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People's Law Guide

 

How Much is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?

Russell M Thompson, Esq.
Website

01/22/11

After "Do I have a claim?" this is the most common question asked by accident victims. To answer this question an attorney will consider how your injuries have impacted your life. For example, have they (a) limited your ability to earn a livelihood, (b) disrupted your personal relationships, (c) disabled you, or (d) affected your mental health. The value of your claim will vary widely depending on the nature of your accident. Accident victims should consider these questions:

  1. HOW SERIOUS OR DISABLING IS YOUR INJURY? It goes against logic, but the severity of an injury has different values (either more or less) depending on who represents you in court. Insurance companies will seek to play down the seriousness of an injury while an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer will help you get the fullest compensation you deserve.
  2. HOW MUCH ARE YOUR MEDICAL BILLS? Having a solid paper trail gives your case much stronger standing if you have to go to court. Gathering the medical records and bills and projecting future medicals bills with the help of the doctors is the job of a competent lawyer skilled in personal injury.
  3. WAS THE OTHER PARTY CLEARLY AT FAULT? For example, in an automobile accident case, the degree of negligence of the other driver (driving drunk, ran a red light, etc.) will have a tremendous impact on the amount of damages you receive. You need a competent lawyer to IMMEDIATELY investigate your case before evidence disappears and witnesses' memories fade.
  4. ARE YOU DISFIGURED IN ANY WAY? Scars and other disfigurements add to the damages you have suffered and, in the hands of a competent lawyer, to the value of your case.
  5. ARE YOU SOMEONE A JURY WOULD FIND SYMPATHETIC? Juries, after all, are human, and the emotional effect of your story will impact how they determine the outcome of your case. Knowing this, insurance companies will pay more in settlement to people whom a prospective jury would like.
  6. HOW MUCH INSURANCE COVERAGE IS AVAILABLE? If you were injured in an automobile accident and your damages are legitimately worth $100,000, but the negligent driver has only $20,000 insurance coverage and no assets; $20,000 may be all that's available. However, a skilled attorney may be able to collect money over and above the amount of the other driver's insurance from uninsured/under insured motorist coverage, another potentially at fault persons or from other available sources.

Most importantly, you should not settle your claim until you have finished treating with your doctor, are medically stable and know the full extent of your injuries. The value of your claim depends on the total amount of your medical bills and lost wages, the amount of time it takes to become medically stable and the extent of any long-term problems due to the accident. Your claim will also include a factor for your "pain and suffering". But there are no magic formulas to put a monetary value on your claim. An experienced attorney can help by putting your case together and negotiating with the insurance company to get fair value for your claim (not just the minimum that the insurance company wants to pay). If the insurance company does not offer to pay a fair value, the attorney can file a lawsuit and try your case. In my experience, people will usually do better with an attorney than by themselves.

If you have suffered an injury as a result of the negligence of another, consult an attorney quickly to determine who may be liable and to devise a strategy to hold that party accountable for your damages.

Russell M Thompson, Esq. is an attorney who has been practicing since 1985. Located in Sunrise, his office handles Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death. He can be reached at (954) 316-8988, e-mail: rthompson@rmtlawfirm.com or his website at www.ForTheInjuredOnly.com

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