How Much Personal Injury Compensation Can I Expect?
Before beginning the process of an accident claim, our clients often want to know what they can expect in personal injury compensation. This often comes from the idea that the burden of a lawsuit may not be worth it if the case isn’t likely to result in a big enough payout.
This attitude is often seen as greedy by outsiders, but in reality, it’s not about “getting rich” from a personal injury claim. It’s about seeking justice in the only way you can – financially – and getting a recovery large enough to cover all the damages that you’ve suffered as a result of your accident.
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you in one blog post what your case is worth. Any attorney who claims otherwise should be avoided. What we can tell you are the factors that go into deciding a case’s worth and the criteria we use to evaluate a case’s value once we have all the information.
What Are “Damages”?
When determining the potential value of a personal injury case, the amount will depend on the accident victim’s “damages.” There are 2 types of damages that a victim can recover: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages reflect the monetary cost of your accident. Some compensatory damages are easier to calculate, like how much you’ve paid in medical bills and the amount you’ve lost in wages from time away from work. However, you likely also have compensatory damages that are not easy to put a number on, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering and physical impairment.
Punitive damages are not to compensate the accident victim for specific damage related to the accident but rather to punish the responsible party for fraud, malice or gross negligence. In most cases, if punitive damages are assigned as part of your personal injury compensation, it is because the judge or jury finds the party responsible for the accident acted with gross negligence. For example, if a car accident was caused by a drunk driver, the driver who was intoxicated may be found grossly negligent.
When evaluating what personal injury compensation to seek, our attorneys rely on our extensive experience and knowledge of how insurance companies value claims; how juries value claims; what your injuries have already cost you and are likely to cost you in the future; and the degree of fault that is likely to be assigned all parties in the accident and the amount of funds available to pay your claim.
Deciding Case Value
There is no absolute right number to put on ANY personal injury case. This answer simply does not exist; however, there is a method to help you determine the relative value of each area of damages. When deciding how much to seek in personal injury compensation, it’s important that the request be reasonable, responsible, and truly encompass the amount of your damages. This can usually be accomplished by comparing the degree of injury or impairment over time to create a matrix and help guide valuation decisions. We actually teach a jury to do this as a responsible way to help them assign values for a particular injury.
Many internet sites offer personal injury settlement calculators to tell you what your case is “worth.” This number is often estimated by adding medical bills, multiplying it by some factor, and adding lost wages. This formula may work in some cases, but often these impersonal guesses are wildly inaccurate. Where you can file the case always influences the value of your case. How easy or hard it is to “prove” your injuries influences the value of your case. Long-term consequences of the injury influences the value of your case. The degree of poor choices made by the person who harmed you influences the value of your case.
For example, imagine an 18 wheeler runs a red light, smashes into your car, deploying your airbags directly into your face. As a result you suffer a non-surgical herniated disk in your back, lose eyesight in one eye and injure your other eye. Medical bills are relatively small, but you lost the ability to see out of your eye and harmed your other eye. Your risk of going blind greatly increases. In addition, you will have long-term intractable back pain that cannot be “fixed” with surgery but will cause a lifetime of pain and impairment. No impersonal formula is going to correctly evaluate a life-changing injury.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re in a minor accident without terrible choices by the person who harmed you. At the scene of the collision, you feel unsteady and woozy. At the emergency room, a CT is performed to rule out a brain bleed, MRI’s are performed because the CT did not give a clear picture, a large number of x-rays are taken to rule out potential orthopedic injuries as your muscles spasm. You are kept overnight for observation. Fortunately, everything appears okay. You are released the next day. Your soreness goes away quickly without a lot of future medical care and no long-term impairment. You could have medical bills in the 10K to 15K range. Any formula that uses some multiple of medical bills would say that you should seek $40,000 to $60,000 in compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney might attempt it but would tell you that such a formula is not usually realistic when most of the medical costs are for diagnostic testing (MRI’s, CT’s, x-rays) that ultimately do not show damage especially when combined with a short and full recovery and a simple mistake by the person who harmed you.
When determining personal injury compensation, The McCraw Law Group looks at factors, such as:
- The extent of the poor choices of the person who harmed you.
- The potential injuries that could have occurred through those poor choices.
- The number and ages of people who could have been injured through those poor choices.
- Extent of your medical treatment versus diagnostics.
- Duration of treatment.
- Invasiveness of treatment.
- Long-term treatment needs.
- Potential of short and long-term pain and suffering.
- Potential lost earnings in the future.
- How injuries affect victim’s ability to enjoy life as he or she did before the accident.
If you were injured in an accident, we know first-hand the many challenges you are facing. We understand that the prospect of a lawsuit may be overwhelming, but we’re here to make it as easy as possible for you.
The McCraw Law Group handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis. That means that we don’t collect any fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf, whether through a negotiated settlement or in a trial. Contact a McKinney personal injury lawyer at The McCraw Law Group today to schedule a free consultation and get help with your personal injury claim.