How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
As one of the most trusted personal injury law firms in Bakersfield, we get asked this question a lot. Unfortunately, there is no set answer because all personal injury cases are unique. They depend on factors such as injury severity, involved parties, pain and suffering, etc.
Here at Chain | Cohn | Clark, we want to help you recover the maximum compensation you are eligible for. This means we will evaluate your situation and help determine a fair amount. If new details arise throughout the investigation, we will continue to communicate with insurance companies to adjust the value of your settlement.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?
The value of a personal injury settlement is decided by negotiations between the plaintiff and the insurance company responsible for paying the damages. Usually, one party will make an offer based on what they think the victim deserves and the other party will make a counteroffer. Adjustments like this will continue until both parties are satisfied with a final settlement.
Usually, if the defendant makes the first offer, the amount will be lower than it should be. If the plaintiff makes the first offer, they will often request more than they know they can get, as it will almost certainly be argued down. In any case, the settlement will slowly move towards a center value that accurately represents the victim’s suffering.
How Much Is My Injury Worth?
The most important factor in a personal injury case is the effect of an accident on an individual’s life. This includes the pain they endure, injuries they sustained, money they lost from those injuries, etc. While the nature of the accident itself may be indicative of the settlement size, the actual injury is what truly matters.
First and foremost, an accident settlement must cover the current and future medical expenses of a personal injury victim. Any care that is provided at the time of the accident—or from that point forward due to the accident—will be compensated. This includes less obvious costs, such as transportation to and from medical facilities, at-home care, medications, physical therapy, and more.
Accidents have the potential to mentally and physically ruin a victim’s life. If the proper steps are not taken to ensure compensation, significant financial damage may also be done. Surgeries and other medical bills can create insurmountable debt.
The other primary consideration when pursuing damages for a personal injury is the subjective suffering an individual faced. Physical and emotional pain and suffering account for a large portion of the settlement. Beyond the disabilities or issues that your injuries may cause, there is physical pain and discomfort likely tied to each one. Even once that physical pain has subsided, the emotional distress and suffering may continue for a significant period of time.
The goal of personal injury compensation is to return the victim to a point in their life where it is as though the accident never happened. Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, this could lead to a very large settlement.
There are many other injury-related factors that directly affect the settlement, such as lost wages. If a victim’s injuries prevent them from being able to work and generate income, they will be compensated proportionally to what they missed out on.
Scarring or disfigurement can also contribute to the value of a settlement. Even if it does not hurt, lifelong alterations to an individual’s physical appearance may lead to other difficulties in life.
How Much Is My Accident Worth?
The details of an accident can influence the settlement value. Certain types of personal injury are often viewed as more extreme than others. When large parties take advantage of individuals for their personal gain, more money may be awarded, even if the injuries are minor. The same goes for cases of intentional malice or gross negligence.
Additional punitive damages may be tacked on to a settlement to discourage the defendant from committing similar egregious acts in the future. This can greatly increase the value of your California personal injury claim.
Hiring a California Injury Lawyer
If you are the victim of an accident in California at the fault of another party, you are not legally required to hire an attorney. However, when you combine the risks of representing yourself with the potential settlement increase of working with a lawyer, the choice becomes much more clear.
Small claims with minor injuries — or cases that exclusively involve property damage — are not difficult to handle on one’s own. The more severe a case gets, however, the more important it is to hire legal counsel. Serious injuries lead to complicated cases. The more compensation a victim is set to receive, the harder insurance companies will fight against a claim.
Even if you are a very smart individual, it may be difficult to beat insurance adjusters at their own game. They will use a variety of tactics and legal regulations to attempt to pay you less than you deserve. They may even try to rush you into a low settlement while you are still recovering, making you believe that it’s a generous offer.
Our California injury attorneys will help you determine how much your lawsuit is worth and fight for that amount. We work on a contingency fee, which means that you don’t have to pay us unless you win. We take a percentage of the awarded benefits only after they have been recovered.
We also provide free case evaluations upon first contact, which means there is no reason you should not give us a call. A good lawyer can tell you whether or not it’s worth it to pursue damages. A great lawyer can follow up by procuring those damages for you while you focus on recovering from your accident.
Increasing the Value of Your Settlement
Our lawyers pay close attention to all different aspects of a case that may cause stress to the victim. Then we talk to experts and witnesses who can shed light on what happened and why it happened. Once fault has been established, it’s all about negotiation.
A California injury lawyer will help to increase the value of your case by bringing different expenses to the attention of the other party. Many fees go unrecognized after a personal injury accident, and even more fees have yet to be incurred. You may believe the insurance company is being generous when they initially offer you enough money to cover all medical expenses and then some. However, they are likely not to provide benefits for the future complications which an injury may cause. Instead, they are probably trying to rush you into accepting a lowball offer so you won’t consider the full range of costs you may be expected to pay.
When you agree to a personal injury settlement, you forfeit your right to pursue future damages. This means that the insurance company is safe from paying you any more money if they can get you to sign a low offer. Do not take a settlement before speaking with a lawyer.
Settlement Value FAQ
Who has the final say in determining a settlement?
Technically, a judge/jury will have the final decision on what your settlement amount should be. You have the ability to settle beforehand with the insurance company, but both parties must agree to move forward.
If there is any disagreement and a settlement cannot be reached, either party can ultimately push the case to the courtroom. However, trials take much longer and result in additional fees for both parties. Unless an attorney thinks it’s in your best interest to go to trial, you should attempt to settle. That way you will have more control over the final value and will not be at the discretion of a judge/jury.
Is it worth it to hire a lawyer?
Although it can be hard not to see our opinion as biased, we truly believe that hiring a lawyer is necessary in most personal injury cases. Not only do our lawyers help you through all the stages of your personal injury lawsuit, but they also have a vested interest in getting you the largest possible settlement. They are fighting for you—and themselves—when seeking full and fair compensation.
Even with the cost of hiring a lawyer, the settlement value almost always offsets the money you pay, providing you with a greater settlement and reducing the stress you have to deal with during your recovery.
What tactics will insurance companies use to get out of paying?
Insurance companies have ample experience battling injury claims. They know how to take advantage of you if you don’t have a knowledgeable lawyer. They may try to rush you to get you to agree to a lower settlement. Directly after an accident, you may be traumatized and confused. It can be hard to think rationally when medical bills begin piling up and you’re trying to juggle so many different consequences.
If an insurance company tries to talk to you or offers you an initial settlement, do not accept until you have spoken with a lawyer, as they will often make a significantly lower offer than what you deserve.
Sometimes, insurance companies will try to use the comparative negligence rule against you. If your case is not well-supported, they may argue that you had a percentage of fault for the accident, or that you were the one who caused it. This can greatly reduce or nullify all your benefits if you have no way to refute the accident. Hiring a lawyer to prove that the defendant was the cause of your accident and injuries will usually prevent the insurance company from using this tactic.
Large, powerful corporations may use intimidation tactics to scare you away from filing a claim. They may make threats or warn you of how much money a lawyer will cost. They are trying to protect themselves and do not have your best interest at heart. If you don’t believe us, reach out for a free case evaluation, and we will let you know how we think the case should play out.
Chain | Cohn | Clark Can Help You Recover Compensation
Do not assume that the insurance company will be honest about how much your case is worth. Whether they are good people or not, they have a job to do and must protect their bottom line. You need a representative who has experience and familiarity with the California claims process.
Our California injury lawyers will do everything possible to secure an adequate settlement for you and your loved ones. Don’t let another party’s negligence permanently ruin your life. Contact our team as soon as possible to get started on a personal injury claim today. The longer you wait, the more you risk not getting the actual value you deserve.