If you have been involved in an automobile accident, one of the most common questions that likely comes to your mind is, “How much is my personal injury case worth?” The simple answer to this question is that there is no simple answer! Let me begin by saying that a personal injury claim is precisely worth any amount of money that you would consider accepting as a settlement of your claim.
Determining the value of a personal injury claim requires understanding the mechanics of an accident, the individuals involved, insurance companies involved, jurisdiction, claim history, health insurance, injuries suffered and treatment sought. With that being said, many experienced personal injury lawyers will admit that clients and lawyers should be focused on presenting a strong claim rather than the exact dollar amount a claim may be worth.
To my knowledge, no accident formula exists. There is no accurate personal injury settlement calculator or equation. No lawyer, in my opinion, can truthfully say that they can calculate a personal injury settlement through means of a formula or calculation. Moreover, there is no mystical or magical mathematical calculation that states, “The insurance company shall pay X times your medical bills.”
Despite what conventional Internet wisdom or your friends and family may be “advising” you of, any person that suggests that there is an accident settlement formula is admitting to their genuine lack of understanding of personal injury law.
If you are wondering what you can do to assist in calculating the value of your personal injury claim, the answer again is simple. You really cannot, and you probably should not spend time trying to calculate your claim until your case is ready.
Depending where you are on the accident process, you may not have enough information to determine what the value of your case may be. Moreover, any information you may have already received may have come from less than reliable sources.
For example, if the insurance adjuster is already talking about your claim as if there is something wrong with it or is beginning to talk negatively about your medical treatment, you may begin to formulate an opinion or expectation as to the value of your claim from the insurance company. This has the potential to shape your own perceptive of the claim or medical treatment.
It is important to remember that the insurance company is the most likely source of disinformation or negative information about your accident claim, and it is the insurance adjuster’s goal to ensure that you accept as little as possible for your injuries.
Moreover, you should spend as much energy as possible seeking the treatment and care your body and mind may medically need. It is not uncommon for personal injury accident victims to become so overwhelmed by the telephone calls, doctor visits and medical bills that you begin to focus on ending your claim as opposed to seeking the compensation your claim deserves.
Should you decide to hire a personal injury lawyer, considering finding a lawyer that will take over the entire case with all of its stressors. More importantly, consider finding a lawyer that will allow you to focus on seeking the medical care that you need.
The best way to determine the value of a personal injury claim is to begin analyzing your medical bills and records. The medical bills are often described as the fuel in of any personal injury case. If you have lots of fuel, your personal injury claim may be able to travel further. However, to continue the analogy, it helps to know the best route to get to the desired settlement destination.
With that being said, valuing a car accident claim can be challenging for even the most experienced personal injury lawyers. The practical reality of the justice system is that juries are typically inconsistent in awarding damages or monetizing injuries for accident victims. As such, settlement calculations tend to be somewhat more accurate given the lack of jury involvement.
For many laypeople, settlement values or expected settlements are calculated by multiplying the medical expenses by three (or some other multiplier). Unfortunately, this theory has led to as many people undervaluing their injury claims as people overvaluing their claims. The ‘Three Times Medical Expenses” theory is commonly conceived of as a personal injury myth with no bias in fact or practice. Moreover, this myth is perpetuated from one accident victim to another and does nothing to help injury victims seek adequate compensation.
Additionally, this myth is even more humorous to the experienced injury lawyer or educated accident victim when you question what medical expenses are being multiplied: billed or paid?
While the myth of three times the medical expenses is often the goal for many unsophisticated accident victims, the myth or belief that three times the medical expenses is adequate is often detrimental or harmful. As such, a settlement of three times the medical expenses (or even three times the specials) would be a poor and inadequate outcome considering the mechanics of an accident, insurance companies, jurisdiction, claim history, health insurance, injuries suffered and treatment sought. It is worth noting that each claim and case is different, and one and a half times the medical expenses may be an adequate settlement.
To be completely clear, there is no reliable formula or equation for personal injury claims. It can be detrimental, inaccurate and illogical to determine the value of your personal injury claim by multiplying medical expenses by three or any other number.
If you plan to handle your own claim, you will likely spend a significant amount of time and energy learning about personal injury and how to effectively handle your claim. However, if you are entering into negotiations with an insurance adjuster using terminology like “three times the medical expenses” or “damage multipliers,” you may alert the insurance adjuster that you are inexperienced and that you do not know what your claim should be worth. If and when you decide to use “formula” talk in your negotiations with the insurance company, you are effectively announcing that you are inexperienced and ill-equipped to handle your claim.
Warning: Please be aware that each case is different and is governed by its own set of unique facts and circumstances. Each claim should be evaluated on its own merits. It is not recommended that you compare your claim to that of any other person. Moreover, a law firm’s past outcomes or settlements are not representative or useful in predicting a lawyer’s or law firm’s future results.