I am aware that there are hundreds of websites that provide “personal injury calculators.” In my opinion, they are not very reliable for assessing the value of a personal injury case. These “personal injury calculators,” for the most part, simply provide a tally of your damages and then use a multiplier to determine the total value of your case. This one size fits all approach seldom is accurate. Personal injury cases, like almost everything, need to be evaluated based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses. Generally speaking, there are 7 issues which can affect the value of your personal injury case.
Who was at Fault in the Car Accident?
This may sound like an easy question, but in many instances is more complicated than it appears on the surface. In many instances, the drivers have two very different explanations for the circumstances surrounding the accident. The police investigating the accident may cite one driver for one or more driving offenses. Many people believe that the citing of one driver is the final determinative factor deciding fault in the accident. It is not. Police officers can be wrong or rely upon inaccurate information. In some instances, both drivers are partially to blame for the accident. For instance, you may be 20% at fault for the accident. This does not bar a recovery, but it does reduce any recovery by the same amount.
How Severe Were Your Injuries?
It goes without saying that more severe injuries generally act to raise the value of your personal injury claim. Your personal injury claim will include a claim for your past medical expenses. It my also be necessary to hire an expert to estimate your future medical expenses related to the injuries suffered in the accident. Another consideration is whether you had any preexisting injuries, as they tend to reduce the amount of recovery in personal injury cases.
How Much Insurance Does the At Fault Party Maintain
Most people do not seem to realize that any recovery related to your injuries is likely to be paid by an insurance company and that the insurance company will only pay out what the policy requires. For this reason, many accident victims are not compensated or are compensated inadequately for their injuries. If the at fault party only has $10,000.00 in coverage, then regardless of your injuries your maximum recovery is likely to be capped at $10,000.00. You may have life altering injuries and hundreds of thousands in unpaid medical bills, but your recovery will be limited.
This is why uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage is so important. If you purchased the uninsured motorist coverage, then your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages will be paid up the amount of the policy. Your uninsured motorist policy or UM policy will also kick in if the at-fault driver has insurance but is underinsured. At that point, your UM policy will pay the difference between the amount paid by the at-fault driver and your damages, up to the policy limits.
How do Your Injuries Affect Your Everyday Life?
This is issue is related to the severity of your injuries, but is also distinct because the same injury may affect two individuals very differently. Back injuries seldom have the exact same effects on two different people. The differences can be related to pain thresholds, age or the overall condition of the individual. It is important to document how the injury affects you.
What is Your Income Level?
Lost income is based on your individual earnings, so high earning individuals are going to have greater damages than lower income earners. If the injured party is unable to perform their job then the future anticipated income will be higher. For example, Tracy Morgan was recently involved in an accident and has suffered traumatic injuries. His damages related to lost past and future income will look very different than if a baker at Publix suffered the same injuries. This example provides a very clear example of why the “personal injury calculators” are inaccurate.
How Old Are You?
Your age can affect your case in several different ways. You age will be used to determine how many years you can be expected to live with your injuries and endure the pain and suffering associated with those injuries. It will also be used to estimate anticipated future income and medical bills. Finally, and perhaps a bit unfairly, juries seem to favor the very young and the very old in rendering verdicts.
Who is Your Attorney?
Many law firms operate as “settlement mills,” meaning they usually spend large amounts of money on advertising to bring in cases, but seldom, if ever try cases. These “settlement mills” typically have paralegals handle the case from start to finish in order to save money. They will set unreasonable quotas on the staff to settle cases quickly which leads to inadequate recoveries for many clients. No two cases are exactly alike and each case should be judged and handled on its own merits.
Set up appointments to meet with various attorneys. Your initial consultation should be free. Most reputable attorneys will provide you a 30 minute consultation for free. During that consultation, the attorney should be able to answer basic questions about your case. Keep it mind that at this initial meeting, the attorney likely will not have any accident reports, hospital records, witness statements and other documents that provide information specific to your accident so the questions that the lawyer will be able to answer will be more general in nature. In my opinion, this initial consultation should be used by the client to “interview” the attorney and determine if the “fit is right. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you in the privacy of your own home.
Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707