When you have been injured, you turn to your lawyer to help you recover the losses you sustained through the wrongful actions of a negligent party. The compensation amount you seek to cover those losses is known as the worth, or value, of your case. Determining case value has no fixed and unchangeable formula, and therefore varies greatly from case to individual case.
The worth of a case is based upon the amount of damage sustained by the injured party. This may seem uncomplicated, but there are multiple factors that make the process of evaluating the value of a case significantly more complex than it may first appear. “Damage” is a broad term, and it can cover both economic and non-economic forms of harm. Additionally, influential elements such as who is at fault or how much evidence you have to support your claim can play a major role in determining a dollar amount for your case.
In the unfortunate event that you or your loved ones have been injured through the negligence of another party, your first step should be to contact a trusted law firm with experience in personal injury law. To better understand how your lawyer will work with you to obtain the financial support you need to recover, let’s take a closer look at the factors that determine the worth of your case.
Factors Affecting the Value of a Case
There is no way to determine a case’s value without thoroughly investigating all aspects of the event that caused the injury. During the process of working with your lawyer to assess your case, inquiries will be made into the incident and its cause, the repercussions of the incident, and your personal circumstances. The information gathered will help to decide the value of your case. Specifics such as medical records, accident reports, video or photographic documentation, witness accounts, and other pieces of evidence will be examined. The following factors are likely to hold sway over the value of your case:
- Severity and Type of Injury. It can generally be said that the more severe the injury, the larger the case value. It can feel uncomfortable to try to assign a dollar amount to your personal injury. However, if you are facing steep medical bills, you need to know that those costs are covered. Expenses and difficulties such as hospital visits, prescription medications, surgery, recovery time, permanent damage, and rehabilitation, along with your pain and suffering, should be taken into consideration.
- Medical Expenses. Medical expenses associated with hospital visits and prescription medicines are most common, but cost can also be accumulated through treatments such as personal assistance, rehabilitation, physical therapy, casts and splints, mobility devices, ambulance fees, in-home care, or even lodging for out-of-town medical treatments.
- Loss of Current or Future Income. Your lawyer can help you recover the wages you lost due to missed work in the period following the accident. A competent attorney will also take into account the benefits, such as paid time off (PTO), which may have accumulated during your recovery. While some people find themselves away from work temporarily, others may face a more permanent situation. In severe cases, a person may be so critically injured that they are unable to return to their job. Under these circumstances, your lawyer can estimate the value of future wages, using data such as job training and current salary, to ensure you are properly compensated.
- Permanent Disability. Your job is not the only area of your life that is affected when you sustain a debilitating injury. If you suffered harm that caused a lasting disability, rendering you unable to perform daily tasks, the cost of your ongoing damage and suffering will be factored into the value of your case. Value will also be calculated to include adaptive equipment such as wheelchair ramps or other alterations made to your home or vehicle to accommodate disability.
- Property Damage. Your physical health takes priority, and making sure medical expenses are covered is of upmost necessity. There may be other damages, as well, like damage to your house, vehicle, or other valuables. The cost of repair and the worth of the object should be evaluated. Your lawyer will help to find professionals who can appraise your damaged property and determine the extent of the losses you incurred.
- Less-Tangible Factors. Often, it is easier to ascribe value to the economic damages than to the non-economic ones. Non-economic damages can, in fact, be much more detrimental. This may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium (the loss of an important family relationship such as a spouse), inconvenience, or loss of enjoyment of life. In addition, other less-tangible factors of your personal life circumstances can affect the value of your case. For example, if you are a parent, the primary source of income for your family, or responsible for the care of an older adult, your lawyer will make sure these important factors are not overlooked.
- Fault. Each state has its own legislation about how fault and negligence are handled in personal injury cases. South Carolina follows comparative negligence laws and implements a 51% rule. Comparative negligence means that both parties can be at fault, and a percentage is given to describe each party’s negligence. For example, another driver may be 70% at fault for excessive speeding, and you may be 30% at fault for distracted driving. The compensation you can receive will then be reduced by your percentage of fault. However, South Carolina’s additional 51% rule means that you cannot receive any compensation at all if it is determined that you are more than 50% at-fault in the incident.
- Strength of Your Case. If fault is evident, there is ample proof to support your claim, your facts are clear, and there is little to dispute, then your case will likely settle out of court for a reasonable amount as determined by you and your lawyer. A strong case encourages settlement and gives you greater control over value amounts, as no defendant (and their insurance company) wants to go to court when they know they will lose. It is helpful to keep detailed records, documentation, and photos, and maintain good communication with your attorney throughout all legal proceedings.
The Solomon Law Group Will Protect Your Rights
We believe that our clients should never be forced to bear a heavy financial burden for an incident caused by a negligent party. As skilled and experienced legal advocates, we cover areas including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, workers’ compensation, disability, wrongful death, and other areas of personal injury. The Solomon Law Group can help you receive proper compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or other costs you incurred during an incident that was not your fault. We go the extra mile to fully investigate your claim, making sure that every cost to you is accounted for in your case’s value. We invite you to get in touch today for a free, no-obligation discussion of your case.