How much a claim is worth will depend upon the specific facts of the case and will be different for each client. Having a skilled personal injury attorney review the case and negotiate on your behalf in order to present your case in the most favorable way, can greatly enhance your settlement offers and the value of your claim.
How are Personal Injury Claims Valued?
How much your claim will be valued at depends on several factors, including but not limited to, the type of injuries sustained, how your claim is negotiated, whether liability is clear, emotional distress, amount of medical bills, length of treatment, gaps in treatment, prior medical history, and prior accident history. The list below describes factors usually considered when valuing a personal injury claim.
- Fault / Liability – In part, the value of the claim rests on fault or liability. Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of a few states that still follow the law of contributory negligence. Essentially, this means if you are determined to be partially at fault, even 1%, you may be barred from recovering any compensation, even for your medical expenses. Sometimes adjusters and defense attorney accuse injury victims of being partially at fault to provide a basis for them to escape liability. If the adjuster has any reason to suspect that you could have been partially at fault, this will likely affect the value of your claim and you should seek help from a skilled personal injury attorney.
- Property Damage – This refers to the damage to your vehicle. Insurance adjusters often look to the amount of damage caused to your vehicle and the other driver’s, as well as the cost of repairs, when valuing personal injury claims. In cases where there was no much damage to the car, even though you may have sustained significant injuries, the insurance company may try to undervalue the claim based on an argument about the small amount of property damage.
- Type of Injury – Insurance companies usually look at the type of injuries sustained and whether they were severe in order to place a value on a claim. For example, an insurance company may value cases involving serious injuries higher than those involving only sprains. At Tien Law Firm, PLLC, even for cases involving minor injuries and sprains, we have been able to recover fair compensation for our clients.
- Medical Expenses – Insurance companies usually consider the amount of medical expenses incurred as a factor when making an offer. Medical expenses may include EMS bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation, and expenses for medication.
- Lost Wages – If you could not work and lost wages due to your injury, you may be entitled to recover those lost wages from the at fault party’s insurance company.
- Pain and Suffering – Car accidents are frightening and often involve physical as well as emotional injuries. Under North Carolina law, damages for pain and suffering may be recoverable against the at fault driver. Damages for pain and suffering can be hard to quantify. Having a skilled personal injury attorney present your case in the most favorable light possible, may increase the value of your claim.
- Other Noneconomic Damages – In addition to damages for pain and suffering, other types of noneconomic damages may be compensable such as loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and loss of future earning capacity.
- Whether Punitive Damages Apply – In cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed extremely dangerous or careless, for example, in drunk driving cases, a court may award punitive damages on top of any compensatory damages award. Compensatory damages, which include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, are awarded to restore the plaintiff in the position that he or she would have been in if not for the negligence of the defendant. Punitive damages, however, are awarded to punish defendants for their culpable conduct and to send a deterrence message to others. In calculating punitive damages, a court may take into account the net worth of a defendant in order make sure the award is large enough to hit the defendant where it hurts—to “hit them in the pocketbook” so to speak.
Contact Our Injury Lawyers for Free Consultation
At Tien Law Firm, we are passionate about standing up to insurance companies and fighting for our clients. We know the routine arguments and tactics that adjusters use to reduce the value of claims, and we have made successful arguments against them. For more information on how much your claim could be worth, contact our NC personal injury attorney at (919) 348-7727 for a free case evaluation.