Importance of Treating / Value of Claim
How Much is Your Claim Worth?
You have been hurt in an accident and now you want to know how much you should expect to recover in from your personal injury claim.
There are many factors too be considered when determining the value of an injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will carefully examine your injuries and all the facts involved in your specific case. Your attorney will look at the severity of the collision, the nature and extent of your injuries, the types of treatment, the length of your treatment, whether you are now permanently disabled, and the impact the injuries have had on a your life.
There is no magic formula or rule of thumb in determining the value of your claim. While the following factors are not the only ones that impact the value of your claim, they are very important things that can do so.
1. Scope or Severity of Injury. Simply put, the more severe your injury the more money you should be able to get for that injury. For example, broken bones are worth more than bruising. Likewise, multiple injuries are generally worth more than a single injury. An injury requiring surgery and a lengthy recovery has a much higher “value” than a neck sprain.
2. Amount of Medical Bill and Out-of-Pocket Expenses. The total amount of your medical expenses is a factor in determining the value of your claim. The higher your expenses, the more your case is probably worth. However, this is not always true. For example, cases with high diagnostic medical costs such as MRI’s as opposed to higher treatment costs have less value. Treat, treat, treat. If your doctor recommends physical therapy, make sure you go to ALL of your physical therapy sessions. They are important in helping you establish the best value for your case.
3. Your Liability. If you are partially at fault for the accident, your percentage of fault is subtracted from the amount of your award, and the value of your claim is diminished. See the discussion of comparative negligence (fault).
4. Prior Injuries. If you have significant prior medical issues, it may affect the value of your claim either positively or negatively. There is a saying in the law that “you take your victim as you find them.” You are entitled to compensation when the accident aggravates prior injuries or pre-existing conditions. Prior injuries are a significant factor in the value of your claim.
5. Your Age. How old you are will come into consideration to some extent in determining the value of your claim. Very young victims and very elderly victims may receive a higher settlement due to sympathetic feelings towards innocent children and elderly people. Along with your age, your anticipated life expectancy, and the number of years that you would otherwise be expected to continue working are also factors.
6. Effects of the Injury. The way your injuries affect you is also a factor in determining the value of your claim. Can you perform everyday activities like walking, talking, eating, and driving a car? Did you have to have surgery? What is your recovery time? Will you be able to return to work? We recommend that you keep a journal of all the ways your injuries have affected your day-to-day activities.
7. Income and Job Status. Your annual income, the amount of time missed from work, and whether your injuries require you to change jobs or are you able to return to work at all is a significant factor in valuing your case. If you have a high-income position your calculated lost wages will be higher than if you have a lower income position. Future anticipated income is usually demonstrated using past pay stubs and tax returns.
8. Insurance Status. Although it may not seem fair, the financial status of the at-fault party plays a significant role in your ability to recover damages for your injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death. If the party responsible for your accident had a liability policy limit of $50,000, that is the maximum you may recover from the at-fault insurance carrier. If the at-fault driver did not have insurance or if your damages exceeded their policy limit, you would have to recover additional compensation or fully recover damages from the responsible party personally.
If you have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage under your automobile policy you can recover up to the limit of your policy for damages caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers, and from hit-and-run accidents.
All drivers in the state of Washington are required to carry liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident and $10,000 for damage to the property of others per accident. If you were seriously injured in a car accident your medical bills will undoubtedly far exceed a minimal policy and more than likely exceed limits of a 50/100 policy.
It is in your best interests to hire a law firm that will do more than just file a claim with an insurance company on your behalf, especially because the available insurance policy may turn out to have insufficient limits to fully cover your damages.
A resourceful accident attorney will investigate all sources of compensation and pursue all avenues of recovery for injured claimants. You may have claims against additional parties who bear responsibility for your accident or injury. Some of these persons or entities include the following:
The driver of a vehicle that negligently caused an accident is liable for the injured person’s injuries and is the most obvious source of recovery.
All owners of a vehicle may be liable for the negligent conduct of the driver. These owners may include the parents of drivers under the age of 18, co-owners of the vehicle, such as a family member, or a business entity that provides an employee with vehicles as an employment benefit.
Employers may bear responsibility for auto accidents caused by their employees while on the job. In certain corporate contexts, parent companies could be held responsible for the conduct of their wholly-owned subsidiaries.
Government entities and agencies may be partially liable for auto accidents. Cities, counties, and even the state may have failed to design, construct, and maintain safe roads or implement proper traffic controls (including light signals, stop signs, and speed limit postings).
Automobile manufacturers may face separate liability for negligent design or defective manufacture of a vehicle, or an automobile component, such as a defective airbag or braking system causing injuries.
Uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage may exist under your own automobile policy, which can provide additional sources of compensation in a car accident under certain circumstances.
If you have been injured in an accident there is a good chance someone owes you money. Call our office today to talk to an Auto Accident Attorney.