One of the first questions that many personal injury accident victims ask is "How much is my case worth?" Many factors go into determining the value of a personal injury case, including medical expenses, the injuries involved and whether or not there was any loss of employment. Once medical treatment is complete and the expenses are calculated, a personal injury attorney can begin to determine the case value. Here are a few of the considerations when determining case value.
- What is my case worth?
- What is the extent of the injuries?
The basis for determining a case value in most personal injury accident cases is the extent of the injuries. How severe were the injuries? Are the injuries healed, or will you continue to experience ongoing medical issues? What treatment was necessary to treat the injuries, a doctor's visit, or surgery and extensive medical care?
- How long before the accident victim got medical attention?
If an injured party waits days or even weeks to go see a doctor, he or she will have a more difficult time proving that the injuries are related to the accident and establishing the severity of the injuries.
- Did the injured person adhere to medical advice?
When patients don't follow doctors' instructions, defendants often use this to argue that the injury wasn't severe or that patients contributed to the injury by not following medical advice. It's important to keep doctors' appointments, undergo treatment and avoid activities that could contribute to the severity of the injury.
- What are the medical bills?
While many things influence the value of a personal injury case, one of the biggest determinants in the actual numbers is the medical treatment total. For this reason, it may be impossible to truly value a case until medical treatment is complete, or at least until an accident victim has recovered to the full extent that he or she is capable.
- Are there future medical expenses?
If an accident victim suffered a severe injury that entails future medical treatment, those expenses are calculated and figured into the value of the case. It's important to get a good medical opinion that can anticipate any surgeries or other large medical expenses for ongoing injuries when determining the case value.
- Are there lost wages?
Lost wages are another important factor in valuing a case. If an accident victim missed work as a result of an accident, he or she may be eligible to claim lost wages as part of the case. If the injury is so severe that the personal injury accident victim is unable to return to work or you must seek other employment that pays less, he or she may be able to claim lost wages until retirement age as part of the case value.
- How painful were the injuries, did it impact the victim’s ability to perform their daily activities, and are the effects of the injuries permanent?
In addition to medical bills and lost wages, the law allows an accident victim to recover for their pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and any physical disfigurement. These types of injuries are more difficult to value, but an experienced personal injury attorney who has lots of trial experience can advise you the range of value for such injuries.
- Has the accident victim been previously injured?
If the injury is simply an aggravation of a pre-existing condition, the defendant will argue that the case is worth less than a new injury. Many pre-existing conditions make it easy to re-injure oneself, so defendants argue that a re-injury is worth less and may be inevitable. However, an experienced personal injury attorney is able to gather evidence to show that an aggravation of a pre-existing condition does not reduce the value of the case.
- Who was responsible for the accident?
Texas accidents are governed by comparative negligence law, meaning that if the other party is mostly responsible but the accident victim is found to be partly responsible, he or she can't make a full recovery. For example, if the other party is 80% liable, and the accident victim is 20% liable, he or she can only recover 80% of the value of the case.
- Is there sufficient documentation?
Everything in a personal injury accident case must be documented in order to clearly demonstrate injuries, medical treatment costs and lost wages. If the accident victim alleges expenses that he or she cannot back with documentation, the defendant will not want to pay for it.