One of the most asked questions is how much is my case worth? Despite what you may read on the internet the value of your case depends on many things. It is just not about how bad your injury is or that your friend, neighbor of family member got “X’ amount of money for the same injury.
The most important things that affect the value of your case are (1) the type of injury you suffered (2) the amount of insurance coverage available (3) where the accident happened and (4) who was at fault.
TYPE OF INJURY
Lawyers and insurance companies look at the following factors to determine the value of a personal injury claim
1. The amount of past and future medical bills
2. The amount of lost wages in the past and the amount of loss of earning capacity in the future.
3. The amount of time and degree of pain and physical impairments caused by the injury
4. Whether there is any permanent scarring from the injury
5. The type, degree and length of emotional anguish that stems from the physical injury.
6. How the injury affects day-to-day living
7. The type of injury and the area of the body injured
8. The age of the injured person
9. Whether the injured person will be liked by a jury
AMOUNT OF INSURANCE
In Texas, the law requires that all drivers carry at least $30,000 in liability coverage. This insurance coverage will pay claims of the injured person against the at-fault driver. Some people carry more than $30,000 in liability insurance but there are a lot of people that pick just the minimum insurance coverage available. The simple reason is that it’s the cheapest.
The amount of insurance the “at fault” driver has plays a large role in the value of a personal injury claim regardless of the type of injury involved. Here’s how it work. Driver A runs into the back of Driver B. Driver A is clearly at fault. Driver B ends up with a very serious brain injury. Their medical bills are $500,000 alone. Driver B will never work again. Driver A only carried $30,000 in liability insurance. Under this situation, the most Driver A’s insurance company would have to pay for driver’s B’s injuries is $30,000. Fair? Absolutely not. Legal? Absolutely yes.
Now Driver B could sue Driver A for the remainder of their damages but Driver A is not rich so even if Driver B wins the case there is nothing to collect from Driver A.
UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST INSURANCE
In the insurance business this type of insurance coverage is known as UM/UIM. You can get this type of car insurance and I urge everyone to do so. Get at least $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage. This insurance protects you in the event you are injured by an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver. Say you are hit by a driver who only has $30,000 in insurance but your damages are$130,000. If you have $100, 000 in UM/UIM insurance you could make a claim against the other driver’s insurance for the first $30,000 then make a claim against your own insurance for the remaining $100,000.
WHERE THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED
Where the accident happened can have a large impact on the value of a case. Local communities around Texas value the price of someone else’s pain & suffering, mental anguish and physical impairments differently. If you get hurt in Beaumont, McAllen, Harligen, or Laredo chances are the value of your case will be significantly more than if you were hurt in Houston. The reason is that juries in those communities have consistently awarded higher amounts for a similar injury than other areas in Texas. Some counties are far more conservative in personal injury awards than Houston, Dallas or San Antonio.
BUT MY AUNT GOT MORE MONEY AND SHE HAD THE SAME TYPE OF INJURY
Every case is different. They have different facts, different insurance policies available and happen in different venues across the state. All of those things impact the ultimate value of a claim. A back injury happening in Hidalgo County caused by a drunk semi-truck driver working for Exxon is probably going to be worth more than the same back injury happening in Smith County caused by nice little old lady with only $30,000 in liability coverage.
WHO WAS AT FAULT
The value of a personal injury claim also depends on whether the injured person contributed to the injury through their own negligence. If so, the amount of damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributed to the injured person. For example, if the jury finds the Defendant 60% negligent and the injured person 40% negligent and awards $100,000 in damages, the injured person only get $60,000. If the injured person is found to be 51% or more at fault they usually lose the case.