Valuation of a personal injury claim is the process of putting an ultimate monetary settlement value to the case. This process could be debated for a thousand years and is different from state to state and even varies within the state depending on the judge, the opposing attorney, and the insurance carrier.
Outside the finer points of case valuation most would agree that the following factors effect a personal injury case valuation.
1. The injured party’s likeability. Is the injured party a young child with a vicious dog bite to the face? Is the injured party a middle aged drug addict clearly showing some early aging? These matters sound superficial, but they matter.
2. The Defendant’s likeability. Is the defendant wrongdoer a local well-liked family doctor in a small rural town? Is the defendant even present at the trial because the insurance carrier can’t find the defendant? This is called an empty chair defendant and is generally favorable to the injured party in litigation. The defendant’s conduct is possible the greatest factor in valuating a case, or at least a significant factor. The more egregious the defendant’s conduct the more easily the jury will provide full and fair compensation to an injured party.
3. The Physical Injuries. Is the injured party missing a leg? Was the leg that was amputated because of the car wreck his last leg because a prior medical condition took his first leg? Is the injury permanent? Even if the injuries are permanent, how does the injury effect the person? Not being able to walk is a significant injury easily identifiable to a jury. A hand injury to an attorney would be terrible, but not as devastating as to a professional piano player.
4. The pain and suffering, both mental and physical. Proving compensation for pain is generally best done through other witnesses, not the injured party. America likes fighters, not whiners.
5. Impact on life. The extent to which the injured party has been prevented from pursuing their ordinary affairs. Are we talking about a professional baseball player or a desk jockey lawyer? Each is effected differently by a leg injury.
6. Degree of disfigurement. The degree and character of any disfigurement. Scars versus internal, non visible injuries. .
7. Permanent versus temporary. Whether the consequences of these injuries are likely to continue and for how long.
8. The skill and reputation of your personal injury attorney. This matters and insurance carriers know which attorneys will take the case to trial and which ones will ultimately fold.
9. War Chest. Your attorney’s ability to front the costs for the best expert witnesses to battle the insurance company’s experts. War chest. Not every firm has this financial ability and it matters.
10. Need for Quick Settlement. The injured party’s ability to hold out for the best settlement. If the insurance company knows the injured party is a drug addict or needs the money desperately, they will offer less. Or serious hints of bankruptcy, collection or evictions proceedings could signal that the injured party needs the settlement now.
11. Quality of the medical care incurred. Generally, doctor oversight of physical therapy or chiropractic care with consulting experts is better than just an ER visit and some chiropractic treatment. The quality of the medical care and permanency of the injury are perhaps the two more significant factors in valuating a personal injury claim. Insurance adjusters value multi disciplinary medical care.
12. No Gaps in Treatment. Not having gaps in medical treatment is important. Gaps in medical treatment are gifts on cross-examination for the insurance defense attorney. They will point out that if you were really hurt, you never would have missed your appointments.
13. Anticipated Future Medical Costs. Juries are generally more willing to give compensation to pay for future medical care, than for general damages. Therefore, when future medical care costs are properly forecasted by legitimate medical experts, this increases the compensation level. And rightfully so because an injured party can only ask for compensation once with the jury. They cannot keep coming back and back. It must last for a lifetime and the injured party did not sign up to gamble on whether or not the compensation will cover his future medical expenses.
When you are hurt, you only have one chance for compensation. Choosing experienced personal injury attorneys matter. Experience comes from actually trying lawsuits, not just advertising that you takes case.
The job of the personal injury attorney is to tell your story and how these injuries have effected you. Jacob S. Gunter. www.provolawyers.com. (801) 373-6345.