What is my personal injury case worth? The answer takes in many factors. They include the nature of the injury and how it impacted the life of the injured person. The issue of full fair case evaluation requires thorough review of many factors.
What is My Case Worth Factors
Some, but by no means all of these factors include the dollar amount of medical bills and lost wages. Likewise, case value looks at the length and extent disability, scarring, loss of function, residual symptoms and other things.
What is My Case Worth: “Magic Formula?”
Sometimes, personal injury attorneys and insurance adjusters added up medical bills and multiplied the total by a “magic number”. Where available, lost wages came into the mix. People multiplied the result sometimes by 7 to 10 for a high “demand” to the insurance company. This depended on the attorney’s strategy and experience with the particular insurance company or claims adjuster.
Another factor driving the multiplier represented the strength of the case. Clear liability brought a higher multiplier. Where the injured person shared arguable fault, adjust the number down. Then, the insurance company offered a settlement number. If settlements came in around 3 times the total of the medicals and lost wages people found it generally OK.
Most noteworthy, industry insiders largely reject this approach now for many reasons. The ever increasing cost of medical treatment, and the type of treatment, skews medical bills out of proportion to the actual injury. The magic multiplier method also punishes those who go on with their lives more quickly. The law calls it mitigation of damages. More on mitigation of damages.
Another standard approach to putting a dollar amount on injuries draws a time line after the date of injury. People figured periods of total disability, partial disability and residuals. Insurance companies and injury attorneys pegged dollar amounts to periods of total, partial and residual. This approach assigns numbers based on factors such as whether an individual did heavy or light duty work. Also, an actual average weekly wage came into the formula, with other variables.
Without question the formula fails in many cases. The cookie cutter approach fails people like stay-at-home moms, college students and others without actual wages. Arriving at dollar amounts challenges the formula.
Ask a Computer: What is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Insurance companies adopted various computer programs to evaluate personal injury claims. Among the first such programs answering the question of ‘What is my Personal Injury Case Worth’ took the name Colossus. It crunched some or all of the above factors and more. As attorneys submitted information, insurance adjusters entered various data.
The program calculated value based on numerical weight assigned to coded criteria built into the system. This represents the most arbitrary – but most widely used – claim evaluation approach. Among many problems, a subluxation injury diagnosed by a medical doctor is given value. At the same time, the same subluxation diagnosed by a chiropractor gets little or no weight. Here’s more on computer evaluation of injury claims.
What is my Case Worth: Why it Matters
A client came to me after struggling for months to settle their own case with the insurance company. They made a demand and didn’t understand why the insurance company made no offer. I accepted the case. Several months later we settled it for over twice what the injured person demanded from the insurance company.
This tells you why insurance companies want you to “do-it-yourself” and discourage people from hiring lawyers.
Having evaluated thousands of personal injury claims it is clear that no two injuries are the same. Injuries do not affect any two individuals the same. However, where hypothetical injuries are summarized it is uncanny how experienced attorneys will often arrive at a consensus on a reasonable settlement range.
I practice personal injury law in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. However, these factors are universal. Do not do this yourself. The insurance industry’s own statistics indicate that once an attorney is brought into any claim, the value of the claim at least doubles.