The single most common question I get from clients and potential clients is “what is my case worth”? After all, the reason most people hire personal injury attorneys is to represent them and to recover the money lost as a result of accident-related injuries. Injuries from accidents often result in significant economic losses such as large medical bills and lost income. The fact of the matter is that our civil justice system provides only one remedy to accident victims and that is monetary compensation.
How much an injury case is worth is a fair and reasonable question for any accident victim to ask, but a difficult question to answer. This is particularly true during an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. There are numerous factors that influence what your case is worth and, despite the myths that are out there on this issue, there is no magic formula or hard fast rule for determining the value of a particular personal injury case.
Determining the Value of Your Injury Case
Among the many factors that are considered when determining value are:
• Insurance policy limits
• Whether the case is settled out of court or an award is determined by jury
• Who is at fault for causing the accident
• Amount of damage to the vehicle
• Severity of injuries
• Amount of medical bills
• Future medical expenses, if any
• Lost income, including future lost income
• Gaps in medical treatment
• Change or impact on lifestyle, including ability to participate in hobbies, etc.
• Whether the individual is married and how the spouse was impacted by the accident
• Permanency of injuries
• Preexisting injuries not attributable to the accident
• Out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the injured party
• Whether the injured person was wearing a seat belt, and if not, whether their injuries could have been prevented or minimized if they were wearing a seat belt.
• Future medical care, if any
• Is the individual likeable, i.e., will a jury like him or her.
These are some of the many factors that are considered when determining the value of a personal injury case. In most cases you will want to wait until you have recovered as much as possible from your injuries and completed your medical treatment before trying to determine the value of your case. This allows your attorney to evaluate all of the factors above to determine a fair and reasonable settlement offer. Even though it may be wise to wait until you have recovered as much as possible before attempting to settle your case, you should not wait to hire a lawyer.
Insurance Policy Limits
One of the first things I try to determine is how much insurance is available. The amount of insurance available in any given case is one of the biggest factors in determining value. For example, suppose you are in an accident and incur $200,000 in medical bills and other damages such as lost income. If the at-fault driver had only $100,000 in insurance coverage and you did not have underinsured motorist coverage, your case would most likely be worth only $100,000 because there is simply no additional funds to pursue even though your damages are more than the available insurance coverage. On the other hand, if the at-fault driver has $250,000 in coverage but your injuries and damages are only $25,000, it is most likely that your case will not be worth the full amount of the available insurance limits.
Out-Of-Court Settlement or Jury Trial?
In most cases it will be an insurance company or jury that will decide what the actual value of your case is. A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate the factors and evidence that adjusters and juries will have to consider. This can then be used to make a settlement offer for an amount that will compensate the injured person. This often leads to a negotiation in an effort to reach a reasonable and realistic settlement amount. If the case cannot be settled, then it proceeds to trial and a jury or arbitrator will decide how much compensation should be paid.
Sometimes the recovery process can take several months or longer. Remember, you only have two years in Arizona to file a personal injury lawsuit. The sooner you involve an attorney in Mesa AZ to protect your rights, the better off you will be. You have only one opportunity to settle your case, that is why it is so important to have an attorney who knows how to competently evaluate your case to determine its value before settlement negotiations begin.
All that said, we know you want at least some kind of figure to think about. So, here you go. The average jury award in an Arizona personal injury cases is $820,486. The median compensatory award for personal injury trials in Arizona is $30,000. Plaintiffs struggle on liability in Arizona: plaintiffs received damages in 40 percent of personal injury cases that go to trial. The national average is around 53%.
Not surprisingly, the most common type of car accident lawsuits in Arizona are rear end collision claims, which make up 27% of the motor vehicle lawsuits filed. Intersection collisions and turning collisions were also prominent at 13% and 12%, respectively. Truck accidents lawsuits were 11% of the overall total of accident lawsuits filed.
Jury Verdict Research found that that the median money damage award in vehicle accident cases in Arizona is $16,929. Plaintiffs win money damages in 53 percent of cases that go to trial.
JVR also breaks down the type of accident: rear-end accidents accounted for 27 percent of the total number of plaintiff verdicts; intersection accidents accounted for 13 percent; turning collisions accounted for 12 percent; truck accidents accounted for 11 percent; chain reaction collisions accounted for 9 percent. All other liabilities made up 8 percent or less of the total. Your mileage may vary, but we hope that helps give you an idea. For further questions, please contact our office. We’re always happy to talk with you.
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