How Much Is My Accident Case Worth?
To determine the value of an injury in an accident case, there are three main questions which have to be answered first
- What is the defendant’s liability?
- How much insurance is available?
- How serious is the injury?
What is the defendant’s liability?
This refers to negligence. Ask yourself the question, “Was the negligence of a person or company responsible for causing your injury?”
For instance, if your car was hit in the rear by another car, the driver of the car which struck yours was likely 100% negligent and therefore 100% liable for your injury.
In another example, assume that while visiting someone’s home, you walk up the walkway to the front door and simply lose your balance; fall, and break your hip. If there was nothing wrong with the walkway, the homeowner would not be negligent in causing your injury and would not be liable to compensate you for your injury.
However, if you tripped on a cement walkway that was broken so that one slab was higher than another, the homeowner may be liable for their negligence in failing to repair the walkway. If the homeowner left a garden hose across the front steps leading to the front door, that would also be a negligent act that would cause the homeowner to be liable to compensate you for your injury.
How much insurance is available?
Usually, personal injury lawyers don’t take cases unless there is insurance available to compensate you for your injury. This is because people and companies who do not have insurance usually do not have assets to go after.
If there is no insurance, there may be no opportunity to get money to compensate you for your injuries. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee which means they only get paid if they get money for you.
It is possible to go after a person’s or company’s personal assets where the amount of insurance available is not sufficient to compensate you for your injuries. However, usually, people and companies protect themselves with enough insurance and it may be very difficult to obtain money from their assets.
Consequently, as a general rule, you could conclude that the value of your case is limited by the amount of available insurance coverage. This is only a general rule and must be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
How serious is your injury?
A value range can be determined for a particular injury or a group of injuries. If your injury is permanent, it’s worth more than an injury that will go away. Some injuries may be permanent and will not get worse such as a scar but most permanent injuries will get worse over time because of arthritis and/or cause additional injuries to other parts of the body.
Lawyers can search on one of the legal research websites such as LexisNexis or Westlaw to easily find verdicts for similar injuries.
One way for someone who is not an attorney to look up the value of an injury is to do a search on Google for your injury and the word settlement or verdict. For instance, search for “fractured femur settlement” or “fractured femur verdict”.
Once a value range is determined for your injury, it may need to be modified based upon the defendant’s liability (negligence) and many, many other factors such as your age and even the county of the court where your case is.
If you believe that the defendant was only 75% at fault and that your injury is worth $1 million at full value, then your case is worth $750,000 after reducing 25% because the defendant was only 75% negligent.
A fractured femur may be worth $500,000-$1 million in one county and $350,000-$700,000 in another. This is because juries are known to award more money in some counties and less in others. Typically, jurors award less money in wealthier counties.
See more information and research about personal injury at HURT911.org