How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
You were injured in an accident. You feel that you have been wronged by someone else’s carelessness or negligence. You sustained serious injuries and have lost alot of money. You want to be compensated and feel that a lawsuit would bring you the justice you deserve.
You surf the internet and see 5 different lawyers who have great websites. The one question you need answered is “WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?”
After calling all 5 lawyers and explaining to them your injuries and the facts of the case, every lawyer tells you that “I don’t know” or “it depends” or “it is too early to tell.”
Why are they telling you this and what does it mean?
For starters, personal injury attorneys are not supposed to make any guarantees. In fact, in most attorneys will tell you that there are no guarantees in litigation. No attorney can tell you how much your case will settle for, what a claims examiner will pay for your case or what a jury will decide.
There are a myriad of factors that may change the value of your case. They include the defendant’s insurance limits, city/borough where your case goes to trial, the type of defendant you are suing, your injuries and liability.
One of the most important questions is whether the defendant is insured. If the defendant is not insured most attorneys will not take the case. This is because the defendant will have to pay a judgment out of their own pocket and they may not have deep pockets. If the defendant has insurance, we need to find out how much insurance they have. Generally speaking, the other person’s insurance limit is the highest amount that a case is worth. For instance if you were rear-ended by a car with a $25,000 insurance limit, then $25,000 may be all that you can recover for your injuries (there are exceptions if you have SUM coverage that exceeds the defendants insurance limits). If the defendant’s insurance limit is $500,000, you may be able to recover more.
City/Borough Where Your Case Goes to Trial
The city/borough where your case will go to trial is an important aspect to consider when evaluating a case. Judges and jurors in all places are not the same. Some districts, such as Bronx County are known to be plaintiff friendly jurisdictions where jurors have been known to give plaintff’s higher verdicts. Other venues such as Westhcester County are known to be more conservative and jurors have been known to find in favor of defendants more often and give lower plaintiff’s verdicts.
Some defendants have a reputation for fighting harder than others. Some insurance companies have a reputation for litigating the case to trial while others prefer to settle. Some defendants have a better reputation in the community while others have a bad reputation. The person you are suing factors into the value of your case.
Probably the biggest factor when determining the value of your case is your injuries. Do you have a serious injury? Did you undergo surgery? For how did you receive medical treatment? Have you made a full recovery?
The severity of your injuries and the amount of medical treatment that you went through have a direct correlation with the value of your case.
Another important factor is liability. In other words, who is at fault for your injuries? Was it all the defendant’s fault? Was it partially your fault? Were you wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred? Were you drunk when you slipped and fell on the stairs? Did the defendant make an illegal right turn? Did the doctor commit malpractice or was what happened to you a risk of the procedure?
All of these factors are important when determining the value of your case. In most cases, it may not be until the end of discovery or immediately before trial until your attorney can determine the value of your case.