How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Personal injury lawyers frequently receive questions about case worth. Truthfully, there is no predetermined amount any personal injury case is worth. But there are numerous factors an experienced lawyer uses to help place a reasonable value on a case. Some of these factors include: (1) Medical Expenses, (2) Pain and Suffering, (3) Lost Wages, and (4) Venue. So let’s discuss each one.
Medical Expenses Help Determine Case Worth
Often when people suffer injuries, they need medical treatment, whether it is emergency room care or chiropractic care. And, especially these days, we all understand medical treatment is expensive. Fortunately, the law allows an injury victim to make a claim for the reasonable costs associated with medical care caused by negligence.
Under Georgia law, medical expenses are referred to as “special damages.” Special damages are those that have an exact numeric value. In other words, we know exactly what the medical care costs. For example, if you suffer a neck injury in a car accident and have to spend two thousand dollars to get a CT scan, then you have a claim for two thousand dollars in special damages.
Medical expense factor into the value of a personal injury case. We can always argue that our client should win the amount of medical expenses, plus more for pain and suffering. Generally, the more medical expenses there are, the more insurance companies presume the person has suffered. So, high medical expenses can lead to a high settlement. Conversely, low medical expenses might cause an insurance company to make a low settlement offer. Of course, there are times when a person is catastrophically injured or killed and does not have much in medical expenses. In that circumstance, the injury will drive the value of the case.
Pain and Suffering Is A Big Factor In Case Worth
Georgia law allows injury victims to receive compensation for pain and suffering. The idea is that financial compensation can ease suffering. At first, this could seem like the law uses money to make people happy. But, that’s not the case. The law uses money to make injured persons whole. For example, if a person is paralyzed in a car accident, a high pain and suffering award might allow that person to buy an accessible van. A monetary award might allow the person to place a wheelchair ramp at their home. Money could allow a person to hire a care provider. Although money cannot reverse the physical injury, it can help the victim put things in place to ease the loss.
Obviously, there is no amount amount of money that can make up for serious physical harm. Therefore, there is no specific amount that you’re entitled to for pain and suffering. Instead, the law allows a jury to determine the value of your pain and suffering. The jury determines an amount based upon its “enlightened conscious.” Now, that basically means the jury will collectively determine what your pain and suffering is worth.
Now, not every case goes to trial. When a case doesn’t go to trial maybe, your lawyer must negotiate the value of your pain and suffering. The lawyer does this utilizing experience and knowledge about what similarly injured persons received and what he or she is able to convince the defendant to pay.
Lost Wages Are A Factor
Like medical expenses, lost wages are special damages. If you had to miss time at work due to an injury, we can easily calculate the value of what you lost. Also, you are entitled to the value of any vacation days you lost or any paid leave you lost. Lost future wages can also factor into the equation. For example, if you are hurt sufficiently that we know you will not be able to work in the future, we can calculate the amount of wages you will lose. This calculation can also include the loss of any fringe benefits, such as health insurance.
The last fact addressed here is venue. Venue is the location where you must file your lawsuit. Generally, Georgia law requires that you sue a defendant in the county where the defendant lives.
Venue can have a profound impact on case worth. If you must file a case in a very conservative venue, you can assume that the jurors, who are citizens of that county, will be conservative in any verdict. Likewise, if you have to file in a liberal county, you can assume that the jurors will be more generous with a verdict. Even if your case settles before trial, the venue will determine the size of the settlement. This is because everyone knows where the case would go to trial but for the settlement.
Determining case worth is not an exact science. But an experienced injury attorney can make a reasonable determination about value after gathering the appropriate information. Be wary of any lawyer who tells you what your case is worth with little information. They are either telling you a big number hoping that will entice you to hire them, or they are placing your case in a box despite your unique circumstances.