A huge number of variables go into placing a dollar value on a personal injury claim. Every case is different, but there are common factors that may increase or decrease the compensation you can receive through a settlement or a jury trial.
Evans Agrapidis, an experienced attorney from Jersey City, New Jersey, explains how insurance companies decide on the valuation of your case, naming some of the factors that go into this decision and how your attorney can help you increase your payout.
How Insurance Companies Set Valuations
In many personal injury cases, insurance adjusters use a damage formula to value your claim. This formula has a multiplier of about 1 ½ to 5 times the total amount of your medical costs related to the accident. The amount calculated by applying the multiplier is known as the settlement for “pain and suffering.” Adding the total medical expenses to the amount specified by the multiplier is how the adjuster comes up with a base figure for reimbursement. This figure includes lost income. These formulas are merely a guide for negotiation.
Many people believe that they are due exceptional amounts when the multiplier is applied. Still, clients should not jump to the conclusion that their case is worth dramatically more than comparable cases. Understandably, you would feel that your injury is worse than others’ since you are the one experiencing it for yourself or your loved one. It is best to expect 1.5 to 5 times as a multiplier and not to hope for six-plus unless your claim is truly severe.
Cases Where A High Multiplier is Justified
The other party must be responsible for the accident. The injuries need to be obvious with a medical examination. They must be painful, including fractures, wounds, tears, or displacements that require surgery or cannot be repaired. It also helps the valuation if a client is young with a longer life expectancy.
If your impairment has lasted longer than six months, you will be more likely to qualify for the higher multiplier. It also helps if you have suffered a permanent consequence that is medically documented.
Lower multipliers are appropriate when soft tissue injuries like sprains or strains are involved. The medical bills must focus on diagnosis rather than treatment. Medical treatment may be given by providers like nurses who do not have doctrate degrees. You may not have been prescribed medication for your injury and have a shorter recovery period with no residual mental or physical problems.
Factors Bringing Lower Compensation
If there is a finding that you shared part of the fault for the accident or injury, you will receive lower compensation. Being disorganized or impatient with the process can lead to a lower payout. If the insured party is more sympathetic than you are, it could lead to a lower settlement. If you do not have witnesses, your claim is also likely to be lower. Additionally, if a party has had prior injury claims it can result in a reduction of the value of the present claim.
What is Legal Fault?
Fault is a difficult concept in the legal world. It means that someone was careless or negligent in causing your accident or injury. The person at fault must pay the compensation for injuries and losses that come from doing harm.
Multiple people may be at fault. Comparative and contributory fault laws govern the intricacies of who should pay the claim.
Contributory negligence states that if you contributed to your injury, you can’t hold anyone else responsible. Some states still follow a 100 percent contributory negligence law, like New York and Mississippi. It could be very difficult to get compensation in these states when you have been partly at fault for your accident.
Comparative negligence includes the assessment of how much each party was at fault. For example, if one driver turned left too soon and the other ran a red light, they would both be negligent.
A Question of Sympathy
If your claim is more sympathetic than the insured’s claim, you may receive preferential treatment. Your attorney should be able to help you tighten up your case so that you appear more sympathetic than the insured.
Setting a Fair Value
Frequently, personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court. The insurance adjuster, factfinder, and attorneys work together to determine who was at fault for an accident and how much each party is liable to pay out through their insurance company. There is no price list or menu for setting a value. The experience of an attorney makes a difference in valuing cases. Evans Agrapidis has more than 30 years of experience and has handled more than 12,000 injury cases.
Whether your case goes to trial or is settled out of court, you will need a high-quality personal injury attorney. Be sure to search for an attorney like Evans Agrapidis, who has a good reputation and can deal with even the most complex lawsuits.
Being aware of the factors that govern out-of-court settlements is one of the most pressing tasks when you are in the process of resolving a personal injury lawsuit. Lawyers like Evans Agrapidis can navigate any difficulties you may encounter and show you that you can be fairly compensated for your injuries.