It is very difficult for anyone to answer the question, “What is my personal injury case worth?” While years of experience will help a personal injury attorney make a good educated guess at the value of a case, the fact is that no one can predict with any certainty exactly what a case will bring in either settlement or a jury verdict. This is because personal injuries are all unique and have their own special circumstances that dictate the value of a case. Furthermore, juries, insurance companies and others may all look at a case very differently. One case that seems similar to another may produce a very different outcome.
Baseline Values of Cases
Most personal injury attorneys use baseline figures to assess the value of a case. For example, one common rule of thumb when determining how much to ask for in settlement is to add together the amounts of all economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages and then add three times that amount for non-economic damages. That does not mean that the victim will receive that amount, but it can be a good place to start the negotiation process.
For example, if the victim of a car accident incurred $10,000 in medical expenses, $5,000 in property damage and $5,000 in lost wages due to the crash, an attorney would add these figures together for a total of $20,000. The attorney would then multiply the $20,000 by three and ask for $60,000 for pain, suffering and emotional distress. This would result in a total goal settlement figure of $80,000.
This formula is not used by every personal injury attorney and may be adapted based on the circumstances. If a child is badly injured and will suffer lifelong consequences from that injury, the child’s damages may be significantly more than an older adult with the same injuries, based simply on the fact that the child will likely suffer those injuries for a longer period of time. Injuries to someone who is the breadwinner for a family may bring more in settlement to make up for the economic loss of the family, as opposed to someone whose contribution to the household is not financial.
What Is An Injury Worth?
It is always difficult to place a monetary value on a person’s injuries. While some things are easy to calculate, like lost wages, others are more complicated and depend on individual circumstances. An injury that could be devastating for one person can be fairly easy to cope with for another, depending upon what they do for a living and their hobbies and activities. When calculating damages, most attorneys try to focus on the clear economic harms, the harm to relationships between a parent and child or husband and wife due to injuries, and the effect of the injury on the victim’s overall lifestyle. When a victim dies, placing a value on his or her life can be a complicated and emotional process that is best left to an attorney with experiencing dealing with such situations.