How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
One of the first questions I am asked by my clients is “what is my personal injury case worth?” Although it is a valid question to ask, it’s not one that allows for a straightforward answer.
The short answer? Every case is unique. It is impossible to tell someone how much they should expect to recover without a full case analysis.
There is no way I could, or should, attempt to answer this question without all of the accident information. Have you been treated? How much are your medical bills? Have experienced a loss in wages? There are so many factors at play here, too many factors to give you a number and send you on your way.
An accurate evaluation of what your case is worth requires an in-depth evaluation of a lot of information. That said, given my extensive experience as a Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, I can perform an accurate valuation of a case pretty quickly. All we’ll need is the following information:
- When did the accident occur?
- Was the accident your fault, and did you receive any citations?
- Where did the accident occur?
- What injuries were sustained?
- Are any of your injuries pre-existing?
- Have you received medical care? If so, how often?
- What are your current and projected medical bills?
- Have you experienced a decrease in income due to the injury?
- Can you continue to work?
- What restrictions on your everyday activities have you experienced?
- How has your life changed?
- Have your spouse/children suffered?
Even with that information, there are a few other categories I’d need to thoroughly evaluate prior to providing value.
Case Value Misconception
Before we begin, I’ll need to disprove one common myth regarding the valuation process of injury cases. I often hear my clients say that they have heard their case is worth three times the hard economic damages (medical bills, lost wages, etc…)
[Sigh] There is no such thing as a magical formula that allows you to instantly determine the value of a case. You may find some run-of-the-mill “instant personal injury settlement calculator” online, but I can assure you that the valuation you’ll get from the calculator will be far from what your settlement award will actually be. The value of your case is based on a very specific evaluation; an evaluation of the categories I am about to address:
Important Factors For Calculating A Case Value:
Medical bills: Both past and present. This includes medical bills incurred up to the time case settles (past medical bills) and the cost of those reasonably projected after settlement (and for the remainder of the injured’s life) – (future medical bills).
Lost Wages: Both past and present. This includes lost wages incurred up to the time of settlement (past lost wages) and the anticipated loss in wages (future lost wages). Future lost wages can be figured by anticipated surgeries and ongoing treatment for the duration of the injury.
Pain and suffering: incurred through the settlement date (past pain and suffering) and pain and suffering that the injured party is expected to continue after the settlement, for the duration of his or her life -(future pain and suffering).
Loss of Consortium: This is applicable for the injured parties spouse (presuming they are married), the spouse is entitled to loss of consortium incurred through the settlement date, and through the duration of the injured’s life – (Past and future loss of consortium.)
Personal Injury Settlement Breakdown:
Your case is worth both your economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can be quantified, using a roller amount, examples of econ damages are medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, your property damage to your car is also part of your economic damages but for purposes of settlement this is usually calculated separately and attorneys do not collect a portion of fees of your property damage.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because there is no set method of calculating non-economic damages. Contrary to popular belief non-economic damages such as pain and suffering is not simply a multiplier of your medical bills. We have had many clients ask us whether or not their pain and suffering is simply three times their medical bills which it is not. In fact, if you were to ask a jury to assign the dollar amount of pain and suffering as a multiplier of medical bills you would run the risk of creating a mistrial, and the judge overseeing the case would be displeased. So, pain and suffering are actually calculated by the amount of suffering that the plaintiff endured for a specific period of time. The higher the pain the higher the dollar amount and the longer the suffering, the more money would be at stake.
You add your economic and non-economic damages and reduce your award by any comparative fault. Comparative fault is the reduction of a jury award by the percentage of fault the plaintiff played in the accident. sometimes that figure is zero sometimes that figure is up to fifty percent. If it is more than fifty percent the plaintiff is entitled to nothing. This is known as Nevada’s Comparative Fault law.
How Do You Calculate Your Net?
Your net is what you’re going to get in your pocket after paying attorney’s fees and costs. In Nevada, it is standard for attorneys to collect 33.333 percent, or one third, of the gross settlement amount. However, if your attorney has to file a lawsuit, that number goes up to 40 percent.
What About Case Costs?
Costs are the money that your attorney has spent on your case. These are separate from fees and provide no real benefit to your attorney, as this is the amount they have spent on your case so the costs simply make your attorney even on what he or she has spent. Typical costs include filing fees, costs of medical records, court reporter fees, expert report fees, and the cost to have both laypersons and experts testify at trial. Costs can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the case and the number of experts utilized during the trial process. Experts can be quite expensive. It is not at all uncommon for one medical expert to charge 30 thousand dollars to testify and provide a report.
Paying Medical Bills
You also have to pay your medical bills if they were performed under an attorney’s lien or if the healthcare providers happened to file a lien on your case. Hospitals are entitled to file liens on your person in case if they weren’t paid by health insurance. Your health insurance company is also entitled to a lien but they don’t always do so. Medicare and medicare are guaranteed repayment of what they paid out for your case. This will be deducted from your portion of the gross settlement amount as the medical bills was a benefit to you and not your attorney. For this reason, it is critical that you keep all medical bills related to your accident.
Calculating Lost Wages
Unlike medical care, it is fairly easy to determine what an individual has lost in terms of salary after being hurt. If he or she misses a few weeks of work unpaid, those weeks need to be recovered in the settlement.
However, you must also consider future lost wages. For instance, you may be back to work after a few weeks off and earning the same salary; conversely, if your job requires heavy lifting or other forms of physical activity that you can no longer perform, there is a very real risk of loss of future earnings.
Another example of this would be the situation where you are projected to receive ongoing treatment. This future treatment may cause additional days of lost wages.
Related: Don’t Settle Your Case Early
A Sample Breakdown Of A Case
For this example, we will pretend that a jury awarded a plaintiff $250,000 after rending a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The attorney’s fees for the award would be calculated at 40 percent due to the fact that a lawsuit was filed. The attorney’s fees would therefore be $100,000. F0r this hypothetical, medicare paid $10,000 for the medical treatment and your attorney paid $10,000 for medical experts to testify at trial. Therefore, your net would be $120,000.
The factors outlined above are largely calculated by the severity of the injury sustained due to negligence. The severity of the injury is gathered by medical diagnosis, treatment received, and the current and projected cost of medical care.
If You Are Still Wondering, “What Is My Personal Injury Case Worth?”
As you can see, determining what a case is worth is not simple. As an experienced attorney, I’ve learned how to quickly and efficiently calculate an estimated valuation of any given claim. An exact valuation; however, will take a bit more time.
If you’ve been injured in Las Vegas, NV, and you’re curious as to “what is my personal injury case worth?” give me a call today. I’ll walk you through the process and provide you with as much information as possible. Even if you already have an attorney, please contact the attorneys at The Injury Firm to discuss your case we may be able to take over and get you more money than you would with your current attorney. You can reach me directly at (702) 800-0988.