How much is my injury case worth?
In order to accurately identify the value of your Personal Injury case, there are multiple factors to consider. The starting point launches at the identity of your actual injury, and being able to navigate the details of a car accident, slip and fall, or any other type of injury. Now, we are on to the question of the worth your Personal Injury will bring to your case. Basically, it comes down to your specific “damages” and whether they fall into the category of Compensatory or Punitive. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, the conduct of the Defendant will play a significant role in the final outcome. Traditionally, for a Personal Injury case, financial damages are paid to an injured person (the plaintiff) by the person or company who is found to be legally responsible for the accident (the defendant or their insurer). Within this article, we will unpack the process of navigating your way through understanding the different steps to concluding your Injury Case value.
Who negotiates the settlement award for an injury claim?
There are a few key negotiators who will be making the final call on your Personal Injury case. Below is a list of those potential voices weighing in on your outcome:
- Insurance Companies (for both the Plaintiff and Defendant)
- Attorneys (for both the Plaintiff and Defendant)
Is there more than one type of damage category for injury cases?
For the majority of Personal Injury Cases, there will be two types of damages that will play the role of determining the value and worth of your outcome. Let’s take a closer look at them and what you can use to define your specific details:
- Compensatory Damages: the majority of Personal Injury Cases will be classified as compensatory. Basically, this means that the injured plaintiff will be compensated for their loss due to the accident or injury. The damages awarded are intended to bring a sense of wholeness to the plaintiff, from a monetary point of view as much as is possible. Simply stated, you would be trying to place a dollar amount on the consequences of an accident.
- Punitive Damages: in the situation where the defendant’s conduct is deemed extremely careless, a Personal Injury plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages awarded. These will be decided upon by rationale that is not tied to the process of making the plaintiff whole. The authentic goal of Punitive Damages, is to create a sense of ownership for bad behavior and hopefully deter them from repeating the offense, especially with feeling the weight of their financial loss.
How are damages from a compensatory standpoint determined in injury cases?
Below is a list defining of the most common Compensatory damages found in the majority of Personal Injury Case:
- Medical Treatment: most commonly, individuals facing a Personal Injury case are seeking to recover from the cost of medical care in association with their physical injuries. This would seek to cover the cost of treatments you have already received and compensation for the estimated cost of the medical care you'll be requiring in the future tied directly to the accident.
- Income: with monetary compensation coming in the form of what you have already lost, generally speaking from the standpoint of medical injury keeping you from working, there is also the financial income maintenance that you will be losing due to the injuries sustained from the accident. Simply stated, your earning capacity will be hindered.
- Property Loss: should you have suffered damage to your vehicle, clothing, or other items due to the accident, you will most likely be awarded reimbursement for repairs or compensation for the fair market value of the property that was lost or damaged.
- Pain and Suffering: it is possible that you may be entitled to receive compensation for pain and serious discomfort you have suffered during the accident and within its immediate aftermath. In addition, you might also be awarded compensation for any ongoing pain that can be directly attributed to the accident.
- Emotional Distress: generally speaking, the compensation for emotional distress is linked to extremely serious accidents, where strong psychological impact directly from the accident is either nearly or completely incapacitating to you. Everything from fear, anxiety, and sleep loss can play serious roles in your favor. In some States, emotional distress is considered a significant part in “pain and suffering” damages awarded to you and not a separate category.
- Loss of Enjoyment: while injuries you have sustained from your accident may have caused you to not enjoy your daily routine like hobbies and exercise, you may also be suffering from engaging in other recreational activities which combined, would entitle you to receive damages including them all.
- Loss of Consortium: these are uniquely categorized in the sense that your relationship with your spouse, the loss of companionship, or the inability to maintain a sexual relationship has taken a significant impact from your injuries due to the accident. There are times where States will equally take into account the loss of relationship between a parent and their child(ren). In many of these cases, the damages are awarded directly to the family member rather than to the plaintiff.
Injury Claims: Final Considerations
There are times where you, as the plaintiff, will have actions that directly affect the outcome of your Personal Injury case, even when you are injured yourself. These actions, should they be found to have been avoidable on any level, will have the potential to diminish the amount of damages you are awarded in your case. Below are the two categories that will be the determinate factor of your direct outcome:
- Comparative Negligence: even if you are partially at fault for the accident that caused your injuries, it is highly possible that any damages you are awarded will reflect your part.
- Contributory Negligence: in a few States, you may not be able to recover any compensation at all if you are found to have been to blame for any of the accident.
- After the accident (Failure to mitigate damages): simply put, the majority of States are expecting the plaintiff to take reasonable steps to minimize or “mitigate” the financial impact of the harm caused by the accident. Should the plaintiff not be active in seeking medical attention and treatment for injuries sustained in the accident, which could result in making your injuries more damaging.
It is in your best interest to retain the services of a professional lawyer to help guide you in navigating the detail of your unique case within your specific State. Their experience and expertise will be the hinge on the door of success for you to walk through.