intentionally, you may be entitled to an award for Punitive Damages. In the right case when you have egregious behavior by the defendant, it can make sense to try to get punitive damages.
When we estimate what a case is worth, we use our experience and knowledge to try to predict what a jury would do with your case. We will only make this estimate after we have all of the relevant information. At that time, we will tell you the probable value that we believe your case has.
Should you have a question about the value of your personal injury case, please feel free to contact my office at 561-266-9191 or email us at email@example.com.