The Myth of the “Personal Injury Settlement Calculator”
February 9, 2012
When it comes to personal injury law, one of the most commonly searched
phrases is, “personal injury settlement calculator.” Capitalizing
on the public’s notion that there must be some magic formula for determining
the value of your personal injury case, many websites try to lure you
in by using a simple formula for determining the value of your case. One
website goes so far as to allow you to input your medical bills, lost
wages, future medical bills, and future lost wages and then it will give
you a settlement figure based upon that number.
For example, if you have $5,000.00 in medical bills and $2,000.00 in lost
wages, then you can determine a multiplier such as 3 which will state
that your settlement should be $21,000.00. Change the multiplier to 4
and you get a $28,000.00 settlement – change it to 2 and you get a $14,000.00
settlement figure. So the value of your personal injury case is determined
by a multipler and your medical bills. But how is that multiplier determined?
By now you obviously get the picture, there is no such thing as a personal
injury settlement calculator.
Much like a unicorn, as much as you may want to believe that it is out
there, it simply does not exist. The reality is that the value of your
personal injury case is based upon a variety of factors and ultimately
the true value of your case is what 12 impartial jurors determine after
hearing all of the facts and evidence of your particular case. With that
said, a majority of personal injury cases settle before a lawsuit is ever
filed or the case is ever tried. So how does an Injury Lawyer determine
the value of your case? Below is a list of the major considerations that
factor in to determining the value of your personal injury claim.
Liability/Behavior of the Other Party
When we are talking about liability we are essentially talking about who
is at fault, or what is the behavior that caused the injury? Are there
aggravating factors regarding the behavior that would shock and outrage
a person? Was the behavior intentional, negligent, grossly negligent or
reckless? A person could be seriously injured, but the liability may be
extremely difficult to prove, so even though one would think that the
claim is worth a significant amount of money, the doubtful liability would
decrease the settlement value.
The reverse is also true, a person could be slightly injured, but the behavior
of the offending party so egregious that the value of the claim is worth
more than one would typically expect. We recently resolved a claim for
a police officer that was hit from behind by a drunk driver. The police
officer suffered modest injuries, but a thorough investigation into the
background of the drunk driver revealed that he had an extensive driving
history. Based upon the other driver’s behavior we were able to settle
this modest injury claim for $50,000.00. Thus, the liability is an important
factor in determining the value of your personal injury claim.
Determining the extent of your injuries and the amount of your medical
treatment may seem simple, but it takes an experienced Atlanta Personal
Injury Lawyer to track your treatment and make sure you are properly diagnosed.
In some cases, the insurance company will argue that your injuries are
not related to the incident or that you had a prior existing condition.
We work with your medical professionals to make sure that your injuries
are clearly documented and that those injuries that are related to the
incident are properly noted. Furthermore, in many personal injury cases
the victim may not have health insurance and will not know where to turn
for proper medical treatment. A good injury attorney will know how to
make sure that you receive the treatment you need, that your injuries
are properly diagnosed, and more importantly properly treated.
For example, mild traumatic brain injuries often go undiagnosed in
car wrecks. Mild traumatic brain injuries are serious, but subtle injuries. Often
the diagnosis is missed because the injured party does not understand
why they are experiencing certain symptoms. In our handling of these cases,
we have been able to see early on the symptoms and make sure that our
clients are seeing the proper medical professionals to determine this
type of injury. This same analysis holds true for any type of injury.
An experienced lawyer will know what to look for and make sure that this
is brought to your attention.
Location of the Accident/Defendant
The location where your personal injury claim can or will be filed is extremely
important in determining the value in your case. Venue, or the location
of where your case will be tried, can mean the difference of thousands
of dollars. In Georgia, the location of your trial is typically determined
by the county of residence of the offending party. However, there may
be opportunities to choose the venue depending on the facts and circumstances
of your case. Knowing how to choose the best venue can dramatically increase
the value of your claim. Conversely, the choice of the wrong venue can
have devastating consequences. A good personal injury lawyer will take
this into consideration and let you know what you can expect from a jury
in the venue where your case will be tried.
The amount of money available to pay for your Personal Injury Claim
Typically when we are talking about the amount of money available for your
claim, we are talking about insurance coverage. The hard reality of some
personal injury cases is that there may not be enough money to cover your
claim. An experienced Atlanta Injury Lawyer will make sure to investigate
and assemble all sources of possible insurance coverage to make sure that
your claim is fully paid.
Who has to be paid out of your Personal Injury Settlement
While this is not directly related to the value of your personal injury
claim, it is related to the amount of money that you will receive from
your case. The more people that have to be paid out of the proceeds of
your personal injury settlement means less money for you. It is becoming
far more common that health insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, and
other lien holders are asserting that they have a right to be paid out
of your personal injury settlement proceeds. We have extensive experience
in negotiating with these entities and have had great success in ensuring
that they do not overreach when asserting a claim for your money. We have
successfully defeated these types of claims and in many instances effectively
negotiated steep reductions.
The above are just some of the more important factors that go into determining
the value of your Personal Injury Case. Please remember that each case
is different and presents unique circumstances that should be evaluated.
We encourage you to
call us and speak with an experienced Atlanta Accident Attorney to discuss the
specifics of your claim.