If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, one of the first things you likely to consider after you have received medical care is:
Who is going to pay for this?
How much will I get for my injury case?
Despite the fact that the entire body of tort law address how to fairly compensate a person for their injuries related to an accident, there still seems to be a taboo associated with the discussion of money.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our entire law practice is dedicated to representing people seriously injured or killed as a result of the negligence of others. Our sole focus remains to get you the maximum compensation that the law allows.
When attempting to put a dollar figure on cases, there are three important areas that have a substantial impact on how the cases will play out and ultimately what they are worth from a settlement perspective or when presented to a jury.
We will discuss each component in more detail below, but whenever discussing case value it is import to consider:
- Liability and comparative fault
- Case type
The first part of a personal injury case that needs to be addressed is establishing a party is at fault for an incident that resulted in an injury to you. ‘Fault’ or ‘liability’ needs to be established before the issue of damages can be addressed.
Most personal injury and medical malpractice cases use negligence to establish liability in a case. While ‘negligence’ is a legal term, at its most basic form means the person or party failed to act with the degree of ‘reasonable care’ that a similarly situated party would or as the law requires them to and the plaintiff was consequently injured.
The below are considered to be elements of a personal injury case based upon negligence. The plaintiff has the burden of proving each element in order to win his or her case.
- Duty. The defendant (party allegedly responsible for incident) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Example: In a car accident case, drivers have a duty to keep a lookout and avoid collisions with other vehicles.
- Breach. The defendant breached a legal duty he or she owed to the plaintiff. Example: In a case involving a rear-end car accident, the defendant breached his or her duty when they crashed into the rear of plaintiff’s vehicle.
- Causation. The defendant’s actions or failure to act resulted in injury to the plaintiff. Example: In the rear-end car accident, a plaintiff injuring his back in the impact.
- Damages. The plaintiff must have some form of damages as a result of the alleged incident. Example: Where the plaintiff injured his back in the rear-end crash, damages would include medical care and repairs to his vehicle.
In Illinois, a plaintiff’s own negligence will reduce the amount they are entitled to recover by according to their fault. The concept is referred to as ‘comparative fault’ (see 735 ILCS 5/2-1116).
A plaintiff may recover compensation for their injuries as long as they are less than 50% responsible for an incident. If they are more than 50% at fault, Illinois law would bar them from recovering any compensation for their injuries.
Applying the doctrine of comparative fault to a personal injury case reduces the value of the case by the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility for causing an incident. In a personal injury case where the plaintiff has $100,000 in damages and was deemed to be 30% at fault for the incident, he would recover $70,000.
Consequently, it is important to establish liability in personal injury cases from the onset of a case when information is readily accessible. You can count on Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to secure the necessary evidence relating to your case, so that you can focus your energy on your medical care.Proving Damages in Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Cases
In the field of personal injury and medical malpractice, Illinois law allows an individual injured in an accident or family of a deceased to pursue a claim or lawsuit against the responsible party to recover financial compensation. Illinois law recognizes both economic and non-economic damages in injury law cases.
Economic damages refer to actual financial losses an individual has incurred as a result of their injuries. Examples of economic damages frequently sought in personal injury matters include:
- Medical Expenses: Ambulance bills, hospital bills, physician bills, surgical bills, physical therapy bills, prescription medications.
- Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working for a short or long-term period, you may recover the value of your lost wages.
- Damaged Property: If you your personal property or automobile is damaged in an accident, you are entitled to recover the repair or the replacement cost of the item.
Some of the most substantial damages a person may face after an accident go beyond the tangible losses incurred as a consequence of the incident. Referred to as ‘non-economic’ damages, these are damages that are very personal in nature and relate to how the physical injury impacts the individual.
Non-economic damages can surpass the value of economic losses. Illinois Courts have rejected the concept of ‘caps’ or limits on non-economic damages in personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain & Suffering: The physical and emotional pain related to a physical injury can be recovered.
Example: In a motorcycle crash involving a fractured leg that required surgery, the injured motorcyclist could recover compensation associated with the pain associated with the fracture as well as the pain associated with the surgery and recovery.
- Disability: When a physical injury prevents a person from participating in the activities that he or she enjoyed prior to their injury, they can recover compensation for them.
Example: If a broken leg from a motorcycle crash prohibits the individual from running or other activities they enjoyed prior to the accident, they would be entitled to recover compensation for their loss.
- Loss of Consortium: This applies to a situation where a family member is seriously injured or killed in an accident; the spouse can recover compensation for their companionship and support.
Assuming liability is not an issue, it may be tempting to look at the damages in each case and assign a value to it. To the uninitiated, such an approach to valuing cases would make sense. In reality the mechanism of injury and perhaps most importantly, the parties involved tend to have a meaningful impact on the eventual value of the case.
For example, in motor vehicle accident cases involving vehicles owned by individuals, the amount of insurance coverage is a huge factor in the eventual outcome of a case. If there is limited insurance coverage, no matter how substantial the injuries are the case will have a limited case value. You could theoretically receive a substantial judgment, but you are unlikely to collect anything beyond the value of the underlying insurance policy if the individual does not have sizeable assets.
On the other hand, if a corporation or business owns the vehicle, there likely is more insurance coverage and the focus of the case can move to address how to maximize the damages for the individual.
Other factors that may influence the value of your case:
- The age of the individual injured or killed
- The amount of medical expenses related to past and future care
- Amount of lost wages incurred or will likely incur in the future
- The venue where the lawsuit can be filed
- The insurance companies involved
- Amount of insurance coverage available
- The status of the defendant (party sued), individual v. corporation
Just as no one can predict the future, no attorney can say that he or she can get you a specific amount of money for your case during an initial meeting. There just are too many variables which will play out between the time of the actual incident and when the case is ready to be resolved.
Many attorneys try to use a formula to assist in the valuation of case where a number to calculate the value of the case multiplies the economic damages. While a formulaic approach may work for some situations where the damages are minor in nature, this approach does not work in serious injury cases.
Our law firm takes a individualized approach when it comes to evaluating the value of each case and work to secure the most favorable outcome for each client. We assess each element of the case in order to ensure you recover the maximum compensation for your case given the dynamics of your case.Get a Flavor For What Your Injury Case is Realistically Worth
Our attorneys have compiled data from reported settlements and jury verdicts from across Illinois and the entire country to give you an idea of how your case may be valued. We urge you to look at these case valuations in a general sense and then discuss your particular situation with a lawyer who can advise you regarding your legal rights in your particularly situation.
We have separated out Illinois cases in some categories to help give you an idea of how cases may be evaluated. In order circumstances, there is no distinction between cases in Illinois and those on a national level, simply because the number of reported settlements and verdicts is so limited.
- Car Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Nursing Home Negligence
- Medical Malpractice
- Work Related Accidents
- Cook County
- Will County
- Lake County
- DuPage County
- Kane County
- Campaign County
- Madison County
- St. Clair County
Now that you have had an opportunity to review how some types of cases are evaluated, perhaps you are ready to move forward with yours? Perhaps you have questions? Regardless of what your situation is, we invite you to contact our law office for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.