One of the most common questions attorneys hear from clients is, “What is my case worth?”
It is often difficult to initially determine, but factors that play a role in a final financial outcome include the details of the accident itself, the extent of any injuries, evidence, and insurance coverage, including the policy of the person liable for your injuries and damages.
What Compensation Can I Get?
Those who are seriously injured in an accident or those who are filing suit on behalf of family members who have died as the result of an accident are likely to receive a higher settlement, based on:
- The type of injury suffered, as well as the medical treatments used to address them, including surgeries.
- The length of recovery time.
- Lost work.
- The amount associated with medical bills and other medical expenses.
- Whether your injury resulted in permanent scarring or disability.
- Witnesses who may provide evidence after the accident.
- Medical experts whose opinions can help bolster your case.
How Settlements Start
Initially, insurance companies and personal injury attorneys will use a standard formula to determine a settlement that reflects how much money the injured party would accept in order to avoid taking further action against the party at fault.
That number is generally determined by both the attorney for the plaintiff and the opposing party’s insurance company. If the numbers are close, negotiations are more likely to be successful. The far apart the numbers are, however, the more likely a personal injury lawyer will gather evidence to determine whether or not there is a good chance that the case will be successful at trial.
There are a variety of different factors that go into calculating your final settlement. One commonly used formula takes total expenses (medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, and future lost income as well as estimated future medical expenses) and multiplies that figure by either one or one and a half to get an estimate of non-economic damages, also known as pain and suffering, which could be added to economic losses for a final settlement total.
To get an estimate that will give you a general idea of what kind of number your attorney and the opposing insurance companies might be talking about, consider the following expenses:
- Medical expenses: The total amount of your medical expenses, even those that are unpaid.
- Property damage: Calculate the expenses associated not only with damage to your property such as automobile damage as the result of a car accident, for example, including the cost of a rental vehicle.
- Lost earnings: If you missed work due to your injuries, the amount lost is calculated without taking into consideration benefits such as unemployment of short-term disability.
- Future lost income: If you will be unable to continue working at the same job or at any job after treatment for your injury ends, estimate those lost earnings.
- Estimated future medical expenses: If you will require long-term treatment – such as that associated with a spinal injury, for example – try to estimate your future expenses.
- General damages: Pain and suffering are the most difficult aspects to calculate and are usually 1 to 1.5 times the total of all other damages.
Determining Total Damages in Georgia
At the heart of a car accident injury claim is the injury itself. Generally speaking, the more serious the injury, the more compensation the victim is subject to collect from the at-fault party. There may be ancillary injuries as well, and they should also be considered. The more complex the car accident and the resulting injuries, the more difficult it can be to ascertain the value of a claim without the help of a skilled car accident lawyer. Our auto accident lawyer in Atlanta at Butler Kahn has handled very complicated injury cases, and this experience is invaluable for our clients.
Victims of car accidents often do not realize how many of their injury-related damages are eligible for inclusion as compensatory damages. These costs can quickly add up. With the help of our car accident lawyer, you may be able to file an injury claim with the appropriate insurance company with the reasonable expectation of receiving substantial compensation. The more valuable the injury claim, the more likely the victim will experience pushback from the insurance company which will do everything in its power to avoid paying out a large sum of money. In the most extreme cases, some insurance companies have been known to delay paying a claim until after the injury victim passes away. Our Atlanta auto accident lawyer at Butler Kahn is as aggressive as necessary when fighting for the best interests of our clients. When necessary, we will take an insurance carrier to court to force them to pay a fair settlement in a timely manner.
Assessing Value to Damages
As mentioned, the value of a case will be determined by the damages sustained by the victim. The types of damages, the extent of the damages, and the costs to repair or replace the damages will all be considered by your auto accident lawyer that Atlanta victims can trust. The summation of this information is what will be used to assess the value of your injury claim. The average or actual costs of the following will be assessed as damages. Here are examples of some of the questions you may be asked in relation to your injury or injuries from the car accident:
- Have you had surgery, or anticipate having future surgery? What kind of surgery?
- What medical treatment have you received, and may need in the future?
- Has your injury forced you to call in sick or otherwise miss work? How much income have you not been able to earn as a result? Has your doctor diagnosed your injury as permanent, and therefore you will not be able to return to your job?
If you would like to talk with an experienced Atlanta auto accident lawyer to determine the value of your injury claim, call Butler Kahn to request a free consultation today!
What Factors Are Used to Determine the Value of a Personal Injury Case?
Various factors are used in determining the value of a personal injury case, including the following:
- The severity of your injuries – Generally, the more severe the injury, the higher the value of your case because these injuries often require lengthier, more costly medical treatment. Severe injuries may include paralysis, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and amputations.
- Medical treatment costs – The cost of medical treatment is another crucial factor in determining the value of your personal injury case. These costs include past and future medical expenses, such as hospital bills, rehabilitation, and medication.
- Loss of income – If you have missed work due to your injury or medical appointments, you may be entitled to compensation for lost income. If your injury prevents you from returning to your job or being gainfully employed, you might also be compensated for losing future income.
- Emotional distress – Personal injuries can cause emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depending on the severity and duration of the pain, you might qualify for compensation.
- Who is at fault – Georgia uses a comparative negligence system when determining fault in accidents. An injured person who contributes to an accident can recover compensation if their share of the blame for the accident is 49 percent or less. If you were partially at fault for the accident, you would see a corresponding reduction in the amount of your compensation.
Are Different Methods Used in Calculating the Value of a Personal Injury Case?
The two most common methods for calculating the value of a personal injury case are the per diem and multiplier methods:
- Per diem method – The per diem method involves assigning a daily rate for the pain and suffering resulting from the injury. The insurance adjuster or court will then multiply the daily rate by the number of days you were in pain.
- Multiplier method – The multiplier method involves calculating the total amount of economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. They then multiply this amount by a number. Commonly, we see juries multiply economic damages between 5 and 10, depending on the severity of your injuries and other variables.
What Are Some Treatment Costs for Different Types of Injuries?
The cost of medical treatment varies depending on the type and severity of the injury. Here are some examples of treatment costs for different types of injuries:
- Broken bones – The cost of treating a broken bone can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the break and the necessary medical procedures.
- Spinal cord injuries – Because spinal cord injuries require specialized and delicate medical interventions, treatment can cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – Depending on the exact nature of the TBI, treating a brain injury can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What Are the Different Types of Damages Available in Personal Injury Claims?
In Georgia, personal injury claims can involve three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages refer to the monetary losses suffered as a direct result of the injury. The compensation aims to restore you to your financial position before the accident. These damages typically include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Lost future earnings
- Incidental costs
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses you have suffered because of the accident. They compensate you for the intangible harm you have suffered. These damages can be more challenging to quantify and may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Punitive damages punish the at-fault party for particularly egregious conduct. The court might award punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. These damages serve as a deterrent to others who may engage in similar behavior. To qualify for punitive damages in Georgia, the defendant must have acted with intentional or willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or similar motives.
Is There a Cap on Damages in Georgia?
There is currently no cap on economic or non-economic damages in Georgia for personal injury claims. However, most punitive damages are capped at $250,000.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia?
The statute of limitations establishes the time limit within which you may file a lawsuit. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims gives you two years from the accident date to bring suit. You may lose your right to seek compensation in civil court if you do not file a lawsuit within two years of the accident.
Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are visiting our website because you have suffered injuries in Georgia, we hope you are receiving the medical attention you need and are on your way to recovering your health. We also hope you have found the information in this blog useful. The team at Butler Kahn wants to help in whatever way we can. Feel free to call or contact us online if you would like to discuss your situation free of charge.