What’s My Car Accident Case Worth?
We receive plenty of calls from clients asking the same question after being involved in a car accident – what is my case worth?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is rather complicated. We always advise all potential clients to be sceptical of any attorney that attempts to provide a definitive answer to this inquiry.
The simple fact is no one knows what a case is worth until both the investigation of the claim and the client’s treatment have both been completed. This is one of the reasons why it is important to make sure you have the right representation from the start of your injury claim.
Below we identified some of the major factors associated with determining the value of an injury claim. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list.
California requires every individual to maintain a car insurance policy. The minimal insurance policy required in California is $15,000. When involved in a crash, we go after the insurance policy. Insurance policies can range from the minimum of $15,000 all the way to the millions. Determining the insurance policy is an important step to your case. The reason being is that most individuals do not have personal assets beyond the insurance policy to go after. Generally, we will try to exhaust every dollar of the insurance policy.
Severity of Injury
An injury claim is made to compensate individuals for their damages. This includes economic damages (e.g. medical expenses, loss of earnings, etc.) and also non-economic damages (e.g. pain and suffering, impact of injuries on a person’s life, etc.) We send our clients to the top medical providers in the state to ensure they receive the proper medical treatment to fully recover from their injuries, and because these providers keep meticulous notes that clearly communicate necessary treatment and future care plans. It is important for medical records to accurately reflect an injured person’s complaints. When medical providers fail to properly memorialize this important information it can be very detrimental to a client’s claim.
Another major component when considering the value of your case is the amount, the type, and cost of treatment needed. Medical procedures such as surgeries and injections are much more costly and will dramatically increase the value of a claim. As discussed above, an injury claim gives you the right to collect economic damages, which includes medical costs.
Whether Future Care Is Needed
If future medical care and treatment is needed, it will add value to your case. The law requires that a party make you whole. If you require additional treatment, the insurance carrier must compensate you for these anticipated costs and procedures. This cannot be evaluated until the conclusion of a case when final recommendations are made. In some situations, an individual will reach max recovery, meaning that no more future care is needed.
Whether The Injury Is Chronic
If the injury will last for several years, or even a lifetime following the crash, the carrier will be responsible to compensate you for this amount. This is another reason why case value is unknown until treatment and investigation are finalized.
Loss Of Income
A carrier must compensate you for all the wages you lose as a result of the injury, as well potential future earnings lost. If you had to miss work to seek treatment or were unable to work because of an injury, the law provides that you must be compensated for this loss. It is important to keep records of all days missed and that may be missed in order to seek treatment.
Extent Of Damage To Your Vehicle
Insurance companies will also look at the extent of the damage to your vehicle to analyze case value. If a case has relatively low property damage like a fender bender, the value placed on the case by the insurance carrier will generally be lower. Alternatively, if a car has been totaled or has extensive damage, the offers presented are typically higher. We understand that there is not always a relationship between property damage and injuries sustained; however, this is a metric often used by the insurance company to assign value to a claim.
Whether Your Injury Caused Scarring Or Permanent Disability
In some instances, an injury claim can result in scarring or permanent disfigurement. For example, in a dog bite matter, the scar can last a lifetime. If this happens, the value of your case will be significantly more since you must be compensated for a permanent scar, which would not have existed “but for” the incident.
Consistency In Treatment
One of the main tools used by Insurance Companies to devalue and diminish your claim is any gaps in treatment. Our providers lay out a comprehensive treatment plan right away. It is vital that the treatment plan be adhered to so that you can recover fully, and that the insurance companies cannot use any inconsistencies with treatment against you.
It is important to gather as much information as possible regarding the effect of your injury on your life. Not all injuries are the same, and not all injuries affect everyone equally. It is important you are represented by counsel who understands the nuances of each respective injury and how these affect YOU on a personal level.
Do not play games with your future. Make sure you are properly represented from the commencement of your action.