Matthew B. Troutman
How to know the value of my personal injury claim?
I have represented thousands of poeple injured in car accidents over 34 years of practice and inevitably these clients want to know the value of their claim. If they ask this question at the beginning of the claim prior to concluding their medical treatment, I typically will tell them that it is impossible to make a reasonable guess at the value of the claim before they complete their treatment. If I am pressed further, I will give them an estimate of the value of their claim as it stands today.
The factors that determine the value of a personal injury claim include the following: the severity of the property damage, the nature of the injuries, the length of treatment, the duration of the symptoms associated with the injury, the necessity of surgical intervention, the restriction of mobility and lifestyle, the amount of medical expenses, the likeability and believability of the client, the existence of future medical expenses, the degree of disability, the type of medical treatment, amount of lost income, amount of impairment to future earning capacity and etc.
Like the purchase of a house, the value of the personal injury claim is based upon what someone (insurance company) is willing to pay and what someone (injured motor vehicle accident victim) is willing to accept. If you list your house for a price that no one is willing to pay, it will sit until you lower the price to a level that someone is willing to pay. The same can be said for the settlement of the personal injury claim.
Sometimes, when client's receive a final offer from an insurance company, they will say that they know someone that received a lot more for a less convincing case. It is likely that they do not have all of the facts to compare apples to apples and then sometimes it may be that two different insurance companies simply value the claims differently. For instance, I have three cases involvong fractures to the lumbar spine and on two of them an insurance company paid $100,000.00 and on the third claim, another insurance company only offered $60,000.00. What is the difference? The perspective of the insurance company. Just like somone who looks at your house may believe your house is worth $100,000.00 and the next person believes it is only worth $60,000.00.
Another reason that you may receive an offer lower than the true value of your claim is that the insurance company is betting on the fact that you do not want to file a lawsuit to resolve your claim and they deliberately offer an amount lower than the true value because they want to see if you will accept that lower amount. It is their job to save the insurance company and their stockholders money by paying as little as they can on claims. This corporate philosophy is why you need to hire an accident lawyer who is willing to file a lawsuit and try your case if necessary.
At the end of the day, there is no formula that determines the value of a personal injury claim like the selling of a house. It is an amount negotiated between two parties. One who is trying to pay as little as possible and the other who wants to be paid as much as possible.