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How to Estimate the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

How to Estimate the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

personal injury lawyer new york

After being seriously hurt in a Bronx motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall incident, a workplace mishap, or another painful event, plaintiffs naturally wonder how much their personal injury cases may be worth.

Usually, the severity of the injury, coupled with the surgeries and treatments required play central roles in this process


Topic Section
Factors affecting case value Insurance company tactics
Medical expenses Medical expense questions
Property losses Property losses
Lost earnings Loss of earnings
Insurance evaluation methods Three key approaches
Comparative negligence How comparative negligence issues
Common misconceptions Common misconceptions

Insurance company adjustors constantly try to minimize all settlement awards

Before discussing three of the main methods that insurance companies use while trying to calculate the full accident compensation owed, it’s useful to review some of the questions insurance companies often ask themselves about your lost earnings, medical expenses, and property losses.

A. Medical expense questions and concerns

  • The total cost for all your medical treatments. You have the right to be compensated for all the expenses tied to your surgeries, physical therapies, medications, hospital bills, rehabilitation program fees — and out-of-pocket expenses paid while obtaining your care. If you had to obtain second opinions to make sure the proper diagnoses, treatments, and recovery programs were being chosen for your injuries, the insurance company would normally cover those medical fees, too.
  • Your recovery timeline also matters – how long you have suffered through various treatments — and if your treating doctors view your remaining medical conditions as temporary or permanent. It’s also important to bear in mind that new and permanent disabilities are always life-changing.
  • The extent of your daily life disruptions due to your injuries. In other words, can you still fully take care of your own basic hygiene? Can you still help other family members living with you as you once did? Are you still battling major mobility troubles? Do you have transportation problems with getting rides to medical appointments? Do doctors expect most of these disruptions to end soon?
  • Are all the physical losses you’re claiming – fully supported by adequate medical evidence? And was the defendant the sole cause of your limitations? Is a court likely to find that you were at least partially liable for causing your injuries?
  • Do you have pre-existing medical conditions that should prevent you from receiving full medical compensation for your current condition? Your Bronx personal injury attorney can explain how prior conditions may impact your case.
  • Do your doctors attribute your current need for psychotherapy to the trauma caused by this recent accident?

B. Property losses that may require reimbursement — including your car, phone, laptop

If you were traveling in your vehicle when the defendant hit you, the insurance company should normally reimburse you for the full repair of your vehicle. If it was totaled, you are normally only given an amount close to the vehicle’s current Kelley Blue Book value.

If your personal laptop, phone, and other devices were in the vehicle and they were severely damaged or destroyed, you should be fairly reimbursed for replacing them.

C. Loss of earnings – whether temporary or permanent

Many specific factors are involved in calculating your lost wages or “lost earning capacity.” Here’s some of the detailed information that the insurance adjustors will be reviewing when calculating this figure.

  • The number of days, weeks, or months you had to miss work
  • Whether your treating doctors believe that you can return to the same type of job after treatment ends. If not, can you be trained for other full- or part-time work? Has the plaintiff been told that s/he can never return to the workforce due to ongoing medical impairments and daily care needs?
  • Do your doctors think you may eventually – or soon – experience a full recovery?

Three key approaches or methods for case evaluation used by insurance companies

  1. The use of a damage formula. This starts with establishing the full amount that the plaintiff is seeking in medical expenses or damages. Many insurance companies then take that total sum for all the medical bills and multiply it by the company’s own private number – based on the severity of the claimant’s injuries.A. If severe or catastrophic injuries were involved, this multiplier is usually the number five — or even higher.B. If the insurance company believes your injuries were only of a moderate level, then this multiplier number will often be either the number three or four.

    C. When the plaintiff is thought to have only suffered minor injuries, the multiplier is usually between 1.5 and three points.

  2. The use of what’s called a multiplier method. This is often applied when trying to estimate a proper dollar value for the plaintiff’s non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. This approach involves adding together the full dollar amount of all the plaintiff’s lost wages, property damages, medical expenses, and any special damages.So, if a hypothetical plaintiff’s total losses and expenses equal $21,000 and the multiplier number is a three (common to many cases), the settlement offer might be close to $63,000. Yet aggravating circumstances, such as a driver who was under the influence when s/he hit you, might result in a willingness to increase this sum.
  3. Other insurance companies apply a per diem method. This involves calculating a plaintiff’s pain and suffering — or other types of non-economic damages based upon a set fee for each day of the person’s treatment and suffering.

How comparative negligence issues can affect your case value

Even if you did not contribute in any way to causing the accident that left you injured, insurance company adjustors will often try to allege that you were at least partially responsible for causing the event.

However, since New York is a comparative negligence state, plaintiffs are still allowed to receive partial verdicts – but the exact amount they can receive may sometimes have to be reduced by any percentage of fault that a court may assign to them for causing the accident.

Common misconceptions about what plaintiffs should receive in personal injury cases

  • Plaintiffs can rarely recover compensation for “minor” injuries. False.
  • It’s just not worth filing a lawsuit and going to court because it may take several years to have your case heard and receive a verdict. False.
  • Can’t most people save themselves a lot of time and money, including attorney fees, by just managing their own claims with the defendant’s insurance adjustor? False.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors affect the value of my personal injury case?

The main factors affecting case value are the severity of your injuries, required treatments, insurance calculations, strength of evidence, and insurance tactics to minimize settlements. Unique circumstances in each case also play a role.

How do insurance companies try to minimize settlement amounts?

Insurance companies use damage formulas, multiplier methods, and per diem calculations that work in their favor to calculate lower settlement amounts. Their goal is to increase profits by paying less.

Can I still get compensation if I was partially at fault?

Yes, New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning you can still receive partial compensation if found partially at fault, but the amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

What types of damages can I recover in a personal injury case?

You can potentially recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses related to your injury. An attorney can give you a breakdown of what may apply in your specific case.

How are pain and suffering damages calculated?

There is no exact formula. Factors like severity and duration of pain and suffering, extent of impact on daily activities, and subjective judgments come into play. Your attorney negotiates the best settlement based on case details.

Does my car insurance cover my injury treatment?

Typically no, health insurance covers medical costs and a personal injury settlement covers additional losses. Car insurance may only cover vehicle repairs/replacement up to policy limits.

What if I’m partly responsible for the accident?

New York follows comparative negligence rules. Your compensation may get reduced by your percentage of fault, but you can still recover damages proportional to the other party’s negligence.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?

The statute of limitations in New York for personal injury cases is 3 years from the date of injury. Evidence can fade over time, so it’s best to contact an attorney promptly after any incident.