In my years of practicing accident injury law, two questions come up the most: how long will my personal injury case take and how much money will I get?
Major factors shaping the value of your personal injury case include the nature of the injury, whether it is permanent, your health insurance and/or car insurance carrier, the amount of your medical bills, and whether or not the issue of liability is clear. Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash may involve an emergency room visit with x-rays or CT scans and physical therapy or chiropractic treatment. If the injury heals in a few weeks or months, a very rough estimate of the claim’s value is the total of the medical bills multiplied by two or three. To reiterate, this is a very rough guideline, not a guarantee, and the other factors mentioned above can change this equation drastically.
For permanent injuries the rough formula of medical bills times two or three is usually too low. More factors come into play, such as loss of earning capacity, loss of quality of life, and future medical expenses.
In both types of injury, the permanent and non-permanent, liability, or the issue of who was at fault, serves as a potential limitation of claim value. Where both the personal injury plaintiff and the defendant were driving vehicles and both claimed to have had a green light at an intersection, the chance of an outright loss for the plaintiff can significantly discount the value of the claim.
One factor that contributes to the value of your injury claim is the lawyer and law firm representing you. This factor is often overlooked or misunderstood. Personal injury firms in Hampton Roads and Virginia may boast about having a great reputation or the resources to pursue your claim aggressively. As in so many other aspects of life, the bark and the bite are not coextensive, that is, loudness and quality of representation do not directly correlate. A law firm’s name or lawyer’s name means little to a juror, and can even be harmful.
There is no such thing as a personal injury settlement calculator. Every case is unique and will have its own strengths as well as challenges. In the final analysis, an injury claim is worth whatever the jury says. Having a skilled car accident attorney will maximize your claim’s value, whether it settles out of court or goes before a judge and jury.