We get hundreds of questions from clients every month. But, of all the questions we get, the most common are questions about how much a potential case is worth.
The question makes sense, and it is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. After all, if you are injured by someone’s negligence, it may have a negative impact on your finances. If the injury is serious, the impact may be devastating. You want to know what to expect in settlement so you can make plans to protect yourself and your family from the financial consequences.
However, although this is one of the most frequently asked questions by injury victims, it is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. To make it even more complicated, some factors in determining case value may be more important than others, depending on the details of the case.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
The value of any settlement in a personal injury or wrongful death case is going to depend on a whole host of factors. Every single case is unique. Different cases may have different types of damages you can recover, but generally, you can get financial compensation for things like the following:
- Medical bills you’ve already incurred.
- The costs for any medical procedures you may need in the future.
- Lost wages and lost ability to work.
- Mental anguish, both that you’ve already suffered and that you may suffer in the future.
- Pain and suffering, both that you’ve already experienced and that you may experience in the future.
- Money for any disfigurement you’ve suffered or may suffer in the future, which includes things like scarring and other physical injuries.
- Other financial losses in the future that occur as a result of your injuries.
However, the amount that victims receive for these things can vary dramatically. The true value of your case will be determined by your answers to all kinds of questions, such as:
- What type of injury do you have?
- How bad are your injuries?
- Where did the injury happen?
- What happened?
- Who was at fault?
- What are your medical bills?
- What type of treatment does your doctor recommend in the future?
- How much is that future treatment going to cost?
- How much time have you missed from work?
- How much time are you going to miss work in the future?
- Are you permanently disabled?
- How old are you?
- In what state and county will the lawsuit be filed?
- Were there other people injured in the same incident?
- Was a wrongful death involved? Was someone killed?
- Did the person responsible violate any laws or company policies?
- Were you partly at fault for the accident?
- Does the person responsible have a history of violations or accidents?
Depending on the details of your case, there may also be other factors that play a part in the final worth of your case. This is why is it so difficult, especially at the very start of a case, to tell you exactly how much your case may be worth—or even to offer a ballpark figure. There are just so many different factors that have an effect that an attorney must investigate a case very carefully and thoroughly to provide a reliable answer. Even then, if your case moves into litigation, your attorney may be able to help you build a strong case to get the full value for your losses, but he or she can’t guarantee what the court ultimately chooses to award.
Do “Punitive Damages” Apply to My Case?
Along with the above, punitive or exemplary damages are often awarded in personal injury or death cases when the person responsible is guilty of putting others at unnecessary risk. For example, punitive damages might be awarded in a case where a trucker gets behind the wheel drunk, because he or she is committing a crime and demonstrating gross negligence in the course of employment.
Depending on state law and other factors, the following parties may be held responsible for paying punitive damages to the victim in cases of injury or death:
- The individual responsible. In some cases, the person directly responsible for the incident may be asked to pay punitive damages. For example, under Texas law, punitive damages may be awarded to truck accident victims if the trucker was driving under the influence. An experienced attorney should be able to argue that the trucker’s behavior constituted gross negligence and that the victim should receive the maximum amount of compensation available under the law.
- The employer. Sometimes, injuries and deaths happen because a company or employer failed to follow the rules. In those situations, the company may be held liable for punitive damages. For example, a trucking company may be asked to pay punitive damages if it is found responsible for an accident caused by poor driver training, negligent hiring practices, or irregular truck maintenance.
- The insurance company. The insurer for the person or company usually pays most of the damages in personal injury cases, such as medical costs and property damages. However, the insurance company can also have a big effect on cases involving potential punitive damages. For example, insurers for trucking companies often have a clause against punitive damages. This does not mean the company is exempt from paying those damages, but it can make a case more difficult. If the company has a “punitive damage exclusion” in its policy, your attorney may need to help you seek additional damages from the person or company responsible.
However, keep in mind that punitive damages aren’t guaranteed, even when the police have cited the responsible party for breaking the law or engaging in reckless or negligent behavior. Cases like these may sometimes be fast and easy for victims because, for example, a driver has already been issued a ticket for an accident—but it’s not always that way. A traffic citation or arrest may not be enough to make sure that you win the claim and collect the maximum compensation your family deserves. Victims often need to work with an attorney to collect enough evidence to support the full worth of a claim, make a case for punitive damages, and work toward a fair resolution.
Who Can Help Me Understand the Potential Value of My Case?
If you’re at all unsure of what to expect from your claim, don’t hesitate to take advantage of a free case review with an experienced personal injury attorney. Many victims turn to the insurance company to help them understand what their claims are worth, but most don’t realize that the insurance company has its own priorities to protect its bottom line. The initial settlement offer from the insurance company is usually much lower than the actual value of your claim.
Any insurance adjuster, company representative, or even attorney who tells you at the outset what your case is worth probably does not know what he is talking about and should not be trusted.
It is simply not possible to determine the value of a case until most or all of the facts come in and the proper experts review the case. Simply put, in a serious personal injury case—especially a case involving wrongful death—you need an experienced attorney to fully evaluate your case and make sure you obtain a fair settlement.
An experienced attorney can usually give you a range for settlement value early on, or let you know the amounts of settlements in similar cases. To do so, however, the attorney will need to meet with you and figure out all the different aspects of your case, who is at fault, what the total damages are, etc., and compare that information with the outcomes of similar cases.
Contact Our Houston Injury Lawyers For More Details on the Value of Your Case
Our law firm handles personal injury and wrongful death cases in Texas and even across the country. We know from decades of combined experience that each and every case is like no other case. The questions above, and many others that need answers, are not usually easy to answer over a quick phone call. Proper investigation, experience in handling cases like yours, and an understanding of the law are essential when choosing the right attorney for your case.
The attorneys at VB Attorneys know how to properly investigate personal injury claims and have experience successfully handling many different types of injury and wrongful death claims. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to the actions of another, please call our office at 877-724-7800 to discuss your case during a free, no obligation legal consultation.