What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
You may be asking, “What is my injury case worth?” Asking “What is my case worth” is like asking a broker what is a house worth without seeing it; knowing many details; or doing comps.
There are thousands of variables that determine the value of a personal injury case and most of these variables become known long after a lawyer is retained. Thus, it is impossible for a lawyer to know the true value at the beginning of a case. It is also impossible for another lawyer to know the true value of a case without seeing the entire file.
Some Factors That Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Case
- Is someone responsible for causing your injury
- Is there more than one potential defendant
- Whether can it be claimed that you contributed to the accident
- What the police report indicates
- What private investigation reports indicate
- Witness statements
- Expert reports, if needed
- The transcript of your deposition testimony
- Seriousness: How serious the injury is
- Permanency: Whether the injury is permanent (The majority of money awarded is for the future value of your injury)
- Treatment: How often and for how long you were treated by doctors, what treatment you received, are you still being treated at the time of settlement or trial, and whether you will continue to need treatment in the future
- Causation: Whether it can be proved that your injuries were caused by the accident
- Lost Income: Whether you had lost wages or income, and whether you can continue to work in the future
Insurance & Assets
- Is there insurance covering the people or companies who caused your injuries? It is very rare that a lawyer can go after the assets of an individual defendant that is not a company. For instance, a defendant’s house may have a large mortgage and there are other problems when trying to satisfy a judgment with a defendant’s house.
- Which insurance companies insure the persons and companies responsible for your injuries?
- Does the defendant have assets that can be used to satisfy a judgment? If the defendant is a large corporation, the amount of insurance is unimportant because there will be sufficient corporate assets.
Venue, Court & Jury Factors
- The state and county where the case is in court. Your case may be one that can be brought in a county good for you or bad for you
- Your age, race, sex, social status (wealthy people usually will not do as well)
- The age, race, sex of the jury;
- How will the injured client and the defendant appear in court, how well will they testify and how credible do they look and sound
- The time remaining until your case will come to trial; Your desire to settle quickly or wait possibly years for more money at trial, and whether you are willing to go to trial or would rather not.
To determine the value of a case for settlement, the lawyers for both sides and the insurance claim representatives will first try to determine what the case would get at a verdict after a trial. Thus, a lawyer would work backward, first determining what a case is worth at verdict.
Once the verdict amount is determined, then the estimated amount of trial expenses (cost of expert witnesses such as doctors and engineers, court reporter fees, etc.) is deducted and the present net value (the discounted value of a dollar that is paid today, rather than a date in the future) is deducted (two present net value calculators are below). This amount is the gross settlement amount. To arrive at a “net” settlement amount, you must consider the disruption of everyone’s life for the week or two that it takes to do a trial and the risk of losing.
The amount of the legal fee should not be considered when determining if a case is worth settling since the legal fees have nothing to do with the value of the case and are payable whether settled early or at trial.
How to Find Out How Much Your Personal Injury Case is Worth
About Personal Injury Settlement Calculators – This webpage explains how personal injury settlement calculators work. The page also has a personal injury settlement calculator that will tell you how much you will net after a personal injury settlement.
Present Value Calculator – Determine what a verdict amount in the future is worth in a settlement today.
This calculator will compute the Present Value or Future Value of a specific dollar amount.