Every client at one time or another will ask their personal injury lawyer, “what is my personal injury case worth?” That question presents many difficulties. Depending on how far along the personal injury claim, reasonable minds can differ greatly on the answer. Further, a large number of factors determine the value of a personal injury claim under Florida law.
To answer the question, a personal injury attorney would need to know information about the client’s medical history, their medical care and medical bills, their recommendations for future medical care, the circumstances of the incident, the insurance company’s coverage, and a bunch of other information.
The Client Determines What a Personal Injury Case is Worth
The law firm an injury victim picks plays a role in the size of their personal injury settlement. But clients themselves are a factor to consider when evaluating a personal injury claim. Insurance companies evaluate claimants from the moment they learn of a potential accident or injury.
Insurance companies understand certain factors that greatly impact the value of the case. Therefore, adjusters learn as much as possible about those factors as early on in the claim as possible. An insurance company will look into people’s injury and accident history, criminal history, and simple personal behavior (through social media) before reading even one record about the injury victim’s medical treatment for their latest accident.
A claimant that an insurance company thinks is dishonest is unlikely to receive a fair settlement. Therefore, a criminal history, especially one involving crimes of dishonesty, will greatly affect potential settlement value. A person cannot change their past. Therefore, there is not much a client or their attorney can do about this.
Further, insurance companies will run a claims search on personal injury claimants. If a claimant has any history of making injury claims, the insurance company will investigate them. But regardless of their findings, insurance companies are much more likely to scrutinize a “repeat customer” than someone with no history of injury claims.
Lastly, an injury victim’s personal behavior (usually displayed on social media) will play a role in the insurance companies evaluation of their claim. I have given every client I have ever signed up a disclaimer about the pitfalls of social media. Not only can claimants undermine their injury claims, they can also reveal behaviors that make them unlikeable to insurance companies and adjusters. When this happens, insurance companies are less likely to settle at a high number.
Liability’s Role in Determining Case Values
In theory, liability’s role in determining what a personal injury case is worth should be simple. If the defendant is 100% liable for the accident, they should be made to pay for 100% of the damage they caused. Then, in cases of comparative negligence, the amount of fault held by the tortfeasor is multiplied by the damages to find out what the negligent party owes.
However, liability’s role is almost never so simple. First of all, determining the percentage of fault in a comparative negligence case is art, not science.
Further, in situations where a defendant was blatantly negligent, juries will often look to punish them with larger verdicts. Therefore, while we may think that all negligent people that cause accidents are created equal, a simple rear-end collision at a stop sign is often treated far differently than a slip and fall at a business where the owner has been warned repeatedly about his slippery floors, and done nothing about.
Causation Helps Determine What a Personal Injury Case is Worth
Insurance companies attack older claimants on the idea that they have degenerative change in their bodies. After the age of 18, almost everyone has some amount of degeneration in their body. However, insurance companies will use evidence of this degeneration as proof positive that a claimant’s injuries aren’t related to the trauma of the slip and fall or car accident.
Additionally, when the claimant has a history of injuries to the same area of the body, adjusters will argue that these latest claimed injuries are either unrelated or an aggravation of an already existing injury.
Another common causation argument insurance adjusters enjoy making is about property damage. In accidents with a moderate or minor impact, insurance companies will make the argument that if the vehicle was not very damaged in the crash, the claimant also can’t be very hurt.
Damages’ Role in Determining Personal Injury Case Value
Victims incur damages when they suffer an injury in a slip and fall or automobile accident. Florida law allows victims to claim certain damages from the person that is responsible for their injuries. They are able to claim economic and non-economic damages. A Brief list of those damages are:
- Medical bills and treatment costs
- Future medical care costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress (Mental Anguish)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The damages an injury victim suffers play a pivotal role in determining what a personal injury case is worth. Absent these damages, regardless of the severity of a crash, an insurance adjuster will make a nominal offer to settle every time.
Call Knapp Accident & Injury Law for a Free Case Evaluation
Knapp Accident & Injury Law offers free consultations. If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall or car crash, call Knapp Accident & Injury Law at (813) 568-3724. Alexander Knapp will discuss everything that has happened in your case up until now and the best way to treat your pain while maximizing the value of your claim.