Philadelphia Injury Lawyer Talks About Placing a Monetary Value on an Injury
They might feel that individuals who have been injured should simply be strong and bear their losses.
After all, their no-fault insurance should cover their medical bills and lost wages.
It is a good bet that these people have never been seriously injured in an accident.
Nor is it likely that anyone in their family has suffered such a fate.
Nevertheless, it is fair to debate the issue of directly translating pain into dollars.
Perhaps some feel that it demeans the value of human suffering to place a financial value on it.
Yet that is the only method our legal system has to redress the injurious acts committed by negligent motorists, shopowners, corporations, etc.
And as long as this method of compensation is available, injured accident victims and their attorneys will seek to receive maximum financial compensation for the injury.
That is human nature.
Still others point to the added costs of doing business they feel that injury lawsuits cause.
They believe that these added costs are passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.
There is some merit to this argument.
I believe it is worth paying these higher prices in exchange for keeping the right to sue for compensation.
Not only can financial compensation help to make the accident victim whole, but the threat of lawsuits keeps companies accountable for their errors.
Consider also that The Bible at Exodus 21:25 authorizes financial compensation for pain inflicted by another.
Pending further changes to our present set of negligence laws, individuals are free to look to the courts for financial compensation for injuries caused by the negligent acts of others.
Given that this system, or some form of it, is likely to remain in effect for many years to come, the questions becomes: How much is an injury case worth? Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure what a case might settle for until the medical treatment is concluded and the doctor's prognosis rendered.
Unless he has been in many accidents and sued many times, the average client has no idea of the amount for which a personal injury case should settle.
The client's fate, for all intents and purposes, is in the hands of the attorney.
If the attorney, for whatever reason, wants to settle the case even though fair value has not been offered, how is the client to know this? There are no easy answers here, which is why it is vital to retain a lawyer you can trust.
I know of no other area of life, with the possible exceptions of going to your doctor or getting your car repaired, where the unsophisticated client has to trust the honesty and good judgment of another.
Lawyers and insurance adjusters evaluate personal injury cases in many ways.
For simple cases, such as neck and back strains and sprains (soft tissue injuries) that heal over time, the key factors will be length of treatment and, perhaps, the amount of the medical bills.
Some adjusters and lawyers just multiply the total of the medical bills by three or four to determine the settlement value.
That is an overly simplistic approach which is used less these days than in the past.
Yet the medical bills still figure into the settlement evaluations in this kind of injury case.
The bills are also considered to a lesser extent in more serious injury cases.
Perhaps the one rule of thumb for these "soft tissue injury" cases is $2,000 for each month of treatment.
Thus, a soft tissue back and neck injury with three months of treatment will probably settle for between $5,000 and $7,000.
There is a limit to this kind of computation.
After perhaps 6 or 7 months of treatment, the insurance company may begin to suspect that the claimant is prolonging the treatment just to drive up the settlement.
It is, of course, totally inexcusable to stay in treatment one visit longer than is necessary to recover from your injuries.
Ruptured discs, bone fractures, and injuries resulting in scarring generally are compensated more generously than are soft tissue injuries.
Insurance companies more often than not suspect that soft tissue injuries are imagined or exaggerated.
Herniated discs, fractures, and scarring cannot be faked, at least not without the assistance of a quack doctor.
The severity of the injury greatly influences the settlement offer.
So will the characteristics of the individual.
For example, a facial scar on an attractive young woman is "worth" far more than an elbow scar on an elderly man.
A permanent injury to a child brings a far larger offer than will a similar injury to an adult.
A herniated disc suffered by a skilled manual laborer has a greater "value" than a herniation sustained by a person with a sedentary job.
A soft tissue injury sustained by a person with a long history of suing for accidents brings a lower offer than the same injury suffered by a first time plaintiff.
The largest jury awards, and therefore the largest settlements, involve severe head injuries, loss of limbs, paralysis, and death.
Even these catastrophic injuries must be carefully documented to achieve maximum settlement value.
It is especially important with catastrophic injuries for the insurance company to realize that your lawyer knows how to prove these kinds of cases.
Claims adjusters are terrified of the huge jury verdicts returned on cases involving severe, permanent injury.
The other factors that influence settlement value include: the reputation of your attorney, the reputation of your doctor, the amount of property damage, the amount of time missed from work, and the willingness of you and your attorney to hold out for top dollar.
These factors are important in all personal injury cases.