How to Value a Personal Injury Case (Why Some Cases are Worth More Than Others)
One of the most common questions that clients have when pursuing a personal injury case is what the case is going to be worth when all is said and done.
You should be wary of attorneys who are quick to give you an answer to this question because there are many things that need to be reviewed and taken under consideration before a value can be calculated.
It is not as simple as plugging numbers into a settlement calculator. Following is how we determine the potential value of our clients' cases so that you can have a clearer understanding of what your case might be worth.
What are the Basics of a Personal Injury Claim Lawsuit?
Basically, a personal injury claim lawsuit is a type of case brought in Chicago for physical, emotional, sexual, mental, or similar harm sustained due to the wrongful actions of someone else. They can sue a person or entity (even Cook County) for compensation that the personal injuries caused them plus any consequential expenses and losses.
There are a few different categories of personal injury lawsuits and these all relate to the defendant's conduct. If the defendant intended the wrongful conduct that caused the personal injury, the plaintiff can bring an intentional tort personal injury claim.
If the defendant did not intend to commit wrongful conduct but still acted unreasonably for the circumstances, the plaintiff can make a negligence claim for any damages that followed.
Finally, if the defendant's legal breach caused the plaintiff's personal injuries, then the plaintiff can file a negligence per se cause of action for things like pain and suffering. These broad categories of cases give greater meaning to what exactly a personal injury lawsuit is. See 735 ILCS 5/2-1116.
What Makes a Good Personal Injury Case?
Good personal injury cases contain all of the elements needed to bring the underlying cause of action (i.e. negligence, intentional tort, strict liability, etc.).
These elements normally include fault or liability, damages, pain and suffering causation, and recoverability. The absence of any of these elements might eliminate a personal injury case.
We can help clients find attorneys today to discover the value of your claim (economic damages, non economic damages, insurance company claim, insurance companies filings, etc.).
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Factors That Influence a Personal Injury Claim
When we set out to determine the value of your case, these are some of the most important factors that we will consider before giving you a rough estimate.
- Where did the accident or injury occur? This is important because of factors such as court venue and the laws within that jurisdiction. Some areas may be more favorable for injury victims and award higher settlements while other counties may have jurors that are more likely to throw the case out entirely.
- What type of accident occurred? Some types of accidents are more likely to result in large settlements than others. This is not always fair, but it is an unfortunate reality. This is in part due to previous judgements that have set precedent in the past. A case against a truck company or a large manufacturer may produce a greater settlement offer than a typical car accident, for example.
- What type of insurance coverage does the defendant possess? This is really important because it is impossible to collect compensation from someone who is unable to pay. If the person who is at fault only has the state minimum liability coverage and no assets, you will only be able to collect what the person’s insurance covers.
- Does the defendant have any assets? This makes it possible to pursue additional compensation if insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover your economic damages.
- What were your medical costs? Medical costs are what you’ve already paid and what you will pay in the future. It is easier to justify the value of your existing bills than to estimate the cost of bills in the future, even though we have access to professionals who specialize in predicting the total cost of your recovery.
- Were you unable to return to work? If so, we can add the loss of your wages to the damages when calculating the value of your case.
- Did the injury change the quality of your life? Things like disfigurement, permanent injury and the loss of limbs can affect the value of your case. Clients are likely to be awarded more money to compensate for the loss of enjoyment of their lives or drastic changes to their quality of life.
- Were you partially at fault for the incident? If you were partially at fault, the value of your case is typically reduced by your percentage of fault.
You may be able to get the compensation you deserve and maximize the value of your claim from an insurance company, at fault party, insurance companies, or others. Our legal group helps clients find attorneys today especially if the injury occurs at work.
Contact us now and answer a few questions about the car accident, slip and fall, or other event to speak with personal injury attorneys in your area about your medical treatment, loss of consortium, pain and suffering damages, emotional distress, medical bills, non economic damages or lost wages in a free consultation.
What is the Average Personal Injury Settlement or Jury Award?
On average, personal injury cases obtain several thousand dollars. They often range from ten to one hundred thousand dollars. Of course, some cases might get more, and some personal injury cases might get less.
The specific recovery of any particular claim depends upon a number of factors including 1) the victim’s damages 2) the defendant’s culpability and 3) any intervening forces.
What Compensation is Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Plaintiffs can seek compensation in a personal injury lawsuit for all the damage that the defendant’s wrongful conduct caused including compensatory, special, and punitive damages. Normally, these are broken up along economic and non-economic lines.
The former includes tangible costs the incident incurred upon the plaintiff such as hospital bills, ambulance fees, lost income from missed work, and property loss or damage.
The latter includes losses for more intangible damage like disfigurement, suffering, reduced quality of life, and disability. Typically, a judge or jury has more flexibility to assign the value of non-economic damages.
On the other hand, economic damages are more fixed and ascertainable. Consequently, awards for these injuries must closely follow the identifiable loss.
What is the Deadline to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Generally, the law prohibits plaintiffs from bringing claims for personal injuries two years after the date of the accident so that is the deadline to file a case.
In Illinois, If personal injury victims wait longer than two years, they will not be able to seek compensation for their harms and losses from those incidents per 735 ILCS 5/13-202:
Actions for damages for an injury to the person...shall be commenced within two years next after the cause of action accrued.”
To comply with this Illinois law, plaintiffs must serve all defendants with the complaint and summons before this time period elapses. Some exceptions may be made (i.e. if the plaintiff had reasonable grounds to fail to understand he or she had legitimate claims) but in most instances this time period will close two years from the date of the accident which caused the person's personal injuries.
What Do You Need to Prove in Order to Win an Illinois Personal Injury Case?
In order to win an Illinois personal injury case, you must establish the prima facie case elements for the underlying lawsuit. The following elements constitute the most common types of personal injury cases.
They illustrate what a plaintiff must plead and prove in court to win a personal injury lawsuit.
Intentional Tort Cases:
- An intentional act that
- Is wrongful (I.E. trespass, false imprisonment, assault, battery, etc.) and
- Causes damage or injury to the person.
- Negligent conduct (unreasonable for the circumstances) that
- Breached a
- Duty owed to the plaintiff and
- Caused the plaintiff damage or injury.
Negligence Per Se Cases:
- The defendant broke a law and that
- Caused the plaintiff
- Damage or injury.
How Long is the Illinois Personal Injury Claims Process?
Illinois personal injury litigation has three distinct phases and typically lasts between six to eighteen months but may run longer. Each phase presents different opportunities and challenges to plaintiffs seeking recovery for their damages.
Here is a review of the personal injury claims process broken down by these different periods:
- Pre-Lawsuit: This phase runs from the time of the accident to the subsequent filing of a lawsuit. In this phase of the personal injury claims process, the most important objectives are to seek medical and legal attention. The former will ensure your injuries don’t get worse. The latter will ensure your potential claims are preserved and investigated. Then, with your counsel, you can determine if you have a case for your personal injuries (and under what theory) and what you need to do to obtain relief.
- Pre-Trial: The period between the filing of the personal injury lawsuit and commencement of a case trial is critical for a plaintiff. They must interact with the defense counsel to try and resolve the dispute. A successful resolution will save the victim time and money. To do that, the two sides must agree on the value of the plaintiff’s claim, if any. A plaintiff must be able to artfully demonstrate the true loss the incident incurred upon him or her including the complete medical impact.
- Trial: If the personal injury case actually gets to trial, and most of them don’t, personal injury plaintiffs must use law and fact through evidence, testimony, and argument to explain to a jury why Illinois law allows their recovery. The trial will start once the discovery process is concluded. During discovery, both sides exchange information and items relevant to the case. At any point, either party can initiate settlement negotiations and that is preferred as it conserves judicial resources.
Can I Handle My Own Personal Injury Case?
Yes, plaintiffs are legally entitled to file and try their own personal injury cases. But the question really becomes: should they?
Personal injury litigation requires a considerable amount of experience, skill, and resources. Even seasoned attorneys commonly step into traps set by older professionals.
Some studies suggest that claimants with counsel assisting them win more frequently and win at greater rates by wide margins.
For example, one such study claims that plaintiffs with a lawyer beat defendants in personal injury matters almost twice as much as plaintiffs without a lawyer. Also, it reported that their award or settlement was nearly four times larger than the award or settlement of plaintiffs representing themselves.
To read more about that study, click here. Therefore, while anyone can bring their own personal injury case, studies highlight the consistent advantage that a lawyer will offer someone filing such a lawsuit.
We can help clients find attorneys today to fight insurance companies and get the compensation you deserve.
Looking for More Information About a Specific Type of Accident or Malpractice Case for Your Pain and Suffering?
If you have more questions or wish to discuss your particular situation with an attorney, our family of lawyers, nurses and support staff at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is here for you.
We welcome you to email or call our office where we can arrange for a telephone, video or in-person discussion of your particular circumstance. As with all of our legal services, we never charge a legal fee for a consultation.
Time constraints may impact your ability to recover from an at-fault party. If you believe that you have a viable accident case, we urge you to contact our office at (888) 424-5757 to begin the process of assembling the most powerful case for your situation.