It’s common for people who have been injured in accidents to call us and ask, “What is my personal injury claim worth?” When this question is asked at the beginning of a case, it is nearly impossible for a lawyer to provide an answer. Why? The value of a claim depends on several factors, and those factors vary from case to case. To assess the worth of your personal injury claim and provide a good idea of what a reasonable settlement should look like, your attorney will need to analyze the details of your case.
What Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
There are three primary issues in every case that an attorney must assess to evaluate a claim’s worth: liability, damages, and the defendant’s ability to pay. An attorney with substantial experience is typically better able to evaluate these factors’ value.
Personal injury lawyers begin their evaluation by determining liability. This is important in both Arkansas and Oklahoma because both states have modified comparative negligence laws. Under Ark. Code Ann. § 16-64-122, people who are injured in accidents in Arkansas will only be able to recover compensation if they have less fault than the defendant for the accident’s cause. This means that if you are partly to blame, you will only be able to recover damages if your portion of the fault is less than 50 percent. Similarly, under Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 23, §23-13, injured people will only be allowed to recover compensation if they are less than 50 percent at fault for their accidents.
Your attorney will evaluate what both you and the other person (or other parties) did leading up to the accident. Looking at the details of the accident will help your attorney determine what types of damages are appropriate. For example, punitive damages might be available to you if you were injured by a drunk driver. Or if the actions of the defendant were of an egregious nature, the potential for punitive damages may make the claim more valuable. Your lawyer will also evaluate whether it will be difficult to prove liability or expensive to build a claim.
Recoverable damages are the second factor your lawyer will consider. These will depend on the scope of your injuries, their severity, and your economic and noneconomic losses. Your economic losses might include the following:
- Your past medical costs related to your accident
- The future anticipated medical costs that you will have to pay
- Your past income losses
- Your future reduced capacity to earn an income
- Your property losses
Your noneconomic losses might include the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Your reduced ability to enjoy your life
- Emotional trauma
Figuring out your future anticipated medical costs and your reduced capacity to earn an income will likely require the help of medical and financial experts.
Additionally, noneconomic losses are difficult to value because the amount a jury might award will vary. For example, pain and suffering awards vary significantly and depend on the medical evidence presented. For example, if you were permanently paralyzed in an accident, a jury is likely to find that your pain and suffering is much greater than if you suffered a soft tissue injury (such as whiplash).
Determining the Ability to Pay
It is an unfortunate fact that some at-fault parties clearly hold liability but simply do not have adequate insurance coverage to pay. It is difficult to recover damages from defendants who do not have adequate insurance. Even if you succeed in a trial against someone who does not have insurance, the defendant could potentially file for bankruptcy protection, which would make your judgment uncollectable.
Other Relevant Factors
Other factors that can influence a claim’s worth include how well a jury relates to the case and whether or not the jurors sympathize with the defendant/plaintiff. The performance of the witnesses can also be influential. Finally, the experience and skills of the lawyers involved will also have a great impact on the outcome of the case.
Are you wondering, “What is my personal injury claim worth?” Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today so that one of our attorneys can meet with you, learn the details of your case, and explain how the process will work. After an investigation, we may provide you with a ballpark range of values that you might expect to receive in a settlement or verdict. Schedule a consultation by calling us at 479-783-8000 or sending us a message online.