What Is My Case Worth?
There is no magic formula that can be used to determine the value of your case at such an early stage. Be cautious of any attorney that tells you the value of your case so early on as that attorney is either incompetent, inexperienced, or is simply telling prospective clients what they want to hear so they will retain that lawyer. The truth is the value of any case is dependent on multiple factors that can vary from case to case and client to client. Explaining these factors will help you understand how they affect the value of a case.
The issue of liability should be the first factor that is analyzed in determining the value of a case. Can you prove that the defendant was 100% at fault for your injuries and were you partially at fault?
Any time that liability is in dispute, such as an intersection accident where both drivers insist each had a green light, the value of a case will be decreased. In this instance, assuming there is no eyewitnesses or other evidence, it will come down to who a jury would believe. If you have the same injury in a case where it is undisputed that you were stopped at a red light and the other driver hit you in the rear, the value will be increased.
Extent of Injuries and Length of Treatment
Another factor in determining how much your case is worth is the extent of your injuries. Unfortunately, the full extent of your injuries may not be known at the beginning of your case. For instance, often times, with some injuries such as to the neck and back, it may not be known how much treatment is required to fully recover.
It is typically the preferred medical option to initially undergo physical therapy. While some clients may recover with only physical therapy, others may require injections and still others may require surgery. The value of a case will not be known until the full extent of your injuries and medical needs are clear. In most instances, surgery increases the value of your case. In addition, the cost of your medical bills becomes part of your damages and will be included in the calculation of the worth of your case.
Sometimes misunderstood by injury victims, insurance coverage becomes an important factor in how much you may be able to recover for your injuries. There are times when the at-fault party has minimal insurance or even no insurance. This will impact how much you will be able to recover.
For example, in New York, the minimum amount of car insurance that is required by law is $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. This means that although your injuries and damages may be “worth” 10 times the insurance coverage, you may be limited in recovering only the $25,000 provided by the at-fault party’s insurance policy. While it is true that you can still try to recover from the at-fault party’s personal assets, typically drivers with minimal policies do not have the assets necessary to compensate you fully.
At The O’Connor Law Firm, we review all possible insurance policies that may apply to your accident, including your own insurance. For example, in a motor vehicle accident case, the injury victim may have an underinsured provision in their own policy that can provide additional insurance if the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage to cover your injuries.
It is important to understand that every case and every client is unique. Two people with the same initial injury may have cases with different values based upon a combination of the multiple factors discussed. One client with a fractured pinkie finger may not recover as much as another client with a fractured pinkie finger if one client needed surgery and the other did not. Additional factors can also make a difference:
- Age: Future damages are dependent on life expectancy tables – the younger you are, the more years you will be awarded damages.
- Occupation: A singer’s fractured pinkie finger will generally be worth less than a pianist or a surgeon’s fractured finger as the injury could affect future earning capacity differently.
- Venue: The location where your case is filed may affect the value of your case. Generally, the same case will have a higher value in the Bronx than in Staten Island based upon a history of jury verdicts in these counties. Most lawyers who have trial experience will have a good understanding of each county’s verdict histories and case values.
Contact Us If You Have Further Questions
If you have additional questions about your injury case, please give us a call and we will gladly discuss how we can help you. We have offices in Manhattan and Staten Island and can be reached at 212-566-4868 or 718-948-3500.