Recovering from a personal injury accident involves a host of different aspects which are all important to the end goal of getting back to your regular life. When you’re hurt, getting a fair assessment of the value of your claim is a top priority.
You want to know what your claim is worth and what things might affect the value it. You may be wondering how exactly these elements affect the dollar value placed on your settlement. It’s important to understand the factors that impact the value of your injury settlement for better insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.
A lot of the value of your settlement comes from the value of your pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of normal body function. Unlike your economic damages for things like medical bills and lost wages, there’s no black and white way to calculate your non-economic damages.
Instead, you add up your economic damages and apply a multiplier to arrive at an approximate value for your settlement. Most multipliers are around 1.5. However, they range from 1 in cases with mild injuries to 5 in cases with very severe, lifelong injuries. There are a number of different factors that determine whether you get a higher or lower multiplier.
Factors That Make a Multiplier Higher:
If these circumstances are present in your case, your multiplier might be on the high side:
- Broken bones or any injury to the hard tissues of your body instead of soft tissues like muscles
- Traumatic brain injury
- Nerve and spine damage
- Joint injuries especially if they require surgery or reconstruction
- Medial treatment from doctors, specialists, and hospitals rather than from chiropractors or assistants
- Medications to take for the short-term or long-term
- A large number of follow-up appointments
- Medical costs that are primarily for treatment rather than for diagnosis
- Permanent loss of use of one or more body parts or functions
- Injuries that require a very long time for recovery
- Scarring or permanent disfigurement
- Injuries that impact your daily life such as injuries that make it harder to walk, stand or sit, travel or work specific jobs
- Injuries that cause you to miss important things in your life such as needing time off of school to recover, a missed vacation or not being able to play sports that you used to enjoy
- Injuries that cause you to depend on others in ways you didn’t need help before
Factors That Make a Multiplier Lower:
If these elements are present in the case, you’re more likely to have a lower multiplier in your case:
- Injuries to only soft tissues. Your injuries might include sprains, muscle strains, ligament pulls, and bruising
- Expenses that are primarily for medical diagnosis rather than for medical treatment
- Treatment from individuals who are not doctors such as chiropractors or assistant therapists
- A lack of need for medication
- Only a brief period before you’re back to life as normal
- No permanent injuries or loss of use that lasts forever
- No visible scars
- You can still care for yourself without additional assistance
- Only a few medical visits necessary
These factors aren’t the only things that go into valuing your injury settlement. You and the other party will both look at the strengths and weaknesses of your overall case.
If your case is very strong and the other side’s liability for your injuries are apparent, you’re more likely to get a higher settlement. On the other hand, if there are problems in your case such as a lack of witnesses or some debate about the nature and extent of your injuries, you’re more likely to have a lower injury settlement.
Other factors that might impact the value of your personal injury settlement include:
- The credibility of your witnesses
- Whether your witnesses are biased or they tell conflicting stories
- A lack of medical records to document your injuries
- Whether you share liability for any part of the accident
- Whether any pre-existing conditions could have contributed to your injuries
- If there is other evidence to corroborate witness testimony such as photographs of your injuries or property damage
- Admissions from the other party as to liability
- If you seek medical attention immediately after your injury
- Whether you carefully follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan
- Carefully bringing your claim for recovery including naming the right parties, meeting procedural requirements, and observing filing deadlines
The Value of Your Case Might Change
You might end up getting what you think is a fair value of your claim. You might get more, and you might get less. Bringing a claim in court isn’t always predictable. It’s a good idea to do everything that you can to maximize your claim.
However, an evaluation of your claim is only an estimation. There are things that you can do to maximize your claim, and there may be things that happen that are out of your control. While you do everything that you can to bring the best case possible, ultimately, the value of your settlement is what the other party agrees to pay you to resolve the claim.
How Can an Attorney Help?
A qualified personal injury attorney has skill and experience valuing claims. They can learn about your case and use their expertise to give you a realistic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and a likely value of your claim.
If there are things that your attorney can do or things they can instruct you to do to maximize the value of your claim, they will offer you clear directions. Ultimately, your attorney’s experience can help you make smart choices at each stage of the case, and they can help you take steps to make the most of your injury settlement.