How Much is Your Case Worth?
If you are considering filing a lawsuit to pursue compensation for an injury, you are probably wondering how much your claim is worth. Determining the value of a case requires evaluation of many different factors, and is not an exact science. For this reason, it is always best to contact a lawyer for an estimate of the value of your particular case.
Among the most common monetary damages pursued in a lawsuit are those for medical expenses. The more serious the injury, and the more expensive the medical care required to treat it, the more the victim is entitled to recover. Injuries that are permanent result in higher levels of compensation than those that are temporary, such as a bruise or sprain. In addition to medical expenses already incurred, an injured person may also be able to claim compensation for anticipated medical expenses, such as physical therapy or ongoing treatment for the injuries sustained.
Another category of monetary damages is property damage. In general, you are entitled to claim the amount that would be required to restore your property to its pre-injury condition. For example, if your car is 15 years old and is not repairable following the accident, you are entitled for compensation to purchase a similar car of the same age, not a brand new model.
If you have had to take time off work in order to recover, you may be entitled to claim compensation for lost income. Any missed work due to the needed medical treatment for the injuries sustained is generally recoverable. However, people who are paid a salary that is not decreased for time needed to recuperate are not usually entitled to recover lost wages. If the injuries are severe enough to prevent the person from being able to work in the future, the lost earning ability through the age of retirement may be considered a recoverable financial damage.
In addition to recovering the actual financial damages caused by your personal injury, you may also be entitled to claim certain other damages. Frequently called “pain and suffering damages,” this category includes mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, and other types of compensation intended as compensation for the intangible effects associated with being injured. Such damages are generally proven by showing that the injuries have prevented the victim from engaging in normal life activities such as household chores and social activities. There is no formula for determining the amount of these types of damages that a jury is likely to award.
Another form of damages, known as punitive damages, may be awarded in order to punish the defendant, if the jury finds the defendant guilty of gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Often, the other party will make a settlement offer that is lower than the full value of the case. In some situations, it may be in your best interest to accept this amount, in order to provide for immediate needs such as current medical bills. In other cases, it is better to hire an experienced attorney, where you may receive an award that is higher than the settlement offer.
Calculating the Value of Your Case
The circumstances of your particular case will determine its potential value. Calculating a reasonable value of recoverable damages such as future medical expenses can be difficult, and often requires expert testimony. Determining the value of a claim is a complicated manner. Often, plaintiffs receive more for their case when working with a skilled attorney who has worked on similar cases because they can ensure that you include all of the applicable types of damages when filing your suit, and will work to provide evidence that supports the level of compensation you are seeking.