Calculating the damages in a personal injury case should be fairly simple: you gather your receipts and bills and start adding everything up. While this is part of the process, there are other factors influencing the valuation of a personal injury case.
For example, you may have non-economic damages, and these don’t come with a readily available price tag. If the accident occurs in a comparative fault state, get ready for some complications. The total amount of your damages may not be what you receive in compensation.
If you’re trying to determine the value of your personal injury case, here’s what you should know.
Factors That Can Affect the Value of a Personal Injury Case
Okay, so don’t put your calculator down. You’ll still need it to add up some of your damages, but don’t presume your damage calculations are going to match your compensation amount. There are factors you’ll need to consider. Some may benefit your case, and others you may wish you could ignore.
Severity of Your Injuries
Your medical bills are part of the equation, so don’t toss them out. This also includes any receipts detailing expenses you’ve paid. A quick note here: your medical expenses must apply to injuries sustained in the accident.
If you have pre-existing conditions, go ahead and calculate these expenses. However, be ready to back up any injury claims, especially for pre-existing conditions, with detailed medical reports.
Okay, so this is part of the damages you may receive. The insurance company will also look at the severity of your injuries. For example, your compensation amount will probably be higher if your injuries are permanent or life-altering than if your recovery is fairly easy.
The Amount of Property Damage
Most personal injury claims also include property damage. These are considered economic damages, and you should be able to claim any property repairs or replacements. A few examples of property damage can include your vehicle and any belongings inside. Your laptop, smartphone, purse, and sunglasses can all be considered personal property.
Save all receipts for repairs or replacements, along with any estimates. The insurance company will want to see these before deciding on your case value.
You already know the importance of saving your medical bills. Your medical expenses are different from the severity of your injuries. To help clarify how your claim’s value is determined, think of your medical expenses being listed on a different line than your injury severity. In other words, the two figures are added together to help arrive at a compensation amount.
Even if you have all of your medical bills in a neat pile, don’t accept a settlement offer until consulting with a personal injury attorney. Your medical expenses can continue to add up a few weeks or even months after the accident. For example, you may require long-term care or rehabilitation, and you can include this expense in your injury claim.
A common misconception in personal injury cases is insurance amounts are endless. However, this is seldom the case. Insurance companies set caps on payouts, even when their client is the one at fault for the accident. Once you hit the cap, the insurance company isn’t going to continue paying out.
You may still be able to recover most or all of your losses, even with an insurance cap in place. Instead of going through more negotiations, your personal injury case heads to civil court. Here, you can file a claim for the remainder of your damages against the defendant’s assets.
Unfortunately, don’t hold your breath on receiving compensation if you win your case. The defendant may not be able to settle the claim. You can place a lien against the defendant’s future earnings, but this still doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive your money.
Comparative Fault Laws
If your accident occurs in Oklahoma, comparative fault laws apply. So, what is comparative fault? The law means every accident is looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Comparative fault laws can be confusing, but they can also benefit the value of your personal injury case. Basically, comparative fault means blame is assigned to everyone involved in the accident.
Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean you’re automatically to blame for your accident as you may be assigned zero fault or only a percentage of the blame. If the accident is caused by the other driver running a red light, chances are they will be assigned 100% of the blame.
However, if you fail to yield, even though you have the right of way, you may be partially at fault. As long as your percentage of the fault is less than 51%, you can file for compensation, but the percentage of your fault will reduce your compensation.
Availability of the Evidence
Evidence plays a crucial role in determining the value of your personal injury case. This is a reason why you want to save every scrap of paper relating to the accident. Even a receipt for a one-time prescription can be vital in determining the value of your case.
Something you always want to have in a personal injury case is a copy of the accident report. Without the accident report, you may not have a personal injury case. The insurance company can question if the accident occurred and is responsible for your injuries and/or property damage.
Your Ability to Work
Another economic damage you may be able to claim is lost current and potentially your future income. If your injuries are causing you to miss work, you may be able to add lost income to your claim.
Some injuries are so severe the individual is prevented from returning to work. If this applies to your case, you may be able to claim lost future earnings. You will need to provide bank statements, pay stubs, and medical records to support a claim of lost current and future earnings.
Let an Attorney Help with Your Case Valuation
Determining the full extent of your damages after an accident can be a complicated task, encompassing immediate costs along with long-term financial impacts. An attorney specializing in personal injury cases can provide invaluable assistance in this process.
They have the expertise to thoroughly evaluate all aspects of your situation, including medical expenses, lost income, and any potential future costs related to your injury. Relying on an attorney’s skill and experience ensures a comprehensive and accurate calculation of your damages, which is essential for securing fair compensation.