One of the most common questions any personal injury lawyer gets from their clients is, “how much is my case worth?” Unfortunately, this is never an easy question to answer right from the start due to the fact that each case is different. And if your injuries happen to be due to a car accident, then it can be even more difficult to accurately predict. Key details can often be missing at the outset of your case which will later influence the amount of damages you ultimately receive.
It’s also important to remember that your attorney, the insurance adjuster, and any independent factfinders won’t always agree on the value of your case. But while we can’t give you a set amount pertaining to how much your case is worth from the beginning, we can inform you of some of the factors that come into play when the value of your damages is ultimately decided either through a settlement or a jury trial.
Key Factors for Determining Damage Value
The severity of the accident is the first, and often most obvious, thing to look at when attempting to assign a value to a case. This includes:
- The extent of your injuries, including any “objective” injuries such as herniated discs, broken bones, nerve damage, or scarring
- Whether your injuries will be short, long-lasting, or permanent
- The nature and duration of treatment, including the invasiveness of the treatment
- The extent of your medical bills, insurance company liens, out of pocket expenses, and lost wages
- The need for future care, the expected amount of future medical bills, and the expected earnings you will lose in the future due to your injuries
Then there are the liability and insurance coverage issues which include:
- Whether or not another party is clearly responsible for the accident
- How much of the fault is determined to be your own (in Pennsylvania, the amount of compensation you can receive for damages is related to the amount of fault that is determined to be your own. If you are 10% at fault, then you will only receive 90% of the payout. If you are 50% or more at fault, then you cannot recover damages)
- The amount of insurance coverage available (if a jury awards you more money than the insurance covers, you will have to rely on the at-fault party to pay the difference, which they may not be able to afford)
And finally, there are the more subjective factors such as:
- The strength and credibility of the opinions of the medical doctors who treated your injuries
- Your age, likeability, and credibility
- The venue where the suit may be filed (for example, Philadelphia County is generally seen as a more favorable venue for plaintiffs in general than Chester County)
Additional Compensation Factors
In some cases there will be extra factors at play depending on the number of parties involved in the accident, as well as what exactly caused the accident in the first place. For example, if there are three or more cars involved in an accident caused by a single driver, the compensation awarded may be split between all of the victims, thus lessening your share. On the other hand, if more than one driver is at fault for your accident, you may be able to file claims against both of them, thus increasing your potential compensation.
There is also the potential for a product liability claim to be filed if it is determined that the accident which caused your injuries, or the extent of your injuries, was caused by a defective product. For example, if your accident was caused by the brakes of another car not working as intended, the manufacturer of the brakes may be held liable. Or, if your injuries would have been lessened had your airbags deployed properly, the manufacturer of the airbag deployment system may be held liable.
As you can see, there are many factors which go into determining the value of a personal injury case, especially one involving an auto accident. The severity of the crash and your injuries, the question of liability, the insurance coverage, where your claim is filed, and even who the jurors perceive you to be can all affect how much compensation you receive. Not to mention the additional compensation factors which can arise from multi-car accidents and defective mechanisms. And even if you don’t believe your case is worth much, once your attorney gathers all the information about your case it may turn out that you have more options for compensation than you originally thought. But now that you know how complex it is to figure out the worth of a case, your real question should be, “Do I have a case?“
Noel & Bonebrake
At Noel & Bonebrake, our attorneys will assist you in determining the optimal value of your claim via an initial investigation and our legal guidance and expertise. Once many of the factors listed above are known about your case, we will give you an estimate on the amount of compensation you can expect for your damages. We will then attempt to settle your case with the insurance adjusters. However, if a fair settlement is unable to be reached, the next step is to formally file a lawsuit on your behalf. Rest assured, when you hire our law firm, our attorneys will get to work immediately to obtain details about your accident and gather crucial evidence to use in your claim. Contact us today to discuss how much your case could be worth!