If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, a slip-and-fall, or some other personal injury accident, one of the first questions you may have for your lawyer is: how much is my case worth? Medical bills are piling up and you need more physical therapy. Your boss wants to know when you can return to work. You may have to get a new (or new-to-you) car. A nice settlement would really help.
I understand how physically, emotionally, and financially devastating serious injuries can be. It’s natural to want to know if the extra stress and hassle of a lawsuit will cover all your expenses.
Here’s how I explain it to my clients.
There are two types of damages (aka, monetary awards):
Economic damages: this type of award covers past and future medical expenses, prescription and non-prescription medications, medical products (heating pads, braces, etc.), lost earnings, damage to your vehicle, clothing, and any other personal items, and other tangible expenses.
Non-economic damages: these address quality of life issues such as past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress. You can’t calculate these damages by adding up receipts. I look at the totality of circumstances—the big picture—and determine what a jury might realistically award. For example, an accident that leaves you with permanent brain damage may necessitate a higher demand for non-economic damages than a crash that caused a concussion and minor contusions.
While I know clients want to know right away how much they’ll get, we can’t calculate damages until you’ve completed treatment. We need to know the total amount of medical bills. We need to know everything it took to treat your injuries.
Everyone reacts differently to trauma, both physically and emotionally. Back pain from a car accident can flare up weeks later. So until we have seen all of the necessary documentation and have had significant discussions with our clients about how injuries have affected them, we can’t make an evaluation.
The amount you receive also depends on your insurance coverage and the coverage of the person(s) responsible for your injuries. Insurance companies won’t settle for an amount above the policy limits. And if the other driver doesn’t have any insurance or any assets, you’ll have a hard time getting them to pay.
What You Can Do
As you recover from your injuries, keep a journal that details your health and recovery. Write down all the details of the accident. Write down how you feel, the extent of your pain, and any change in symptoms. Download this one-page template from Enjuris to get started.
Back up your journal with photos: Of your injuries, medication bottles, and anything else relevant to your case. At the scene, you’ll want to take photos of your vehicle, any other vehicles involved, and license plates (for identifying other parties).
For a full list of what to do right after an accident, read this blog article.
To ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. According to a Nolo survey, respondents who hired an attorney received payments three times higher than those who represented themselves. And that’s after deducting the average 32% contingency fee their lawyers charged.
If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney so you receive the best possible outcome from your claim. You can reach our office at 510-893-3741 to schedule a free consultation.