Factors in assessing an injury case
Clients sometimes ask what the value of their injury case may be and what factors go into determining the value. While there is no secret formula for how lawyers or insurance companies assess the value of a particular accident case, there are many factors that need to be considered by both sides. Here is a listing of many of those factors;
1. How the accident happened affects liability and certainly is a major factor to be considered. In Wisconsin, where there is comparative negligence, you cannot be more than 51% at fault or you cannot recover for your accident claim. If you are assessed any percentage of negligence for how the accident happened, the damage aspect of your case is reduced by the percentage of fault you are assessed. If you have $100,000 in damages and are 50% at fault, you can only recover $50,000 under Wisconsin law, using that example.
2. How much damage was there to both cars; the less damage, the more the insurance company may argue that you couldn’t have been hurt. The more severe damage or if the cars are totaled, the more likely the insurance company will accept the fact that the accident was severe enough to have caused you to have been seriously injured.
3. Whether you told anyone at the accident scene you were hurt. The police routinely ask this question and if you tell the officer know and it gets checked that way on the accident report, you may find yourself having a fight with the insurance company who is going to doubt your later claims of being injured.
4. Whether after being asked if you were hurt, if you refused or accepted an emergency vehicle to take you to the hospital. The insurance company will have less of a time arguing you weren’t hurt if you were conveyed to the hospital as opposed to refusing to be taken to the hospital and simply going home.
5. Whether you missed any time from work following the accident. If you work following the accident and claim you were injured, the insurance company may have a very difficult time believing the extent of your injuries, if you were well enough to go to work each day. This is particularly of concern, if you went against medical advice where you were instructed to stay home and not work.
6. How soon after the accident you followed up with medical care. If you go to the hospital on the day of the accident and immediately follow up with medical care to treat your injuries, the insurance company shouldn’t have a hard time with accepting your injury. However, if you delay getting treatment by weeks or even months, you will find the insurance company doubting you were injured at all and either offer nothing for your injury, or a very small amount of money.
7. How often did you go to the doctor or for treatment. If you go to the doctor once or twice, the insurance company is going to think your injury is trivial. If you go to the doctor or for physical therapy several times a week and follow the doctor’s advice, the insurance company will take your injury case much more seriously.
8. Similarly, to point number 7, is not just the number of visits to the doctor or to physical therapy, but how long you are under the doctor’s care. If you are under the doctor’s care for several weeks and discharged, one can only surmise you sustained a very minor injury in the accident. If on the other hand, you were under the doctor’s care and received repeated medical care and treatment for months or even years, in some cases, it translates into your having a very serious injury, particularly if the doctor writes a report and documents to the insurance company why the course of treatment was medically necessitated.
9. Whether or not you sustained a permanent injury in the accident. If you make a complete recovery from the injuries, which only one can only hope for in every accident case, that will have less of a financial impact on the case then if one sustains a permanent injury, one that the client has to live with the rest of the life. The treating doctor usually documents the nature of the permanent injury and the extent that it will affect you. This can add a considerable overall value monetarily to the injury case.
10. What are the overall size of your medical and hospital bills. If you went to the doctor a few times and have a $500 doctor’s bill, the case is probably considered a very small one and the insurance company may offer to pay for your medical bills and nothing more. If on the other hand, you needed extensive medical care and treatment, had to be hospitalized, or needed surgery, cases where medical bills get into the $50,000 or even $200,000 or more range, can add considerable extra compensation and value to the injury case.
While this list it not intended to be all inclusive, these factors are pivotal in both your personal injury lawyer as well as the insurance company deciding what the value of your case is.
For more information about this article, contact Karp & Iancu.