If any attorney tells you how much your case is worth soon after your injury, you should question the attorney’s judgment. There are many factors that go into placing the value on a case. The value of the case may be different depending on whether the case is going to settle or if the case is going to be tried.
Factors That Affect the Value of Your Case
The following are a few of the considerations that affect the value of your case.
- What is the nature of your injuries?
- What is the extent of your injuries?
- Are your injuries temporary or permanent?
- What are your functional limitations?
- What is the amount of your medical bills?
- What is the amount of your loss of earnings?
- How clear is it that the other party was at fault?
- Did you contribute to the accident or injury?
- Is your treating physician a specialist?
- How well will your physician be able to communicate to the jury?
- Did you have any prior injuries similar to the injuries involved in this incident?
- Did you have any pre-existing condition that made you more susceptible to injury?
- How well will your attorney be able to demonstrate your injuries and damages?
- Where will the case be tried?
- How good are the defendant’s expert witnesses?
- How good are your expert witnesses?
- How good is the defendant’s attorney?
- How good is your attorney?
- What is the amount of insurance the defendant has?
- Does the defendant have assets to satisfy any judgment in excess of the insurance?
- Has the insurance company committed bad faith that will result in opening up the insurance policy? For related information go to Insurance Bad Faith.
Types of Damages:
The one thing that is known at the outset of any case is the types of damages one can seek. These damages are divided up into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost earnings, lost profits, loss of earning capacity, property damage, loss of use and loss of profits. In wrongful death actions, economic damage would also include loss of financial support, loss of gifts or benefits, funeral and burial expenses and the reasonable value of household services that were lost.
Non-economic damages include past and future physical pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation, and emotional distress. In wrongful death and loss of consortium cases, non-economic damages would also include loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, training and guidance and loss of enjoyment of sexual relations.
In certain cases, one can ask for punitive or exemplary damages which are designed to punish the wrongdoer for the conduct and discourage similar conduct in the future. There is no set amount for punitive damages, but the jury should consider how reprehensible was the conduct, what is a reasonable relationship between the amount of punitive damages and the harm that was caused, and what amount of damages is necessary to punish the wrongdoer and to discourage future wrongful conduct in view of the defendant’s financial condition. In order to claim punitive damages, the plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s conduct was oppressive, malicious, or fraudulent.
Now that you know the types of damages that are available and the factors that go into determining the value at settlement or the value at trial, you understand why it would be guesswork for any attorney at the outset to state what your case is worth.
Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett has the extensive resources to handle the most complex legal matters, yet is small enough to offer individualized service to our clients.
At Cheong, Denove, Rowell & Bennett we believe the more you know, the better choice you will make.