“How much is my case worth?”
We get this question, all the time. With few exceptions, the answer is “I don’t know, yet.” When determining what your case is worth (for personal injury cases, car wreck cases, automobile accident cases, or any other non-work injury case) we don’t just pull a number out of a hat. Instead, we consider the following factors:
1. Whose fault was the injury?
While you may have heard that Kentucky is a “no-fault” state, that means that when you are in a car wreck, there are certain benefits that are paid regardless of whose fault the wreck was. These are called “no-fault” or PIP benefits.
When determining what your case is worth, we have to first look at whether your injuries are 100% the result of someone else’s fault, partially the result of someone else’s fault, or were the result of an unavoidable situation or were caused 100% by your fault.
So long as someone else is at least partially the cause of your injuries, your case has value. Your case is worth more if the other person or company is 100% responsible for your injuries. As the other person or company’s responsibility decreases, your case is worth less.
2. What are your injuries and medical treatments?
This one is simple – the worse your injuries, the more your case is worth. However, insurance companies usually think your case is worth more if you have more medical treatment. That’s why it is in your interests (both medically and for purposes of your claim) to make sure you follow all recommendations from your doctors and other medical providers.
Remember, if the doctor says “jump”, you say “how high” and then mention that jumping hurt any and all parts of your body that it actually hurt.
3. How much insurance coverage is available?
The fact of the matter is that insurance is the tail that wags the dog when you are claiming someone else or some company caused your injuries.
Typically, most recoveries are limited to available insurance. We’ve all heard the phrase “you can’t get blood out of a turnip.”
However, this doesn’t mean that if there is more insurance coverage, your case is worth more.
What is more accurate is that insurance acts as a “cap” on expected claim value. If the “cap” is low, your claim may be worth less than it otherwise could be. If the “cap” is high, the insurance company may be willing to pay more to resolve the claim.
4. Did you lose any wages?
This is important because lost wages are an additional, objective number for the insurance company to consider. Further, if you have lost wages, you are typically younger and healthier than a retired, disabled, or non-working person.
5. Do you have any chronic health conditions or prior injuries to the parts of the body injured?
While the law in Kentucky protects injured people by requiring the insurance company to pay for any worsening of an already injured or problem body part (think of it as the Humpty Dumpty rule), usually, if you have previous injuries or chronic health conditions (such as osteoporosis) your case is worth less, unless your compromised condition was not a problem before, and you incurred significant medical treatment after your injury that a normal person would not have gone through.
6. Would you make a good witness or a bad witness?
Ultimately, the more relatable you are, the more your case is worth. This doesn’t mean that you have to fake it like a politician. However, if an average person finds you likeable, relatable, or charming, then your case is worth more.
Jurors (and insurance companies) don’t like whiners, people with criminal pasts, or people who aren’t involved in some sort of activity. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but the more interested you are in getting better, the more likely your case is worth more.
7. What are other cases like yours settling for? What are the expected results at a trial for a case like yours?
These days, most cases settle. As a result of the increasing use of settlements to resolve injuries claims, an experienced lawyer can tell you what the average range of settlement should be for your case, after considering the above and other factors.
If you can’t settle, an experienced lawyer can tell you what your chances of winning at trial would be, and the monetary ranges that the lawyer thinks are to be expected, after considering the above and other factors.
Ultimately, you will have to make the determination of what your case is worth. You do this by seeing what the settlement the insurance company is willing to offer, and comparing it to the expected results at a trial. We can help you see what the case is worth, as long as we know the above information.
If you want to know more, give us a call at (270) 599-0642. Stay safe, everyone.