When Do I Find Out How Much My Personal Injury Case is Worth?
In other volumes of these legal articles, I have discussed in great detail the various factors that go into evaluating and assigning a dollar value to a personal injury case. Those factors include the hard numbers that go into an economic damage calculation, such as:
- medical expenses
- lost wages
- car rental expenses,
- and out-of-pocket expense
The valuation process also requires an assessment of non-economic damage. Included in this assessment are things such as:
- distress, both emotional and physical
- scarring or disfigurement
- inconvenience, and
- general suffering
In sum, any consequence of the accident that impacts the nature and quality of the injured person’s life. Indeed, these related losses that flow from the injury causing event are sometimes referred to "consequential" damages.
As a rule of thumb, I would say it is appropriate to assign a dollar value range to a case at the point that the injured individual completes the acute phase of medical care and attendance.
At this point, a number of variables are either known or are readily ascertainable. When the acute, treatment phase of a personal injury claim is over, I will know the amount of the medical expenses incurred to date. Moreover, if additional medical care is needed at a subsequent time, I can ask a physician to give an opinion within a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability what medical care is foreseeable in the future as a result of the personal injury. Additionally, when the injured person has returned to a baseline, a point sometimes referred to by physicians and lawyers, as maximum medical improvement, I will know the amount of time at work missed to date. Here again, in an appropriate case, an expert may be consulted regarding a loss of earning capacity or loss of future wages. Finally, at this time, the full nature, extent, and scope of the injuries are known, and a full an honest assessment, tempered by years of experience, can be made of the non-economic damages appropriate for such a claim. If you have spoken to an individual who offers you their assessment of the value of your personal injury claim at an initial meeting, I would suggest to you that reliance on such opinions is misguided. I would also suggest that reliance on online calculators its probably not the best course of action to arrive at an intelligent and reasoned assessment of the value of your personal injury case. It is relatively easy for a skilled individual to construct a computer program that will return a "value" of 3x your medical expenses. Some cases are not worth 3x times the medical expenses incurred, for a variety of reasons. Other case may be worth far, far more than 3x the medical expenses incurred to day. A seasoned, skilled personal injury attorney can effectively convey the factors and variables that are used in determining an appropriate case value.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 10/19/20.